The majority of landlords who let residential property are aware that when requesting a tenancy deposit from their tenant, to comply with government legislation the funds must be registered with a third party deposit scheme – either on an insured or custodial basis, and the relevant prescribed documentation is given to the tenant.
As a landlord, the deposit itself is protection for you and your property: in the event of damage to your building by the tenant, poor cleaning or unpaid rent, you can claim part or all of this deposit to cover your costs. As a rule of thumb, we recommend that you request at least a minimum of 6 weeks rent as a deposit amount. If you are accepting pets in the property, you may want to hold 8 weeks as a minimum. We’ll take care of this part of the tenancy administration as a service included in our Gold and Platinum letting packages.
You may not be aware of just how vital a role your property inventory plays in determining the proper deposit amount to be returned at the end of the tenancy. Property law regarding tenancy agreements suggests that an inventory is ‘best practice’, rather than a formal requirement, however, a properly executed tenancy agreement should always include a signed and dated inventory and schedule of condition of all of the property’s fixtures and fittings. In the event of later damage, missing items or other issues, the inventory could prove one of the most valuable documents when determining that some or all of a tenant’s deposit is owed to you in compensation.
In fact, when it does come to making a claim and you are unable to reach an agreement with the tenant, your chosen deposit scheme arbitrator will require proof of the inventory. If you don’t have one, 9 times out of 10 your case will be awarded to the tenant!
Some landlords make the mistake of including just basic furnishings in an inventory. Of course, any furniture and appliances you provide should be included, however, if letting on an unfurnished basis, the inventory should still include everything else that exists in the property. Make a note of everything in each room including light switches, plug sockets, number of light fittings and shades, of curtains, carpets, walls and garden ornaments. The inventory may also include details of each room’s decorating condition and colours, any ornaments and artwork left in the property, and even the contents of any garden area – including plants and fences. Every last detail should be recorded, and both you and the tenant should sign to say you agree on the final inventory. We would also recommend making a note of the utility meter readings and their locations.
If anything happens to any of the fixtures or contents of your property, the inventory is your proof that they existed in the first place and that they were in the condition you agreed at the start of the tenancy. Good practice would also include keeping photographic records of the property at the time of letting, to support your claim and to demonstrate those contents in situ.
It is possible to draft your own inventory, however, when it does come down to a dispute, the arbitrator would ‘prefer’ to see a 3rd party inventory that would be seen as being unbiased.
Creating an inventory is a skill in itself, in fact, our inventory clerks undergo continues training and development and are all members of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) who are committed to excellence and professionalism in creating professional property inventories. For a small investment at the start of your tenancy, you will have a professional inventory created which can be re-used at the start of any following tenancies, any condition changes made to be noted of course.
If you would like to discuss how we can provide you with a professional inventory, tenant check in, mid-term inspections or tenant check-out, please contact our landlord team on 0333 577 8888.