A property inventory process is crucial if a landlord wants to protect themselves against picking up the bill for property repairs caused by a tenant.
However, to be useful during a dispute, especially if the matter goes to court, it’s important that the inventory has been thoroughly completed as part of a well-managed process so that it covers every aspect of a property and is correctly preserved.
Why is an inventory system necessary?
One of the most common causes of disputes between landlord or letting agent and a tenant is over the return of a deposit at the end of a tenancy, especially if some needs to be retained to cover repair or replacement costs.
For all assured, shorthold tenancies in England and Wales which began after 6 April 2007, landlords must place deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) where it is legally protected.
A landlord, or their letting agent, must return the deposit in full if the tenant meets the terms of the tenancy agreement, doesn’t damage the property and pays their rent and bills. However, if you end up in a dispute with your tenant over the state of the property when they leave, the deposit remains protected in the TDP scheme until the issue is sorted out.
In this scenario, a well-managed inventory system provides the crucial evidence needed to settle any dispute and allow you to cover the cost for any damage.
What should an adequately managed inventory cover?
A property inventory is a comprehensive written and photographic report detailing the state of your property, including outside spaces, at the beginning of a tenancy.
It provides information on the furniture, fixtures, fittings and general wear and tear, details keys, appliance manuals and meter readings. Anything damaged or missing should be recorded in front of the new tenant.
A report also includes a safety section to record the evidence that a landlord or letting agent complies with safety regulations, such as smoke/CO detectors and the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations, 1988.
An inventory must be scheduled for the check-in and check-out procedures of a tenant, to record the property’s condition as the tenant departs. This clearly shows any changes that occurred during the tenancy. Additional checks can also be scheduled during the tenancy.
It is important that all inventories are fully documented and witnessed. Having a professionally prepared inventory can help establish the landlord’s credibility if the case goes before a tribunal or judge.
How does inventory management benefit the landlord?
The details recorded in a property inventory provide the evidence needed to prove whether the damage was done during a tenancy and if it was the responsibility of the tenant. This makes a subsequent claim by the landlord or their letting agent against a protected deposit or zero-deposit replacement insurance much simpler and more likely to be upheld.
A detailed inventory also helps reassure your tenant that they won’t be blamed for any damage they weren’t responsible for. This gets the relationship between landlord, or letting agent, and tenant off to a good start and a happy tenant is much easier to deal with than an unhappy one.
No Letting Go
At No Letting Go we offer an independent and unbiased professional inventory management service, providing a written and photographic report on the condition of the property and its contents.
If you would like to find out more about how our local support or national network could support you as your property management partner to streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories, then contact us today.
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