Property inventory: what you need to know

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To help you get to grips with your property inventory, we’re taking an in depth look at this all-important report and how it relates to moving into your rented home.

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Property inventory
This document is incredibly important as it’s what your landlord will use to determine how much of your deposit is refunded to you when you move out. Understanding your property inventory, and exactly what it means for your rental, will help you protect your deposit and ensure you don’t pay for somebody else’s carelessness.

What is a property inventory report?

A property inventory report is a document that’s created by a landlord, agent or another professional and given to a tenant on the day their tenancy begins. The property inventory is essentially a detailed description of the contents of a property and its condition.

The property inventory will list each room in the flat or house, its furnishings and appliances and any damage that’s visible to the person carrying out the inspection. In some cases, the report will also include photos. This is helpful as it gives a clear visual indication of the level of any damage found in the property.

When you move into a new rented home, you’ll be given an inventory for the property. You should always take some time to check your inventory before unpacking your belongings. Go room to room, carefully ticking off any damage you find. If there are any discrepancies between the property inventory and the condition of the property when you move in, contact your landlord or letting agent straight away to let them know.

When your tenancy comes to an end and you move out of the property, another inventory will be carried out. If this second report finds damage that wasn’t there in the first, or if there are items listed in the original inventory that are now missing, your landlord may take the cost of replacement or repair out of your deposit.

Does a tenant have to sign an inventory?

When you receive your property inventory, you need to check it thoroughly. Go room to room comparing the descriptions in the report with what you find in the house or flat. If you find that there are items missing, or if there’s damage not reported in the inventory, take photos and let your landlord know straight away.

Once you’re happy that the property inventory is accurate, you’ll need to sign the document. Signing the inventory shows that you agree with its contents, so make sure you don’t do this until you’re confident it’s correct.

Does the landlord need to be there?

The landlord doesn’t have to be there when the property inventory is created. They’ll receive a copy of the same inventory as you when you move in. They’ll also get a copy of the inventory that’s created when you move out. This will allow them to decide if any damage has been done to the property during your tenancy.

Is it a legal document?

A property inventory is a legally binding document that provides an accurate in-depth review of the condition and contents of a property at the start of a tenancy.

When should a property inventory be done?

As the property inventory is a document that states the condition of a property upon arrival and departure, it should be done at both the beginning and end of a tenancy.

The property inventory given to the tenants when they first move into a property should be carried out after the previous tenants have left but before the new tenants have moved in. If the property is undergoing professional cleaning between tenancies, this should be done before the property inventory is prepared in order to ensure it’s as accurate as possible.

How do you do a home inventory?

If you’re a tenant moving into a new rented property, it will be the letting agent or landlord, not you, who’s responsible for doing the official property inventory. They’ll probably use a professional inventory company in order to ensure the report is detailed, thorough and accurate.

When you move into a new rented property, you need to check the property inventory carefully before signing it. The best way to check your inventory is to go from room to room. Work methodically, checking fixtures, fitting and furnishings as you go.

Things commonly included in property inventories include:

  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Paint colours
  • Floor coverings
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Kitchen units and appliances
  • Furniture
  • Gardens
  • Cupboards

How long does it take to do inventory?

The length of time it takes to do a property inventory will vary depending on the size of the property and its condition. Inventories on furnished properties also take longer than inventories for unfurnished homes. In general, a property inventory takes a few hours to complete. If you’re a tenant checking their inventory, you should set aside at least an hour to go through it and ensure it’s accurate.

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Who should pay for the property inventory?

For many years, landlords and letting agents were free to charge tenants for rental contracts, inventories, background checks and other unavoidable paperwork required for renting. This meant that tenants were often charged hundreds, or even thousands of pounds, when moving into a rental property.
However, the Tenants Fees Act, which came into force on 1st June 2019, prevents landlords and agents from charging tenants for most essential paperwork, including property inventories. If your tenancy began after this date, it’s your landlord who will pay for the inventory, not you.

Rental property inventory

Where can I find an inventory mock-up online?

Looking at an online property inventory mock-up can be useful if you’re a landlord that wants to manage the property inventory process themselves. It can also be worth looking at a mock-up if you’re a tenant who wants to know exactly what goes into a property inventory.

A number of property management companies offer free mock-ups and templates. Some specialist property inventory companies also offer basic mock-ups, though you may have to pay extra if you want access to a full template.

