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There’s often confusion within the private rented sector as to whether properties which are rented in an unfurnished condition require an inventory to be completed, with some believing that this is merely an unnecessary expense.

It is clear from analysing a range of forums, with posts from both tenants and landlords, that there is a lot of confusion regarding inventories for unfurnished properties. Surprisingly, there was also a large amount of confusion surrounding what a property inventory actually consists of.

Some believe that an inventory is merely a list of items contained in the property, and that the physical structure of the property is not mentioned. This includes, for example, parking areas and garden, smoke detectors, electrical sockets, bathroom fittings and kitchen worktops and units. Some individuals were also surprised to see locks, doors, windows, floor coverings and walls also included within a property inventory.

A detailed, professional and thorough property inventory is crucial for all variations of rental property, and must include both the structure and contents of the property. An adequate property inventory will also include a schedule of the condition of the home. This ensures that even if the property does not have white goods inside, and is as unfurnished as possible, that the landlord is entitled to make any fair deduction from the tenant’s deposit if there is reason to clean, redecorate, replace or repair any items in the property.

A property inventory which has been mutually agreed by both the tenants and the landlord at the outset protects both parties throughout the tenancy against unfair claims. Software such as the inventorybase login provides an effective and efficient way for inventory clerks, letting agents and landlords to produce professional standard inventories. The inventorybase login also facilitates risk assessments, building and interim inspections, check outs and check ins, in addition to producing property inventories.

Failing to generate and produce a property inventory for tenants could leave the landlord seriously out of pocket. For example, the landlord could choose to redecorate a rental property prior to tenants moving in, with every wall in the home painted in a neutral magnolia shade. However, the landlord rented the property to tenants without preparing an inventory. During the term of the tenancy, the tenants have become bored with this neutral colour within the property, and choose to paint every wall within the property a bright shade of pink.

The day that the tenants check out of the property and vacate, the landlord pays a visit to the home and is infuriated that the renters have re-decorated and painted the home in such a bright colour. The landlord immediately tries to deduct funds from the tenant’s deposit in order to repaint the property back to its neutral shade.

However, knowing that no inventory was taken and that there is no evidence of the true colour of the rental property’s walls prior to the tenant’s moving into the property, the tenants decide to dispute the attempted deductions, and this case is taken to arbitration. In this case, the arbitrators could side with the tenants, as there is no evidence to support the claims from the landlord.

Therefore, the cost of painting and redecorating the rental property must be covered by the landlord. This is just one example of where the omission of an inventory report proves to be a costly mistake for landlords.

It is worth noting that having an inventory for rental properties in place does not prevent tenants from choosing to redecorate, or causing damage to the property. However, a property inventory does reaffirm to the tenant their obligations in the rental agreement, and the clauses contained within the Tenancy Agreement. This will normally include seeking permission before painting or redecorating the property, and it provides undisputable and clear evidence of the condition and colour of the walls when the tenant moved in. This applies whether the property is furnished or unfurnished.

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