A landlord inventory and schedule of condition report is an absolute essential for every landlord. Without it, you could be putting yourself – and your property – in a vulnerable situation.
In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about landlord inventories, including what they involve, why they’re important and when you’ll need it the most.
- What is a landlord inventory?
- What is the difference between a landlord inventory and schedule of condition?
- Does a landlord have to have an inventory?
- Why do I need a landlord inventory?
- How does an inventory help with deposit disputes?
- What are the risks of not having an inventory?
- Do I need a landlord inventory if my property is unfurnished?
- Can a landlord do their own inventory?
- Should I include photos in my landlord inventory?
- Do tenants have to pay for an inventory?
- What other documents should a landlord have?
- How do I book my inventory?
What is a landlord inventory?
A landlord inventory and schedule of condition is a detailed record of all the fixtures and fittings within your rental property and the condition it is in at the beginning of a tenancy. A landlord inventory and schedule of condition should include details of:
- Fixtures and fittings
- Wall coverings (paint colours, wallpaper etc)
- Floor coverings
- Kitchen units and appliances
- Bathroom suites
- Furniture (if part or fully furnished)
- Outbuildings (garages, sheds and other outbuildings)
- All furnished items
What is the difference between a landlord inventory and schedule of condition?
The landlord inventory report aims to provide a fair and accurate record of the decor, contents, fixtures and fittings of the property.
The schedule of condition report provides a statement as to the condition of the items listed in the inventory. The condition of the items at the start of the tenancy should be compared to the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy.
Details of any alterations to the property after the inventory has been agreed upon should be noted on a separate addendum sheet and agreed by the tenant and the landlord. At the end of the tenancy, a check-out report should be conducted to determine any changes to the landlord’s inventory.
Does a landlord have to have an inventory?
A landlord inventory is not a legal requirement, however, it is best practice. Having a complete record of the condition of your property and its contents will save you a world of hassle later on if a dispute should arise between you and the tenant.
Whilst an inventory is not a mandatory, there are in fact a few documents that are legally required. Read our article on legal landlord documents for a comprehensive list of everything you need.
Why do I need a landlord inventory?
A landlord inventory offers you peace of mind knowing that any damage or loss discovered at the end of the tenancy will be evidenced. Without it, it is very difficult to prove that the damage or theft was caused by the tenant or their guests.
If you found damage to your property, garden or contents or if items were missing and the tenant is not accepting liability, you will be able to raise a dispute with the deposit scheme’s Dispute Resolution Service.
Landlord inventories and deposit disputes
Having a detailed landlord inventory (including check-in and check-out reports) will provide sufficient evidence during your dispute and help you to make a successful claim against the tenant’s deposit.
In England and Wales, under the government-backed Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme rules, a tenant’s deposit must be registered with a deposit protection scheme and should be returned to them at the end of the tenancy as long as they:
- Meet the terms of their tenancy agreement
- Do not cause any damage to the property or take items from the property
- Pay the rent and bills
At the end of tenancy, the full or agreed amount of deposit must be returned to the tenant within 10 days of settling on the agreement. If there is a dispute with your tenants, the deposit is protected in the scheme until the issue is settled and an agreement is made.
A tenant dispute and no landlord inventory: one landlord’s costly mistake
LettingaProperty.com recently assisted a private landlord in a dispute with a tenant. There were items missing from the property, the garden has been left in a bad condition and oil had been consumed without the landlord’s permission.
Unfortunately for the landlord, the condition of the garden, the contents of the property and the amount of oil in the tank had not been documented at the start of the tenancy in a check-in report.
Below is an extract from the case arbitrator’s final decision:
“The check-in and check-out reports are the most important sources of evidence in claims for missing items or gardening. Where possible, I compare these reports to establish:
- If any damage happened during the tenancy
- If the tenant is responsible for the damage
- If the property was not as clean as it had been at the start of the tenancy; and
- If the landlord needs any compensation to return the property to its condition at the start of the tenancy, (not including fair wear and tear).
I have not received a copy of the check in or check out report to establish the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy.
The absence of a check-in and check-out report is often detrimental to the outcome of a claim when dealing with claims involving missing items and gardening. The absence of both reports severely limits the ability to ascertain if any deterioration to the property has taken place during the course of the tenancy.”
If the landlord had carried out a landlord inventory, schedule of condition and check-in and check-out reports they would have been able to provide evidence that the damage and loss was caused during the course of the tenancy and the outcome would have been in their favour.
This case highlights the importance of having a detailed landlord inventory accompanied by check-in and check-out reports and why every landlord should have them in place.
Do I need a landlord inventory if my property is unfurnished?
To put it simply – yes, you do.
Some landlords make the mistake of only including 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
- Garden plants, furniture, fencing and ornaments
The inventory may also include details of each room’s decorating condition and colours – even any ornaments and artwork left in the property.
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.
Can a landlord do their own inventory?
Technically, a landlord is allowed to carry out their own inventory, however, it’s not always favoured by deposit schemes during a dispute.
It is best practice for an independent inventory clerk (preferably accredited) to carry out landlord inventories. This helps to avoid any bias and to ensure they stand up in the case of a dispute.
Creating an inventory is a skill in itself. In fact, our inventory clerks undergo continuous training and development and are all members of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) who are committed to excellence and professionalism in creating property inventories. For a small investment at the start of your tenancy, you will have a professional landlord inventory created which can also be re-used and amended at the start of any following tenancies.
Should I include photos in my landlord inventory?
Photos of your property and its contents will strengthen your inventory and schedule of condition. If possible, it’s good practice to include digital date stamps as well. The photos, along with the inventory and schedule of condition, should be clear, easy to digest and signed by both parties.
Do tenants have to pay for an inventory?
No, they don’t. Purchasing an inventory and schedule of condition is the landlord’s responsibility.
Are you aware of what you can and can’t charge tenants for? Find out everything you need to know in our article on the Tenant Fee Ban that came into force on 1st June 2019.
Struggling to stay on top of legal changes? Prepare your self for 2020 by reading our list of 10 New Rental Laws Landlords Must Expect.
What other documents should a landlord have?
Landlords are directly impacted by over 150 pieces of legislation. Naturally, this comes with a lot of paperwork. As a landlord, you must ensure that your certificates are up to date, your tenancy agreement is water-tight, your tenant’s deposit is safely secured, your How to Rent guide has been issued – and that’s is just the start of it!
At LettingaProperty.com, we stay on top of governmental updates and take care of the admin that comes with it – so you can relax knowing everything is safe, secure and legal.
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How do I book an inventory?
Booking an inventory is simple.
Visit our services page to purchase your Inventory and Condition Report for only £99 (inc VAT). While you’re at it, get your all certificates sorted and save up to 20% by bundling up your landlord essentials.
All of our inventory clerks are professional members of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC). Don’t get caught out during a dispute – call us to book your inventory today on 0333 577 8888.