A Guide to Inventories for Tenants
Most tenancy agreements require you to put down a deposit that will be paid back should the property be returned to the landlord in the same condition as when you rented it. The inventory is the most important tool to getting your deposit back so read on to find out exactly what to do when it comes to your property’s inventory.
What is an inventory?
An inventory of your rental property is at its most basic form, a list of everything in the property. This list forms a report that will describe the condition of everything in your property, such as light fixtures, appliances, furniture, and surfaces such as flooring, walls, or doors.
Why is an inventory report important?
An inventory report is important because it ensures that you are not charged for damages or repairs you did not cause, and increases the likelihood of getting your deposit back in full. If you did not have a detailed inventory, your landlord would be able to claim that the stain in the corner of your living room carpet was not already there when you moved in and you would have no evidence to suggest otherwise. At the same time, an inventory gives landlords more of a guarantee that their property will be returned in decent condition once the tenants move out, or if it is not in decent condition they can expect to receive compensation for it.
It is especially important that the inventory is as detailed as possible. Once you receive the inventory report, have a thorough look at it and note any descriptions you may not be happy with. If the carpet’s condition is simply stated as ‘decent’ or ‘good’ but you have already noticed clear stains, ask for those observations to be added to the report. The more details added now, the lesser the chance of a deposit dispute at the end of your tenancy.
Who conducts the inventory and when?
Inventories are usually conducted by an external, third-party agency who can give an independent report on the status of the property. Sometimes a landlord or letting agent may compile the inventory report. Formats of inventories will likely differ depending on who conducted it but the same general information will always be present.
If your landlord has decided to organise an inventory for the property, it will be conducted both at the beginning and the end of your tenancy. However, your landlord may also want to organise inspections in the middle of your tenancy, or at any point before it officially ends, to make sure everything is being taken care of. You can take this opportunity to ask for repairs, bring any issues to light or discuss possible redecorations. Whatever you discuss, it is good practice to keep records of these discussions in writing, in case something doesn’t match up during the final inspection.
What is included in the inventory?
Most inventories will include notes not the condition of floors, doors, walls, windows and utilities as these are present in every property. Remember, details matter, so take a moment to consider the following:
- Carpet stains, rips, or furniture imprints
- Holes, stains, chips, scratches in non-carpeted flooring
- Opening, closing, and locking properly
- Chipped, stained, dirty or ripped paint or wallpaper
- Damaged shelving
- Damaged skirting boards or door frames
- Signs of mould or damp
- Marks on the ceiling
- Opening, closing, and locking properly
- Damage to the glass
- Damage to curtains, curtain rods, or blinds
- Signs of condensation, damp or mould
- Lightbulbs secure and working
- Plug sockets safe and working
- Boilers and radiators safe and working
Once you’ve had a chance to go through the conditions of these parts of your property, move on to inspecting the rooms in your home:
- Cupboards opening and closing properly
- Marks on cupboard or worktops
- Chips, stains or mould in floor or wall tiles
- White goods, oven and hob are clean and working
- Stains in bathtub
- Damaged taps or drains
- Signs of mould
- Toilet clean and working properly
- Chips in mirror
- Gardens well-maintained
- Gates securing locking
- Damaged fences or walls
- Clean garages or sheds
What are my responsibilities as a tenant?
When you get your inventory report at the start of your tenancy, take the time to read it fully, check for any inaccuracies in dates and review any pictures it includes. Feel free to take your own pictures to have on record. Remember, you are able to request changes to the inventory if you think something should be described more accurately or if there is any unreported damage.
During your tenancy you have a responsibility to keep your property well-maintained, with all appliances in good working order and any repairs being reported promptly. You should make sure the property has not sustained any more damage than the expected wear and tear. Keep records of any repairs or decorating changes made to the house.
When you are moving out of the property and the final inspection is being carried out, this is where all of your pictures and records will come in handy. Your landlord is able to request deductions to your deposit if they discover any new damage. If you are able to, being present during the final inspection may allow you to settle any deposit disputes in the moment and avoid length back and forth communication over email or phone.
What if no one conducted an inventory for my home?
If your landlord did not conduct an inventory for your property when you moved it, you are absolutely allowed to make your own version. It might not have been completed by a specialist company, but you can go into as much detail as you’d like and include clear photos of anything you want on record. You can ask your landlord to sign this inventory as confirmation that it accurately represents the current state of your property, but if they do not agree to sign it, you can get a signature for an independent witness instead.
Inventories are not something to worry about. If you’re the type of tenant that keeps your house in great condition, and you followed our tips for taking pictures and keeping records of any changes in the house, your final inventory should be a breeze and you should be walking away with your deposit in full. The inventory report should only help in making sure that happens.