Do I Really Need A Property Inventory When Renting?

By Jonathan Daines

Cartoon male sitting on a stool with a paintbrush and a woman in the back ground putting up a picture.

Do I really need a property inventory when letting out my property?

Picture the scene; you enter your rental property to find wide-scale damage that could run into thousands of pounds. To make matters worse, you failed to make a detailed property inventory and schedule of condition.  You’re now faced with the realisation that you may end up having to stump up the cash if your dispute goes south.

While this example is purely hypothetical, we know many landlords who have been faced with this scenario.  After learning the hard way, they now go to great efforts to produce detailed property inventories.

Just this week, I’ve been talking to a private landlord who spent thousands of pounds decorating a property before letting it out.

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The tenants moved in and within a couple of weeks, the tenants had ‘re-decorated’, put up wall paper, used dark coloured paints and hung up umpteen photos using nails and screws. The landlord found out by seeing a post from the tenant on Facebook!

The landlord didn’t carry out a property inventory so when it comes to the end of the 6 month let, what chance will she have claiming on the tenants deposit? Unfortunately as low as 5 – 10% .  With a signed property inventory clearly illustrating the condition of the property, she’d have at least a 99.9% chance of a successful claim.

Do I need a property inventory for unfurnished tenancies?

Don’t fall into the trap of some landlords who think that just because their properties are not fully furnished that they can get away with not having a property inventory – it’s not just about listing furnishings, what about the condition of the property, the cleanliness, the garden or damage to internally-decorated walls, fixtures and fittings?

Whether fully furnished or not, inventories are a must for all.

Do I need an unbiased rental inventory?

It’s also worth investing the time and money in producing a professional and unbiased property inventory and schedule of condition that will stand up to potential disputes at the end of the tenancy. Handwritten lists on the back of a ‘fag packet’ are just not going to cut it if a tenant disputes your claim.

How detailed should the rental property inventory be?

The property inventory must be detailed, ordered and simple enough for the tenant to review and cross check. In the event there is a dispute, the chosen deposit scheme arbitrator is able to clearly digest and see what condition the property was in at the start of the agreement. An inventory document that is poorly presented and overly complicated is neither good for encouraging the tenant to sign nor persuading the arbitrator that your claim is valid.

Should I include photos in the inventory?

Having photos as documentary evidence is also a must. They must clearly show the condition of the property at the time the tenancy agreement commenced.

To be sure your claim against the deposit is successful, it is recommended to have the inventory and photos jointly signed by landlord and tenant.

The advice is clear and simple – make sure you have a detailed inventory and schedule of condition prior to the tenancy, it has to be clear and easy to digest, it must be signed by both parties, and supporting photography (also signed) provides useful supplementary documentation.

Failure to have a landlord inventory service can be a costly mistake.

For further reading:

About Jonathan Daines

As Founder and CEO since 2008, Jonathan’s passion for property, technology and entrepreneurship inspired the creation and innovation of With the support of a dedicated team of industry professionals, for the past 11 years he has built a digital marketplace offering low-cost services that empowers landlords and tenants to let and rent property with ease.

Do I really need a property inventory when letting out my property?
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Do I really need a property inventory when letting out my property?
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    May 24, 2019 REPLY

    As someone who has never taken a deposit, rented out unfurnished property what would doing an inventory do? If the tenant bolts before the last day, are you really going to waste time and money on chasing them.

      June 5, 2019 REPLY

      An inventory is always a good idea, even for unfurnished properties as there are many other items which are included in the inventory. The idea behind an inventory is to protect both the landlord and the tenant and prevent possible disputes when the tenancy comes to an end. In some circumstances where a tenant may leave the property early and becomes untraceable it may not be financially viable to pursue them – you are correct.

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