Completing an accurate and detailed landlord inventory report is one of the best ways to protect your right to claim compensation for any property damage that occurs during a tenancy. Inventory reporting sounds like a bothersome chore, but tenant disputes and haggles over money are much worse! Our property management team at Flex Living deals with new tenants and landlords daily – we’ve seen the complexities that can arise over confusion and disputes, so here is one of our best ways to avoid property-related problems and keep things civil with your tenants.
In this article, we are going to discuss :
What is a Landlord Inventory Report?
A property inventory report (also called a ‘schedule of condition’) is a report completed by a landlord at the start of a tenancy. This report details the condition of each room (bathroom, kitchen, bedrooms and living rooms) along with the fixtures inside it (including doors and windows). While landlord inventories are not a legal requirement, they are highly recommended for their role in reducing landlord-tenant disputes and protecting your right to claim compensation from the deposit replacement scheme should any damage to your property occur.
Check-In and Check-Out Inventory
Generally, each inventory report contains two elements: the check-in report and the check-out report.
1. Check-in report
The check-in report logs the property’s condition and items before the tenant moves into your property. Ensure you document any faults to the property or items. You should also describe the condition of each item (i.e., is it in ‘excellent condition’, ‘fair condition’ or ‘poor condition’?).
A small accompanying description and photos is recommended (the more detail, the better), and it’s best if you time-stamp photos to avoid claims that they are old images.
Once you have recorded all items and property attributes, you (and the tenant) must sign it. Keep a copy for yourself and supply one for the tenant.
2. Check-out report: logs the property’s condition and items at the end of the tenancy
A tenancy inventory check out report uses the report you created at the beginning of the tenancy to log the condition of the same inventory after the tenant has vacated. Remember, tenants have the right to dispute anything in both check-in and check-out reports.
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Do you need a landlord inventory for an unfurnished property?
Yes – unfurnished properties are usually not completely empty, and you should still complete a property inventory. You should make a note of the condition of things such as:
- Light switches
- Doors and door handles
- Plug sockets
- Walls (including any mould)
- Kitchen worktops
- Garden condition (e.g., weeding and general care) and features, fencing or ornaments
For more information on what’s included in unfurnished properties, read our article ‘What Should a Landlord Provide in an Unfurnished Property UK?’
Why is a Landlord Inventory Report Important?
A landlord inventory report is important for the following reasons:
1. Act as a reminder
Landlord inventory reports help remind both landlord and tenant what condition the property and its fixtures were in before the tenancy.
2. Avoid disputes
If there is any dispute or disagreement between you and your tenant, the inventory report plays a crucial role in reaching a fair solution and determining who is liable for any damage. For instance, say there was a large crack in the door and the tenant said it was there before they moved in, you can simply check the inventory report to see if this is true or not.
3. Recover costs
Without an inventory report, you may struggle to recover any costs from the tenant’s deposit if there is any damage to your property. Tenancy deposits are protected in government-approved schemes such as the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. So, if you claim your property was left in bad condition, you must provide evidence of its condition before the tenancy. If you make a tenancy deposit claim with no inventory, it will most likely be rejected.
Where Can You Find Landlord Inventory Services?
Hiring a professional inventory reporter will save you time and ensure your report is as detailed as possible. Hiring an expert is also a good option if you prefer to keep some distance from your tenant. However, these services will put you out of pocket, so weigh up whether paying a little bit more is worth saving time and achieving accuracy. The cost will depend on the size of your property (including the number of floors) and whether or not it is furnished or unfurnished.
Average prices for an inventory & check-in report (actual price may differ depending on your property)
|£130 + VAT
|£100 + VAT
|£150 + VAT
|£120 + VAT
|£170 + VAT
|£140 + VAT
|£190 + VAT
|£160 + VAT
Countless professionals offer landlord inventory services (including both check in and check out inventory). Some of our favourites include the following:
- OpenRent – offers low pricing for high-quality reports completed by accredited inventory clerks
- Storm Inventories – Provide APIP or AIIC accredited inventory clerks for efficient reporting services with no hidden costs.
- No Letting Go – Provide accurately prepared, unbiased inventory reports and other property management-based reports.
- Inventory Hive – Creates audit-trailed property inventory reports with optional 360° photos. They partner with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
Can You Do Property Inventories Yourself?
You may not have time to go into the same detail as a professional inventory reporting company (who can spend up to 8 hours photographing, logging issues and reporting details!). However, you can still complete a basic inventory report by yourself at a significantly lower cost (other than the cost of time!). You will have to schedule an agreed time to inspect your tenanted property and come prepared with a landlord inventory template (you can download free landlord inventory template pdf files online).
Avoid These Inventory Reporting Mistakes
Completing an inventory report will help you recover costs for damages in most situations. However, if you fail to do your inventory report correctly, it may not be as useful as you think. Watch out for the following mistakes when completing your landlord inventory:
1. Lack of detail
A letting inventory that is too basic is unlikely to be useful as a dispute resolution tool. Again, the more detail, the better. If a wall is in ‘good condition’, what does this mean? Does good condition suggest it is structurally fine (no cracks or holes) but has a few little markings? Or does it mean the wall is completely pristine? It’s best to write a short description detailing exactly what you see – colour, markings, cracks and holes. Even better, include a digital photo. Every piece of information you give will be useful in the case of a future dispute with your tenant. Remember that a professional inventory usually contains photo and video evidence alongside detailed descriptions; these expert reports can be over 40 pages long! So, don’t be afraid to skimp on the specifics.
2. Lack of photographic evidence
As mentioned above, taking a photo of the room and its fixtures will save you a lot of trouble when resolving tenant disputes about whether or not something was damaged before or after they moved in. A tenancy deposit scheme adjudicator will likely give greater weight to photographic evidence, so it’s useful to include and worth the extra effort.
3. Based on opinion
Make sure your descriptions are purely factual. Avoid making subjective statements based on opinion (e.g., try to avoid saying phrases like ‘I think’ and ‘I believe’). Fact holds more weight than opinion in legal settings.
4. Failure to communicate with the tenant
You must maintain clear communication with your tenant. Take them through the inventory report, obtain their signature and ensure you are both on the same page.
Once handing over the report to your tenant, ensure you notify them of the timeframe in which they have to agree and respond. Usually, landlords give tenants 7 days to reply. If they do not respond within the set time period, then you cannot take this as an agreement. Not having a mail trail proving the agreement means the tenant could argue that they never agreed upon the inventory report should a dispute arise in the future.
Landlording Made Easy
Our property management team at Flex Living handles the entire tenant communication process for you. From paperwork to general enquiries, we’ll cover it. So you can sit back and relax while we ensure your property remains perfectly intact.
For more information to help you prepare for your tenants as a landlord, read our articles on: