What does an Inventory Clerk do and should I hire one?

Letting property can be a tricky and often difficult business, for both tenants and landlords alike. A ripped carpet, broken window or marked wall can cost a tenant a hefty deduction from their deposit and landlords often feel that that the cost of the damage or issues to the property can only be resolved through these deductions. Yet without evidence to support or refute the claims; tensions can escalate. So what is the solution?

Hiring a professional and independent inventory service or clerk, for both check in and check out, protects both the landlord’s property and the tenant’s deposit, which saves money and time and prevents disputes.

What does an inventory clerk do?

An inventory clerk is a skilled professional who makes detailed notes regarding the contents and condition of a property before it is let to a tenant. A clerk can also conduct mid-tenancy inspections on a property, and returns when the tenancy comes to an end in order to compare the end of tenancy condition to the original condition of the property. The return of a tenant’s complete deposit is dependent on the condition of the property when the tenant leaves, excluding normal wear and tear.

A landlord normally asks for a deposit to be paid by new tenants, the equivalent of 5 week’s rent, which is held in a Government licensed deposit scheme such as Tenancy Deposit Scheme, My Deposits or Deposit Protection Service until the tenant(s) leave the property.

What is an inventory?

An inventory, which can be completed using property inventory software, is a detailed, comprehensive document that should be commissioned by the landlord as it is in the best interests of both the landlord and the tenant to help mitigate any potentially continuous issues at the end of the tenancy.

When should an inventory be done?

An inventory report should be compiled and then agreed and signed by both the tenant and landlord (if they chose to do so) on the day that the tenant actually moves into the home. If an inventory is conducted after a tenant has moved into the property, there could be discrepancies in the report due to the presence of belongings or change in the condition of the property that may have not been pre-existing.

Why do I need an inventory?

For landlords, commissioning an inventory clerk saves you both valuable time and helps minimise future issues. A professional service ensures that everything is captured in the inventory report. Using an inventory clerk also ensures that disputes at the end of a tenancy are more likely to be resolved fairly and can prevent them from becoming protracted and personal.

Wear and tear and its definition, for example, is a frequent sticking point for tenants and landlords, as any damage due to normal wear and tear cannot be passed to the tenant and the only way to ensure that this does not happen is to provide a report that is unbiased, factual and clearly evidenced.

What should be included in an inventory?

The inventory report will list everything that is included within the property. This includes heating appliances, extractor fans, cupboards, plug sockets, door frames, smoke detectors, curtains or blinds, flooring, light fittings, walls, ceiling and doors. Effectively anything that can be seen and is included in the agreement for the tenant to use.

In addition to these fittings and fixtures, any furniture which belongs to the landlord must be included, as well as descriptions of their type and condition. It is vital that any damage, chips or marks are included in these descriptions, to ensure that the tenant is not held responsible for any existing damage, and that the landlord receives fair compensation for any damage caused by the tenant.

Inventory reports should also include utility readings such as electricity, water and gas readings and all reports should include detailed pictorial and or video evidence of the property, both internal and external including any outbuildings the landlord is responsible for and has included in the tenancy.

Letting agents also utilise the services of inventory clerks and if you are an investor landlord and let property to tenants, the commissioning of an inventory report should always be a top priority before a tenant moves in in order to protect the landlords assets.

Is an unsigned inventory valid?

An unsigned inventory is still legally binding as long as it is dated and there is proof that it was given or sent to the tenant on or before the day they moved in. As an inventory forms part of the rental agreement between landlord and tenant, it is an essential document during the check in and check out process as it provides both parties with protection from unnecessary blame, ensuring the process is fair.

InventoryBase Workstreams

InventoryBase Workstreams is a unique platform that connects landlords and property managers with inventory professionals in their local area. If you’re an investor landlord in need of property inventory services, Workstreams allows you to view professionals for hire close to your property. If you’re an agency who needs to complete inventory work for a long-distance property, Workstreams also enables you to source vetted, local professional services freeing up your own staff who can then focus on developing further leads and profitable services.

Report templates from InventoryBase

  • Professional inventories
  • Interim inspections
  • Check-in
  • Check-out
  • Building inspections 
  • Electrical safety inspections
  • Risk assessments

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