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The importance of having a detailed inventory

“A properly prepared and comprehensive inventory sets the scene for what is provided by the landlord at the start of the tenancy. It plays a significant role in protecting both landlord and tenant. A detailed inventory will help avoid disputes, whilst any dispute that does arise about missing contents or condition of the property at the end of the tenancy can be easily resolved.” Chris Hamer, The Former Property Ombudsman

What is an inventory?
A property inventory is a legally binding document that reports the condition of a property and any furniture, appliances or goods. A detailed inventory forms part of the tenancy agreement and is used by all parties to compare the state of the property during check-in and check-out. It will also determine whether the tenant needs to pay for any repairs.

Why do I need one?
It can be frustrating for a landlord to have to pay for damage made to their property during a tenancy.
However, it’s not as easy as simply taking the money required to sort the damage from the deposit. A landlord must prove to both the tenant and court that loss or damage has occurred.
One of the best ways to avoid deposit disputes is to create a detailed inventory at the beginning of every tenancy. Without an inventory, there could be confusion over what state the property should be left in.
If a tenant is aware that the property and its contents have been itemised, it’s likely that they will ensure the property is left in a similar condition. A detailed inventory will also protect the tenant from damage that was already there.

The definition
When it comes to deposit disputes, landlords have to prove “sufficient damage”. This is different to wear and tear. According to the House of Lords, wear and tear is, “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”. However, this is subjective.
A detailed inventory will ensure that appropriate standards of wear and tear are defined. It will also form critical evidence in disputes.

Creating your own inventory
Many landlords opt to create their own inventories but often end up not including the necessary information.
For example, if the tenant argues that the wooden floor has marks on it at the beginning of their tenancy and the landlord’s inventory doesn’t state the floor was in exceptional condition, it cannot be proven that the tenant caused the damage. Any claims against the deposit would not stand.

What to include in your property inventory
A property inventory should describe the current state of the property as well as descriptions of fixtures, fittings, and furniture. Note down the condition of the bed, doors, walls, and locks. Look for stains on the carpets and check that all windows are working. Outside, make reference to drives, gardens, paths, and fences as well as garages and sheds. It’s not enough to simply list items. Photographs need to be included as well as clear, written detail.

The process
At the beginning of any tenancy, it is crucial that the tenant is provided with a detailed inventory and schedule of condition. They should then go through the property referring to the inventory before signing and returning the document. If the tenant has any disputes regarding the condition of the property and its belongings, they must mention this. At the end of the tenancy, a check-out report should be carried out.

Overall, it is important to remember that inventories are critical if the landlord is seeking to cover the costs of damages from the deposit. As a result of this, Cassini Properties Estate and Lettings use an external, professional inventory company to ensure that all landlords are protected by a correct and detailed document.

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