What to check for when doing an Inventory Report
When you are a landlord, one of the most important things that you must do is to create an inventory report. When you prepare one it will show the condition of everything within your property, as well as the actual structure of the property, at the point that the new tenant moves in.
What this means for you as a landlord is that if anything is damaged while the tenant is living in your property, you can then prove the condition that it was in at the point the tenant took over, and that therefore the responsibility for any repairs is that of the tenant. It may be that the tenant can fix any damage themselves or pay someone to do it. If the tenant cannot, or will not, then you are entitled to take the cost of the repairs from the tenant’s deposit.
It may be that you only have one property, and you look after it yourself, or you may have several and use an agent to look after them for you. Either way, the inventory, which is the initial report, needs to be carried out ideally on the moving in day, or shortly beforehand. It is best carried out with the tenant present because then you and they, or whomever else is doing the inventory report, can agree on the condition of everything.
If the tenant cannot be present, it is necessary to provide him with a copy of your report on moving in day and allow a few days for them to either make any comments or agree the check-in report and sign a copy to say that he agrees with it. This then puts you on a firm footing when it comes to the check-out report at the point where the tenant is leaving. This will show the condition of everything at that point. Thus, any differences in condition at check-out are the responsibility of the tenant.
There is, however, one exception to this, and that is what is known as fair wear and tear. It is safe to say that at the end of the tenancy, especially if it has lasted some years, not everything will be in exactly the same condition as when the tenant moved in. Carpets wear out. So do furnishings such as armchairs and sofas. Paint starts to lose its gloss. That sort of thing is not the fault of the tenant because it will happen anyway, whether you lived in the property yourself or anyone else did. As a landlord, fair wear and tear is a part of your overhead and you are responsible for paying for it.
So, what needs to be included in an inventory? The answer is pretty much everything. Walls, ceilings, doors, and windows. Check for holes, scratch marks, dents, wallpaper condition, door frames, window frames, how well doors and windows open or whether they stick. Check curtains and blinds. Check all fittings – taps, plumbing, sinks, basins, shower units, radiators, power sockets, etc. Check the flooring – carpet, wood, lino, vinyl, tile, or whatever.
Check appliances – fridge, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, and so on. Look at the outside walls, gutters, downpipes, drains. Check any outbuildings such as sheds. Check the garden walls or fencing and gates. Look at any garden furniture and the overall condition of the garden. While you may not be a gardener to the standard of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the garden should, nonetheless, be reasonably tidy.
As a landlord, you also need to carry out interim inspections. There are a couple of reasons for this, one of which is that you can see whether your tenants are living within the terms of the tenancy agreement e.g., no smoking or pets. It also gives you the chance to spot faults that may develop such as damp on a wall which the tenants may either not notice or bother to tell you about. Fixing things early on is a lot cheaper than letting them develop.
Then of course, you must do the same thing all over again when it comes to your check-out report. This will show up any discrepancies and if there is damage for which you can claim if it has been caused by the tenant.
Dan , 19 November 2021
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