Creating An Inventory: A Landlord’s Guide
One of the most important tasks for a landlord to carry out before leasing a buy-to-let property with a self-service estate agent is producing a property inventory. An inventory of this type is a comprehensive list of the entire property’s contents, which records their condition of the items and the overall condition of the property. It is essential for a landlord wanting to rent a private property to make time to compile a comprehensive and thorough inventory before letting to a tenant. Inventories generally form a section of the contract which is included in any tenancy agreement between the landlord and the tenant, and they can be referred to in the case of any dispute between the two. It is important to carry out an accurate and detailed inventory to ensure that the property is left as it was found when the new tenant chooses to leave, and so that the landlord can recover any repair, replacement or maintenance costs that may have been incurred during the tenant’s time in the property.
This guide for landlords from online estate agency I Am The Agent outlines exactly how to draw up an inventory for a property, with vital elements that should always be included.
- Start Early
An inventory should be made just before the tenant begins to move their possessions into a property to ensure that the landlord does not mistake the tenant’s belongings for items which were in the house to begin with. This may be done professionally by a third party (which we recommend) or if you do decide to produce one yourself, take photos (dated where possible) and give as much description as possible
2. Check Each Room
The first step in making an inventory is listing every item in every room. This includes everything from artwork on the walls and cushions on the sofas, to bed linen in the cupboards and bathmats in the bathroom. Kitchens are often the most difficult room to compile an inventory for, as landlords don’t tend to enjoy spending their time counting out the knives and forks in their property’s cutlery drawer, but creating a specific and accurate inventory is vital in the case of any disputes that might possibly be taken to court. The more detail that can be provided, the better. This ensures that the document is free from loopholes and cannot be argued with.
3. Detail Condition
Once the list of items in each room has been compiled, it is vital to also verify the condition of each one. If a kitchen table is slightly scratched, it should be noted so that it can be checked for any further damage when the tenant leaves. Possible stains or marks on walls and carpets should be noted in detail, as well as any damage incurred to features such as electrical sockets or drainage systems. Again, the detail here is vital as a thorough inventory is more likely to stand up in court than a sloppy and inaccurate one.
4. Photographic Evidence
To accompany a thorough inventory, many savvy landlords (and some tenants) often take photographs as proof of the state of the property when they first move in. This helps to avoid arguments and disputes when it comes to moving out, and can provide unquestionable evidence should disagreements arise.
5. Attend Moving Day
When the tenant eventually wishes to move on to another property, the landlord should attend the property on the day that they move out in order to conduct their inventory review. It is often difficult to get tenants to return to a property after they have moved out, so doing this on moving day is usually the last opportunity to examine any claims or damages made to the property. The original inventory will be invaluable here, and it is important to structure the document in a way that allows for notes on changes in condition. A table with three columns should suffice: a column listing a description of the item, a column with the description of the item’s condition when the tenant moves in, and then a final column which can be used to describe the condition of the item as the tenant moves out.
6. Insurance Policies
It is imperative that landlords are properly insured on any properties that they are leasing to members of the public in order to minimise the financial cost of any damage that might be incurred. Contents insurance is vital, and taking out this type of insurance under a specialist landlord insurance policy will cover any of the items that were listed on the inventory. It will not include the tenant’s own possessions, so it is important to determine the difference between the two and encourage tenants to take out their own insurance for this purpose.
To find out more about I Am The Agent and its range of self-service options for landlords and tenants, please visit http://www.iamtheagent.com we also provide third party inventories for as little as £99.