Producing a meticulous inventory is one of the best things a landlord can do before the tenancy agreement is signed. If your property is damaged during the course of the rental, you will need to have proof before you can claim any of the deposit money. This is particularly important now that the deposit must be kept in a tenancy deposit scheme. If there is a dispute over damages and how much deposit is to be paid back, a dispute resolution service will place the burden of proof on the landlord.
Protect yourself and your property by following these five tips:
1. Compile a detailed check-list
Include descriptions of the conditions of all content, all fixtures and the state of the décor and furnishings. Make sure that the tenant signs and dates the lists – this shows they agreed with the descriptions of the property at the start of the tenancy. It also shows that they are aware that it is their responsibility to ensure that the property matches the descriptions at the end of the tenancy. Make sure this is all done before the tenancy begins: if they damage something after moving in, having not signed the inventory, you won’t be able to prove the fault lies with them.
2. Take pictures
Take good quality pictures of the property and make sure that the date they were taken on can be verified. Be sure to take pictures of particularly expensive items of furniture and fixtures. Take pictures of anything that is already slightly damaged in case the tenant makes it worse. Pictures can show explicitly what has happened through the course of the rental and will make disputes much easier to settle.
3. To emphasise: sign and date!
In a worst case scenario, a tenant trying to fleece you at the end of the tenancy might even claim photos were taken on a different date. After all, even the camera’s internal dating system can be altered! Make sure the tenant signs and dates copies of any pictures just to be on the safe side.
- Make two copies
Give a copy of the inventory and the pictures to your tenant, along with any tenant instructions. This way, they can keep tabs on how the property is looking and perhaps even cross reference the condition of the property with these documents before the final check out.
5. Do a thorough check-out
Don’t go through the inventory until the tenant has packed away their possessions. It will be much easier to see any damage done to the property without their belongings and furniture around. Take a look at our advice on the tenant check out for more information.
For a comprehensive, free guide on inventories, check out this booklet from my|deposits, one of the government-approved tenancy deposit schemes.
Chalk checklist by Mufidah Kassalias is licensed and edited under Creative Commons.