Tips to ensure everything runs smoothly

As the property inventory is a legally binding document, and as it can have a serious impact on how much of your deposit is returned at the end of your tenancy, it’s essential to give it the attention it deserves. Putting an hour or two aside to run through your property inventory will give you the chance to thoroughly check the document and correct any mistakes.

To help ensure the process is as quick and easy as possible, we’ve put together some tips to help everything run smoothly.

Go room to room

The best way to thoroughly check a property inventory is to work methodically. Working from room to room will also help you to stay focused and help to ensure you don’t feel overwhelmed by the process.

It doesn’t really matter where you start. Although it often makes sense to begin in the living room or hallway as, once you’ve confirmed the comments in the inventory, your movers will be free to start unloading your boxes.
Make sure you check all fixtures, fittings and furnishings in the rented property. Remember, the main things listed in the inventory will be:

  • The walls, ceiling and floor
  • The paintwork
  • Carpets and curtains
  • Any furniture and appliances
  • Fittings such as cupboards
  • Windows and doors

The inventory should also list any smoke or carbon monoxide alarms present in the property. It may also contain gas and electricity meter readings, so make sure you check these to ensure they are accurate.

Although you’ll probably be in a bit of a rush come moving day, try to take your time when checking the inventory. After all, if you miss something, it could end up costing you a lot of money when your tenancy comes to an end.

Take photos and videos

Taking your own photos and videos is a good way to document the condition of the property on move in day. Make sure you focus on any areas of existing damage so you can show exactly how extensive the damage was when you took the property on. It’s also essential to photograph any damage that’s not listed in the inventory. If you fail to do this, you may find you’re charged for the cost of repair when you leave the property.

It’s a good idea to email the photos and videos you take to your agent as a record of when they were made. This is especially important when documenting damage not mentioned in the inventory. You should also keep these photos and videos somewhere safe so you know exactly where to find them when it’s time to move out.

Correct any mistakes

If you find any discrepancies or mistakes in your property inventory, you should have them corrected straight away. As you walk around the property, make notes of any errors on the inventory itself. You should then take this back to your agent or landlord and ask them to confirm your additions.
Things you might need to correct on your property inventory include:

  • Details of anything that’s missing
  • Damage that’s not been recorded
  • Write down if something’s not working
  • Amend incorrect meter readings

Only sign when you’re happy it’s 100% accurate

It’s important that you only sign the property inventory when you’re happy that it’s 100% accurate. If you’ve made corrections to the document, push your agents to confirm your amendments and make sure any photos or videos you send are acknowledged by the agent or landlord. Remember, this is a legally binding document so it’s important that it’s correct.

What are the traps to avoid?

Your letting agent and landlord shouldn’t be trying to lay any traps for you to fall into when it comes to the property inventory. Most mistakes made in inventories are honest, so it’s a matter of working with your agent to ensure the document is accurate.

Running through the inventory methodically, and photographing any existing damage, are the best ways to ensure you don’t end up paying for something that wasn’t your fault.

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Notice

FAQs

Who should pay for the property inventory?

On 1st June 2019, the Tenants Fees Act came into force. The act banned most of the letting fees charged by agents and landlords in the private sector. Following the introduction of the act, agents and landlords are no longer allowed to charge tenants for the cost of a property inventory. Instead, it’s the landlord who should now cover the cost of the inventory.

Can I be charged a check out fee?

The Tenants Fees Act also made it illegal for landlords and agents to charge tenants ‘check out fees’. If your tenancy was entered into before 1 June 2019, any renewal fees agreed at the time will be payable – but only until 31st May 2020.

You should challenge your landlord or letting agent if you believe that they are trying to charge you an unlawful fee. You can also contact Citizens’ Advice for more help dealing with unscrupulous landlords and agents.

Are inventories mandatory?

Property inventories are used widely across the industry. They help to protect the landlord from expensive repair costs and help to ensure the tenant isn’t charged for damage they didn’t cause.

And while a property inventory is a legal document, it isn’t a legally required part of the letting process. If your landlord doesn’t provide you with an inventory, you can request one or make one yourself and supply your landlord and agent with a copy. Although this may not be legally binding, it will help your case if your landlord tries to charge you for damage that was already present in the property when you moved in.

When should I receive a property inventory?

You should receive your property inventory when you move into a new rented home. This gives you the chance to check the inventory against the condition of the property when you get the keys. If you spot any discrepancies, make sure you notify the agent or landlord straight away.

Redactor

Written by eleanor

Updated on 22 Jan, 2021

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