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

Renting a property is becoming ever common be it due to the rising costs of buying a property or, for some, the flexibility it offers in being able to change location quickly. It seems the trend is set to continue upwards.

Fortunately, there are a lot of rental properties available in the UK. According to the Office of National Statistics, there are 2,594,720 landlords in the UK who rent out one or more properties. Many of them have more than one, and an awful lot have many different properties and make their living by letting them out. Let’s face it, once you have a tenant installed in a property there is not a lot of work to do, and all being well you just sit back and collect a rent cheque each month.

This is why, if you come into ownership of a property, perhaps through inheritance, you might consider renting it out rather than selling it outright. Rental is a great option as it provides an income, and meanwhile your property (usually!) increases in value.

Ideally, you should be present when the landlord or agent takes the inventory which should be done on the day that you move in, or just before. When you are present you can point out anything that should be noted and see that it is all included on what is known as the check-in report.

Given the changes in tax treatment of rental properties and associated costs, assembling a property portfolio isn’t quite as easy as it once used to be. Nevertheless, by doing your homework it is still possible to build up a base of rental properties.

Of course, there are a few responsibilities that go with renting a property: finding a tenant, managing their deposit, ensuring rent is collected on time, ensuring the appropriate gas and electricity appliance certificates are in place, and that the bulbs are all low power rated etc. Many landlords use the services of managing agents who handle all of the day-to-day issues and ensure all legal commitments are adhered to.

There are some things that you need to do if you are going to rent out the property yourself, and one of these is to take inventory which is a written report of the condition of the property – and its contents – at the beginning of a tenancy and at the end when the tenant moves out. It is usual to conduct interim reports too, at six-monthly or yearly intervals, in order to see how things are and if the tenant is looking after the property. If the tenant does cause unwarranted damage, it means that you can deduct a sum to pay for it from the deposit the tenant is required to pay you on moving in.

You can either do the inventory yourself, or you can pay an inventory clerk to do it for you. An inventory clerk is someone who is a specialist at taking inventory and will often be a member of ARLA or the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, which are trade associations. Some managing agents who have a lot of landlords on their books will have an inventory clerk as a member of staff because there are so many inventories to carry out.

Whether you choose to use an inventory clerk or not experience says it often pays to use a professional. They will be trained, and trade association members will carry indemnity insurance. Many inventory clerks make use of the free app that we provide at Reports2Go. This will help them to ensure that the inventories they provide are as accurate as they can be, and also saves them a lot of time.

Gary, 14 August 2020

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