The Importance of an Inventory for Tenants
If you are a tenant, renting a property from a landlord, you need to make certain that you have a full understanding of inventories. When you take out a tenancy you have to make a deposit under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, which is a requirement that helps landlords to be sure that, if tenants cause damage to their property while they are in residence, they are able to cover the cost of repairing or restoring that damage.
Provided that you don’t cause any damage, then your deposit should be repaid in full when you end the tenancy. That is all fair enough. However, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme also helps to protect your deposit against unscrupulous landlords.
First point to be aware of is something known as fair wear and tear. A lot of things that are included in a tenancy, such as carpets for instance, are subject to normal wear and tear. They don’t last forever. They wear out over time and eventually will need replacing. The same thing may be said of curtains, appliances, and more.
However, a landlord may try to claim that the wear on the carpet is your fault: in one sense it is, because you have been walking on it, but that is not the point. It would have worn in exactly the same way if the carpet had been your own. The condition as check-out should take account of expected use of the item and a deposit charge can only be levied if the usage has been above and beyond. A well-trained inventory clerk will be able to make an estimate of fair use.
The subject is complicated by the fact that the lifetime of the item can be short, medium or long. Continuing with the carpet example, a low-quality carpet might be expected to last three to five years but a high-quality one may last twenty years. So, wear and tear have to take account of the interval of the tenancy versus the replacement interval of the item.Inventory is a report on the items that are let with the property and include the property itself – walls, ceilings, doors, windows, garden, garage, etc. It also needs to show the cleanliness and the condition of each item at the point that you move in and is often known as a condition report.
nother report will be taken at the point that you move out in order to flash up any differences. Allowances have to be made for fair wear and tear, but the cost of repairing any damage that you have caused may be deducted from your deposit before the rest is refunded.
The initial report is known as a check-in report, and the final one a check-out report. In between times, a landlord or his agent will conduct interim reports as well. This also has an advantage for you as a tenant because it will show up wear and tear as time passes, and a landlord will be able to see from the report that it is, indeed, wear and tear, and is thus likely protect you when you leave. And the same for the landlord in case it is excessive wear.
Now it is obviously important that an inventory is absolutely accurate in all detail. It must also be taken at the point that you move in and the point that you move out. In fact, it is best if you are present when these inventories are taken, because then you and the person making the condition report can agree on things. So, if there is a scratch on the paintwork in the bathroom it will be noted, and you can both agree on it. In current circumstances when presence may not be possible, the tenant should have some time, typically five days, to provide update feedback for reports.
Many landlords and letting agents prefer to use the Reports2Go app that we provide free of charge. It makes for great accuracy when the inventory is taken because the algorithm prompts the person taking inventory, so that he or she does not miss things out. It is an app that they can download to their mobile or tablet and then either type up their notes as they go from room to room or dictate them into the app. As they go, the app gives them reminders.
As you can see, inventory is important from the point of view of both sides, and our app makes it much easier to get it right.
Gary, 07 May 2021
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