Property inventories are just one of the many steps involved in successfully letting out a property. With everything else going on, like referencing, maintenance and arranging security deposits, an inventory may not seem all that important. But ensuring you have a thorough process and report in place can save you hassle, time and money. Read on to find out everything you need to know about property inventories.
What Is A Property Inventory?
Used in lettings, a property inventory is a detailed report that lists the condition and contents of every room in the home. The written details are often supported by photographs, and will include things like furniture, fixtures and fittings, any marks on walls, floors or doors and the cleanliness of specific items and rooms.
Property inventories are carried out at the beginning and end of every tenancy. They can be completed by letting agents, landlords or third-party inventory clerks. The report can vary in complexity, from using a simple traffic light system to in-depth details about every element in the room. However, the fundamental information included in the report will always be the same.
Do Landlords Have To Supply A Property Inventory?
There is no legal requirement in the UK for landlords to provide inventories at the start or end of a tenancy. However, it’s highly recommended that you do, for reasons we’ll go further into below. You should also be aware that your tenants are entitled to make their own version of an inventory if you don’t offer one.
If the tenant goes down this route, they can ask you to check and sign their inventory to signal that you agree with its contents. If you refuse, they can have an independent witness sign it instead. As well cover in more detail, a property inventory is in the interest of both parties, so it’s always best to arrange one yourself at the start of every tenancy.
Why Are Property Inventories Important?
High-quality, detailed property inventories are invaluable for both landlords and tenants. The inventory is essentially proof of the property’s condition when a tenancy begins, and hugely decreases the likelihood of disputes arising from either party.
If any issues do arise, you have a document and images that will give a clear comparison of the property at the beginning and end of the let, ensuring that most problems can be quickly cleared up. Without an inventory, any disputes turn into a case of your word against theirs. This can not only prolong any issues but can even end up costing you money.
Should You Outsource Your Property Inventories?
There are companies out there (including ourselves!) that specialise in taking detailed inventory reports and check in services. While it’s perfectly feasible to carry out check-in reports and check-out reports yourself, using a professional inventory service comes with plenty of benefits. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.
Using a trusted property inventory company means that every single report will be of the same standard across the board, allowing you to give a consistent, high-quality service to your clients. It also means that you free up time and resources in training up new staff, letting you get to what you do best. Even if you manage multiple properties and work with several different clerks within the company, they will all be upheld to the same standards.
Inventory clerks are specially trained to know exactly what to look for, ensuring that their reports are all as detailed and thorough as possible. They will not just look at the basics, but include information about the smallest fittings and fixtures that the untrained eye may overlook. Most companies will show you a sample report before you start working together, so you can get a clear idea on the level of service you will be receiving.
With experience and training behind them, clerks from property inventory companies can offer a quick turnaround. Not only is this helpful for spending as little time in the property as possible, but also in the speed in which they upload and send over their reports. That means less inconvenience for your tenants and less effort required from you.
Easily Accessible Reports
Most companies will usually give easy online access to all your reports, providing a central hub where all the details of your lettings are kept safe. Within this hub, there are often additional services available to make the process easier, like making payments and bookings. This online system offers great convenience and also means that all your information is safe and secure should you need it at a later date.
When carried out by a third party, property inventories stand up against any claims of bias. This also means that, if needed, they will stand up in a court of law. While this is hopefully something you’ll ever encounter, outsourcing will give you the peace of mind that you will be well-prepared should any issues arise.
Outsourcing property inventories can also make it easier when applying to the tenancy deposit protection scheme to make a deduction. Unlike reports carried out by landlords or agents, there is no question that any completed reports are 100% impartial.
How Are Property Inventories Conducted?
Property inventories are carried out once you have found a tenant but they are yet to move in (and again when they have moved out). It involves going from room to room with an extensive checklist and noting the condition of everything contained within the property, from the walls and floors to the fixtures and fittings. The report must note any damage (including minor scuffs and scratches), cleanliness, and if everything is working as it should (like the taps, hob or smoke detector). These days, photos are usually taken at the same time to accompany the written report.
The nature of the inventory report differs from company to company. Some will be simply written by hand and then scanned onto a computer, while others will be filled out directly onto an online platform. Similarly, while some reports have a written description of every item, others will use a number or traffic light system to note the condition. Once the report is done, a copy is given to both the landlord and the tenant to sign off and keep in their records.
What Happens At The End Of The Tenancy?
When a tenant moves out, the same inventory process is conducted once they have removed their belongings and cleaned the property. The final inventory is then compared with the one taken before the tenant moved in to see if there are any differences between the two reports.
If there is any damage to the property that goes beyond normal wear and tear, then this can be used as grounds to deduct money from the security deposit. If you do, then the tenant has the opportunity to either agree with the decision or contest it. This is where having a thorough report with accompanying images can prove highly valuable.
As you can see, property inventories are a vital part of the lettings process that should be conducted for every tenancy. It’s a personal choice as to whether you’d like to do your own property inventories or if you’d like to outsource the task, but there are plenty of benefits to leaving it to the pros. If you’d like to find out more about how our property inventory services can help you, you can take a look at this page or simply fill in our contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.