Inventories are not compulsory as part of tenancy deposit protection but, in reality, they are vital. An inventory and schedule of condition will not only list the items that are included as part of a tenancy, they will also record the condition of items.

Landlords asking for a deposit with the intention of covering damage to their property, as well as to the contents, should also have a condition schedule to record any existing damage at the start of a tenancy. This also covers the existence of any new items or recent redecoration, as well as an inventory of items. A full photographic record of the condition of the property when a tenant moves in can be invaluable in preventing and resolving future disputes.

An inventory and condition schedule should be compiled at the beginning of a tenancy and at the end. The tenant must sign off on both documents. Landlords should ensure that they have fully checked them before asking tenants to sign and all photographs must be clearly and correctly dated. If possible, the tenant should also sign the end-of tenancy inventory and condition schedule.

This process can be greatly simplified by employing the services of an inventory clerk, who will have a wealth of experience in creating and managing these documents.

Failing to create an inventory: the consequences

The absence of an inventory and condition schedule can often mean little or no redress for landlords. The Residential Landlords Association indicates that, based upon past adjudication decisions, there is very little chance of recovering money from the deposit to cover damage if the aforementioned procedures have not been followed.

It must be remembered, however, that even with an effective inventory and comprehensive condition schedule, deposits are not intended to cover the effect of ‘fair wear and tear’.

Evidence needed if damage occurs

If a landlord has to pay to address damage to a property, they cannot expect this work to be covered by the deposit if they fail to follow the correct procedures.

Landlords should obtain a minimum of two written estimates in order to prevent the tenant challenging the cost of putting things right. It is also advisable to retain receipts for items in the property to prove their original value if they need to be replaced or repaired.

Comprehensive tenancy files are a good idea to ensure that records, receipts, invoices and estimates are properly preserved. Landlords who fail to devote the time or resources to this can find themselves severely out of pocket in the longer-term.

InventoryBase provides the tools to document the full inventory & schedule of condition of the property, proven to protect both landlords and tenants, standardising the process throughout the tenancy lifecycle to eventually produce a full comparison report between Check In and Check Out.