An inventory is a binding legal document that provides an accurate written record of the condition and contents of a property at the beginning of a tenancy. Some landlords do not realise that although descriptions can appear uncomplimentary, it is those descriptions that will allow them to prove whether a tenant caused damage or is liable for cleaning costs.
The reason that so many landlords' damage claims against deposits are rejected by Adjudicators is because the property inventory is vague and/or ambiguous. The inventory we will prepare for you will not generalise (i.e. it will not say "unless stated otherwise, everything in the room can be considered good" and, moreover, the meaning of the terminology we use in the inventory (i.e. Good Condition) is clearly described on the front page of the document, so there can be no misunderstanding by your tenant(s) as to its meaning.
Once the inventory has been prepared, we will send you it in PDF format (unless you prefer a hard copy). You will then need to print two copies and get the tenants to sign both copies (and initial each page) when you check them into the property (see below).
If you are unable to physically Check In the tenant(s) then you will need to get both sets of documents signed by all parties when the tenant(s) collect the keys from your office. You then keep one copy and the tenant(s) keep the other.
Our inventory clearly states that the tenant(s) thereafter have 7-days in which to bring up any issues they may have about the inventory, which they can write in the RHS column of the inventory document.
A properly signed copy should be kept safe for use in the event of a dispute.
Should you be unable to Check-In your tenant(s) yourself, then you can ask us to do so. If this is the case then our member of staff will attend at a pre-agreed time and will go through the Inventory with the Tenants and get them to initial every page and sign the back page.
If, in the unlikely event, the tenants have any issues with the Inventory (for example, the tenants ask for a mark on the carpet, which wasn't recorded on the Printed Inventory, to be noted) then the layout of our document allows for those comments to be noted in the RHS column and, provided they are agreed by our member of staff, then he/she will sign the relevant page. Then, the amendments (regarding the mark on the carpet) will be uploaded to the Data stored in our system so that, when the Check Out report is produced, the mark on the carpet (in this example) will be shown. If you do your own Check-In then you should follow exactly the same procedures.
The Inventory must be signed by both the landlord and tenant or their representative. The 'master inventory' (that agreed at the Check-in) should be kept safe for use at the end of the tenancy or in the event of a dispute.
Ideally, at the end of the tenancy a Check-Out inspection should be carried out. If you want us to do this, we will print out a Check Out Report for you from our system and this will reflect the condition of the Property at the time the Tenants signed the Inventory when they moved-in. Then, you can either carry out the Check-Out yourself or, alternatively, we can do this for you.
The purpose of the Check Out is to list any issues that, over and above normal Fair Wear & Tear, the Tenants are responsible for. This could be as simple as the Tenant's failure to properly clean the Property, or it could include damage to walls, carpets etc.
What the Courts or an Adjudicator will require, if you need to make a claim against the Tenant's Deposit, is that a Check Out was carried out, ideally with the Tenant present and that an accurate recording of problems, with photographs, was taken. And, the Courts/Adjudicators will require you to take Fair Wear & Tear into account.
Cleaning is often a major area of dispute. Landlords and tenants are advised to retain all receipts relating to cleaning and repairs carried out before, during or at the end of a tenancy.
It should be noted that an Inventory Clerk cannot comment usefully on any alterations or additions made after the Check-in (i.e. if a new carpet was fitted) unless he/she was instructed to revisit the property in order to examine these changes at the time they were made.