In our experience, it is highly recommended to have a fully completed, unbiased property inventory and Schedule of Condition prepared before the Tenant is due to move into the property.
There is no legal requirement for the inventory to be drafted by a professional Clerk, however, there is a reason why Clerks become accredited by organisations such as the Independent Association for Inventory Clerks (AIIC) and that is 1) they are kept up to date and operate within the legal framework of residential letting 2) they ensure that professional standards are always maintained and 3) the inventories themselves are unbiased and may hold more weight in court.
Creating an inventory can be very time consuming, particularly if the property has many bedrooms and is furnished, however, if you have the time and inclination, you can purchase a property inventory template (like the example below) and complete it room by room ensuring your descriptions are accurate and fair.
When you are “checking” the Tenant into the property, it is wise to go through the inventory with the Tenant and ask that they sign each page if they are happy with it contents and description about the fixtures and fittings in the property.
You should make amendments to the inventory if the Tenant does not agree with you. Remember, the same applies as in the description of the property, use specifics when describing the fixtures and fittings. This inventory will be a vital document at the end of the agreement should the Tenant dispute any damages.
Make sure that you point out where the Tenant reads the meters for Gas and Electricity, show them how to use the alarm (if applicable) and where the ‘stop tap’ is located.
Tip - Meter readings should be recorded on the Inventory at the start and end of each Tenancy.
It is good practice to include the Manufacturers In Use and Safety Instructions with every item provided and list this on the Inventory. This will help in the event that an item is damaged by misuse.