Date Published 30 April 2018

Q: When you decide to rent a Property, the tenant will typically be presented with an inventory at the start of the tenancy, what is the purpose of such a document and what should be do with this ?

A: An inventory details what items are provided with a property at the start of a tenancy. However, this document typically is not just a list of movable items, it will also include a list of the fixtures for the property which many often dismiss as needing to be included. This includes inter alia the flooring, skirting boards, walls and ceilings. The report should also include a ‘conditions report' which looks at the condition of the said items. So using our previous example we would also need to look at the condition of the flooring to include carpets for example. These need to be accurately described and state whether they are in good and clean condition, or have some damage or staining as this then reflects a correct record of both the items and their condition at the start of the tenancy.

The inventory and conditions report can be compiled by the Landlord, the Landlords agent or a specialist inventory provider. The report should be presented to the tenant at the check in. Ideally this should be with the Landlord, letting agent or an inventory clerk present. However some agents provide the said document to the tenant asking them to check through this themselves and to notify any discrepancies within 7 days.

Once compiled the report will form the basis on which the property is then checked through on vacation. For this reason it is important that the inventory is both accurate and checked ideally through with both agent and tenant present. If this does not happen and tenants just accept and sign off the inventory as correct without checking then they can find themselves liable to errors due to incorrectly assuming that the report is correct. Examples can include where descriptions may state items as being in a Good / Fair / Poor condition, though condition can sometimes be subjective. Likewise, Good / Clean condition can also be subjective.

On vacation, if the condition at ‘Check out' differs then tenants may find themselves liable for dilapidations to the Landlord for any damage. Naturally, the Landlord needs to accept fair wear and tear, taking into account the length of the tenancy and number of occupiers. Children can create more wear and tear though large crayon marks on the walls would not be classed as using a property in a ‘tenant like manner'. This is the main factor which would need to be looked at to decide if something was reasonable or not. For example a tenant would reasonably be expected to keep a lawn mower in a garden shed or garage or out building and not the kitchen. Though a Landlord who does not provide such storage items, cannot reasonably prevent storing the mover in the kitchen causing come decorative damage if there is nowhere else to keep it and the property come with a lawn which needs tendering.

The Inventor and conditions report can also include meter reading, allocation of keys, rubbish collection / recycling days, emergency procedures and out of hours contact details etc. Sometimes this report is also backed up with photographic evidence. However, this if your report is well compiled in the first place pictures are less of a necessity at check in though essential to highlight discrepancies at check out.

It is important that the reports are correctly executed at check in, i.e. signed off and signed off at check out and a copy provided to all parties. After all, it is a free service for tenants to appeal should they disagree with any request to make deductions so Landlords need to make sure that the reports are both thorough and comprehensive. Some Landlords decide, not to provide an inventory. This is fine, however if tenant should cause damage and refuse to pay for this, then Landlords will have no grounds for reimbursement without documentary evidence.