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An inventory is one of the most crucial documents you will ever have as a buy to let landlord. An inventory prevents deposit issues with tenants and protects your property.

It is often stated that the outcome of a tenancy dispute occurs at the start of a tenancy rather than the end, as you have to prepare an inventory before your tenant moves into the property. At check in, your tenants will use the prepared inventory to thoroughly go around the property and make any changes necessary to the report.

In addition to this, periodic inspections should be conducted regularly throughout the tenancy in order to identify any damage and solve any potential issues before they become big problems. Finally, when the tenant checks out of the property, the condition of the home is compared with the initial inventory in order to determine if any deductions should be made from the renter’s deposit.

If you fail to have an inventory taken at the beginning of a tenancy, there is no evidence to provide to the Deposit Protection Scheme should a dispute arise. Property inventories are crucial, not merely as part of the adjudication process, but to also make resolutions to disputes quicker and much easier to achieve.

Another advantage is that the faster that the end of tenancy process is resolved, the less the void period between tenancies will be, which ensures that you will not miss out on a vast amount of rental income. In addition to this, depending on the landlord insurance policy you have purchased, and your insurance provider, not having a property inventory in place could breach the terms of your cover.

A good and thorough inventory report will be independent, unbiased and completed to a professional level. The inventory will describe and list the quality of the contents, fittings, fixtures and decor of both the exterior and interior of the property. A property inventory, however, does not just list what is contained within the property, it also includes the condition of both the contents and the building itself.

Photographs should also be embedded within the report, such as by using a letting inventory app, which documents the cleanliness and condition of the property as evidence. As 85 per cent of tenant deposit disputes focus around cleaning, this could prove vital in avoiding a conflict with your tenants.

Additionally, always remember to include the locations and serial numbers of meters at the property, as well as a declaration page at the end of the report for the collection of signatures from the tenant and landlord.

Surprisingly, most accidental damage at a rental property occurs at the check out or check in of the tenant. This is why it is crucial that the inventory report is agreed, checked and signed prior to the tenants moving into the property. The report should be used in order to examine each room within the property, with appropriate amendments made along the way. Both parties have to agree to these amendments, and add any photographs as necessary.

However, only when the property inventory is fully signed and agreed should the letting agent or landlord give the keys to the renter. It is also important to note that many claims for deposits are rejected due to the fact that the inventory report has not been signed by the tenant.

Landlords or letting agents should also carry out inspections of rental properties periodically, which will ensure that the property is being taken care of, and also that the tenant is not breaching their tenancy agreement. Property inspections also reveal any maintenance problems which require fixing.

You must also ensure that you communicate and document any issues with the tenant which are raised during the periodic inspection, as this can be used as evidence if needed later. It is advised to conduct visits between every three to six months.

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