Property inventories can play a vital role in ensuring a tenancy runs smoothly, benefitting both landlords and tenants. To help you prepare and implement an effective report, here’s our essential guide on how to create the best property inventory.
We’ve broken it down into the following sections so you can quickly find the information you need:
- What is a property inventory?
- Do landlords have to provide an inventory?
- What should be included in a property inventory?
- How do I write a property inventory?
- Producing evidence that an inventory has been completed
- What else should my inventory include?
- Is a property inventory useful?
- Making sure you stay prepared
A property inventory is simply a comprehensive list and description of all the fixtures, fittings and contents in your rental property.
Some inventories sit alongside a ‘schedule of condition’, which specifically describes the state of the property itself. In some cases, if there isn’t a separate schedule of condition, the property description will be included in an inventory.
Property inventories are not compulsory, so you don’t need one by law. That said, they are extremely useful and can be used as evidence if there’s a dispute over the property’s condition at the end of a tenancy.
In fact, inventories are considered so valuable, many tenancy deposit schemes will expect landlords to have one if they receive claims about damage or excess wear and tear.
Inventories aren’t just beneficial for resolving problems, they also offer peace of mind. A properly inventoried property means landlords and tenants each know where they stand when it comes to the condition of items as everything is clearly documented.
Your inventory should include a clear description of any contents you provide, as well as fixtures and fittings and ideally, the condition of the property itself. Needless to say, descriptions should be based on the condition of the items at the time – not what they will be if repairs or replacements are in the pipeline.
Examples of what to note down include:
- Walls and doors – check for scuff marks, scratches and cracks.
- Ceilings – check for marks and cracks.
- Permanent fixtures – ceiling and wall lights and the state of radiators.
- Fittings – bathroom suites and kitchen accessories such as taps and sinks.
- Flooring – condition of all floor surfaces including carpets, laminate and wood.
- Furniture – every item you provide should be included with a description of its condition, even small items like cutlery, glasses and crockery.
- Appliances – dishwashers, fridge, freezer, washing machines and tumble dryers.
- Storage – both built in or standalone wardrobes, cupboards, chests of drawers.
- Windows – note the state of windows and blinds or curtains provided.
- Paint and wallpaper – intact or peeling, chipped or flaking.
- Garden and outdoors – any furniture, plant pots, condition of the grass, sheds and garages.
All new tenants should be given a completed inventory just before moving in detailing everything included in the property. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you (or your representative) go through the inventory with your tenant when they move in. This will enable both of you to confirm or rectify any descriptions shown on the report.
Preparing an inventory can take time but when it’s done, it will simply need minor changes as tenants come and go. With that in mind, it’s well worth taking time over the first inventory as this will minimise the need for future changes. Also, don’t forget – a well prepared report can be used as evidence if there are any end of tenancy disputes.
At the end of the tenancy, the inventory can be used again to establish whether contents have been left in a fair and reasonable condition.
As a landlord you can carry out and write an inventory yourself. It doesn’t have to be set out in any particular way, but you can download a property inventory template from various web platforms as a starting point. Simply ensure everything you provide is listed and described.
If you use a letting agent to manage your property, inventory reporting is a service they’ll often provide. Alternatively, you can also hire a professional inventory clerk who will be able to complete one efficiently and to a high standard.
Whoever prepares your inventory will need to produce two copies – one for you (the landlord) and one for the tenant. If a letting agent manages your property, they may keep your copy or have a third made for their records.
A thorough property inventory should include photos as well as descriptions as this will clarify any written ambiguities
Producing an inventory is one thing but to ensure it can be used as evidence, you’ll need proof that it’s an accurate representation of your property. However, because property inventories aren’t mandatory, there’s no particular set of rules you need to follow to make sure it’s binding.
To make sure your inventory is robust enough to be used as evidence in a dispute, check to see what your tenancy deposit scheme says. As these bodies adjudicate disputes they may have certain expectations of what can be used as evidence – for example, if photos are preferred over written descriptions. Other recommendations could include:
- Ensure documents are signed – this should go without saying but your property inventory should be signed and dated by you and the tenant as proof of when it was provided.
- Include a tenancy agreement – used together, an inventory report and tenancy agreement are powerful tools that you can use to support any claim. The tenancy agreement should refer to the inventory report and clearly set out tenants obligations and that they agree and understand those expectations. It should also be signed and dated.
- Confirmation of understanding – your tenancy agreement should also clearly set out any definitions that could be argued as vague, for example, ‘clean’ when you mean ‘professionally clean’.
- Copies of communication – keep a record of communication between you, your tenant and letting agent if you use one. It’s also sensible to keep copies of any quotes for repairs and receipts if you’ve had to replace anything.
- Notes on appliances – if you provide appliances, write down serial numbers, models and keep a copy of receipts.
Your inventory can also include anything you specifically want to draw your tenants’ attention to, for example:
- Visits – if you intend to inspect your property every six or 12 months then the inventory is a good place to schedule visits.
- Safety – you could include a record of your landlord obligations such as a gas safety and the date when the next test is due.
- Utilities – include clear meter readings with photos.
It’s easy to underestimate the value of a property inventory – especially if you own several properties and already have a tenancy agreement in place. However, a well-executed report with comprehensive descriptions and photo evidence can be hugely beneficial.
Not only can they help resolve disputes quickly and effectively, they also serve as a reminder to you of what each property includes. For your own records and portfolio management, inventories can be a handy way to catalogue your properties and tally up any expenses.
Preparing and carrying out a property inventory takes time so if it’s not something you’re able to commit to, it could be worth hiring a professional clerk, agency or asking your letting agent organise it for you.
It’s also important to ensure that you complement your property inventory with a tenancy agreement. The two should refer to each other so that there’s no room for uncertainty if any issues do occur.
At Alan Boswell Group, we understand the pressures you face as a landlord and the financial commitment you’ve made to your properties, but we can help. Not only do we offer great value tenant referencing services, our award winning range of insurance products can be tailored to protect your assets.
To ensure you’re prepared for the unexpected, speak directly to a member of the team, contact us on 01603 216399.