Many student tenancies have recently come to an end and countless young people are regretting their inventory decisions when the time comes to get their deposits back.
A significant proportion of these students are unable to withstand this sort of financial loss, leaving them facing hardship as a result of neglecting the importance of a comprehensive inventory and schedule of condition.
It is not just students, either, as the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) is warning tenants of all types that they could lose thousands of pounds simply because they have not checked inventories properly at the start of the tenancy, leaving them responsible for items that are not there when they leave.
It can be tempting, for both landlords and tenants, to sign off an inventory without checking through it. But this can be a costly mistake to make in the long-run.
The AIIC says that a recent study by the Kiwi Movers removal firm found that more than half (52 per cent) of people claimed to have had trouble with landlords over the deposit after they had left a property.
The most commonly stated reason for the loss of a deposit was items that were missing at check-out. The study claimed that a fifth of those surveyed did not have their full deposit returned as a result of these missing items.
The AIIC chair Pat Barber has urged all tenants to double check everything listed on the inventory when the tenancy starts. This should only be signed once agreement has been reached. Barber also recommends that tenants consider replacing ‘lost’ items before moving out if this will be cheaper than allowing the landlord or letting agent to make the replacement.
When moving out, it is essential for tenants to leave the same items, in the same condition apart from fair wear and tear in order to ensure that a full deposit is returned.
Other reasons for tenants losing some or all of their deposit were the need for minor repairs, unpaid bills and cleaning costs.
Barber added that it was essential that landlords and letting agents go through each inventory thoroughly and fairly when a tenant leaves and that they consider the benefits of using an impartial, independent inventory clerk.
The acceptance of the importance of comprehensive inventories by all parties working within the rentals market should limit the number of deposit disputes.
In the case of student lets, the AIIC also recommends that landlords or agents visit their properties long before the end of the academic year if they are committed to minimising disputes.
The AIIC says that many students do not attend check-out, instead leaving properties in need of repair and cleaning before the next tenants can move in. In turn, parents refuse to foot the bill when they receive their child’s check-out report at a later date.
To help avoid precisely this type of issue, the AIIC recommends an early visit and delivery of a written check-list of preparation needed from the tenants before check-out, in addition to offering advice as to how recommended gardening and cleaning contractors can be used to ensure the full deposit is returned.