Landlords and inventories… Should they mix?

Anyone who has anything to do with the world of renting, be that landlords, letting agents or tenants, will understand the importance of inventories.

But, the question is, should people carry out inventories themselves? If so, what’s some advice they shouldn’t forget? What can still go wrong?

Let’s take a closer look at professional vs DIY inventories.

The Ins & Outs of Inventories

It’s easy to see why so many letting agents offer property inventory service, and why so many landlords carry these services out themselves.

Inventories are beneficial for all parties. They help solve, or even prevent, disputes at the end of a tenancy, and provide peace of mind for everyone concerned.

Furthermore, they help protect the property from damage, determine fair wear and tear, and ensure tenants get their deposits back by ensuring no unjust deductions are made.

A good inventory will also reduce the risk of harassment during the tenancy, from either side, as everything will have been recorded previously.

Therefore, it’s essential these inventories are carried out correctly.

Is Going Professional an Unnecessary Expense?

But, is hiring a professional to do the inventory a waste of money?

Some believe that simply having an inventory in place is sufficient. Taking a few photos of the rooms, and any furnishings, should be enough to prevent disputes arising.

Why spend money on something you could do yourself? Also if landlords or letting agents sit down with their tenants to go through the inventory together, surely this eradicates the risk of disputes?

Plus, all tenancy agreements will state the condition the property is expected to be maintained in. Therefore, paying for professional inventory services can seem like an unnecessary expense.

What Issues Can Arise with DIY Inventories?

But, despite the initial upfront costs, a professional, independent inventory can end up saving landlords and letting agents more money in the long run.

So, what issues can arise when people do inventories themselves?

The Devil’s in the Detail

If an inventory lacks sufficient detail, what’s the point?

Many letting agents and landlords appear to think that photos are all that’s needed. However, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ doesn’t necessarily apply to the property industry, as you can only tell so much from one photo.

In certain lights, and from certain angles, a room or space can look completely different in a picture.

Also, with DIY inventories, important aspects can be accidentally omitted, as those carrying them out simply don’t consider them. For example, floor tiles. These can be cracked or damaged in some way, but without an inventory, this will be difficult to prove.

So, while an inventory is in place to prevent a dispute, it may end up causing one if not done correctly.

Finding the Time

With all the many different jobs and priorities letting agents and landlords have, inventories often fall to the bottom of the to-do list.

As a result, it’s easy for certain things to slip through the net, and some details are accidentally omitted, causing problems for everyone concerned.

Lack of ‘Know-How’

How many people can confidently claim they understand all the ins and outs of inventories?

For most letting agents, inventories aren’t their speciality. They’re something the business offers, without having fully developed skills or expertise in the area.

Meanwhile, many landlords aren’t necessarily experts in the property industry, particularly where inventories are concerned.

This can lead to inventories taking longer than they should, and lacking in certain parts. If the information isn’t there, it means specific points can’t be discussed at the end of the tenancy.

With an inventory company, these risks are eradicated.

Room for Disagreement

Not everyone’s definition of ‘clean’ or ‘damaged’ are the same. This not only allows room for disagreement, but also for one party to be exploited.

A landlord or letting agent may record something in the inventory from their own point of view. This may seem unfair to the tenant, and without pictures as evidence, a deposit deduction may be unjust.

On the other hand, simply going through the inventory with your tenant at the start of the tenancy might be putting too much faith in their honesty. Tenancy references are undeniably useful, but can’t show you someone’s true character! Some tenants may try to use a lacking inventory as an exploitative measure.

Tips for DIY Inventories

Despite the risk of certain problems arising, many letting agents and landlords continue to carry out their own inventories.

So, what are some handy hints no landlord or agent should forget?

The More Words the Better

Photos should be used as evidence to back-up points made in the inventory, not form the core of it.

Many fall down the trap of having too many photographs and not enough words. This leaves a question mark around the true condition of the property.

Writing everything down, in as much detail as possible, makes for the best inventories. Words will provide the details needed, and a photo can be used to support any claims made.


Inventories should provide clarity.

Therefore, everything needs to be written down and recorded as clearly as possible. This ensures landlords, letting agents and tenants alike are better covered.

An inventory shouldn’t create disputes, but prevent them! When it comes to your property, you can never be too thorough.

Details As Well As Facts

Don’t simply list the key features!

If a floor is carpeted, also take down notes on the condition of the carpet. With inventory reports, facts aren’t sufficient without details to back them up!

The Benefits of Hiring an Inventory Expert

But, inevitably, hiring a third party has indisputable benefits, such as:

Help Getting Signatures

Getting signatures is a vital part of any inventory.

An independent third party has a duty of care to both landlords and tenants, stamping out any risk of a conflict of interests.

If one party, for example the tenant, doesn’t want to be present during the signing, an inventory expert can sign for them.

The key here is that a third party will be unbiased. This only has benefits for everyone involved.

Expertise in the Area

Why not hire the best in the field to do the job?

Getting help from a third party allows letting agents to do their job, excelling in their areas of expertise, while ensuring the inventory is being carried out to the highest possible standard.

Landlords can rest easier at night in the knowledge that the risk of disagreements or deposit disputes at the end of the tenancy has been dramatically reduced.

Solve Disputes Before They Occur

Inventories should be in place so that landlords and letting agents can take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach if any issues arise.

A professionally compiled inventory will determine any disputes at the beginning of the tenancy. At the end, it’s too late!

Preventing disputes is much more desirable than solving them after they’ve occured.

When it comes to your property, why take the risk?

Provide a Safety Net

For landlords, tenants and letting agents, a professional inventory is like a comfort blanket. They carry a lot more weight than DIY versions, simply because of the third party expert. Think of them as an independent adjudicator!

All parties concerned can rest assured in the knowledge an unbiased professional has carried out the inventory.

In many aspects of our lives, we choose a professional service. Why not apply the same principle to inventories?

No Letting Go specialise in providing comprehensive, unbiased, detailed inventories. We’ll take out the hassle of carrying them out for you, by ensuring every inventory is done by an expert, to the highest standard. This will not only help mediate disputes, but prevent them altogether, ensuring every tenancy is a happy one! Find out more about our inventory services here.

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