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Property Inventory

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A property inventory is important because it gives the landlord a full and clear description of their rental property condition in case of any tenancy disputes.

What is a property inventory?

A property inventory is the catalogue of a rental property and all its contents. It is a key document in a landlords armery in ensuring that they get their rental property back in something like the condition that they originally let it.  The property inventory is integral to a schedule of condition which effectively records the condition of each item and the property generally when initially let.  The inventory effectively acts as a property checklist for both landlord and tenant to ensure that once the tenancy is ended that both parties are clear about what belongs to the landlord and their rental property and what are the possessions of the tenant.

One aspect that is increasingly important for modern tenancies paradoxically is defining what ISN’T the landlords property.  In other words what junk the tenant leaves behind at the end of the tenancy rather than leaving it for the landlord to dispose of which can be expensive and time consuming.

Effectively, the Property Inventory and Schedule of Condition work together and are often combined in a single report so therefore the name is often interchangeable.

A Property Inventory / Schedule of Condition has several functions:

  • it is a catalogue of the property being let
  • it records the condition of the property and any items that are included in the tenancy
  • it forms part of the legally binding contract that is set out in the tenancy agreement between the tenant and the landlord.

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The property inventory is part of the rental handover process

Normally the preparation of the property inventory takes place as part of the rental handover which means that your new tenant then has possession of your rental property and YIPPEE start paying rent.  Think of it a part of your tenancy checklist.

My thoughts on the property inventory process

Ok I will share my thoughts on preparing a property inventory with your tenant.  The preparation is embarassing and mind numbingly boring.  Imagine,  you have never really met your tenant before and suddenly you are shoved into a tiny flat together discussing topics such as the condition of a toaster (is it good, medium …new or generally knackered) well no landlord is going to admit the latter.  Now moving swiftly on…lets just agree on the colour of the paint…magnolia..beige ….magnolia/beige or is it beige/magnolia.  Well you can imagine that after an hour of this with a complete stranger you are ready to jump off the nearest juliet balcony.  However, it’s important!

Unfortunately, if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy this document is the one that any judge, arbitor is going to look at to prove what you were say about the condition of you perfect letting pad were true.  It’s no good going in there and firing of a thousand photo’s on your latest I-phone.  This is probably going to count for didly squat if things get to court.  So patience and unfortunately cringeworthy silences between you and your new tenant are what are required if you are going to nail your rental property inventory.

How do I prepare a property inventory?

The first thing that a landlord needs to prepare the property inventory is a property inventory template such as the free one that we provide and can be downloaded through our Property Manager software.  It probably take about 30-60 minutes to prepare for a 2 bed apartment.  Longer obviously for a larger property as a landlord has to go systematically around the property noting everything by hand and cataloging things as they go.  This is important because when the tenant moves out and you carry out your check out then you don’t want them claiming your beautifully newly painted walls were blood and mud splattered when they moved in that’ not fair wear and tear!

What is fair wear and tear?

Fair wear and tear is the wear and tear that you would expect in a property during the normal and reasonable use.  So in essence it’s how beaten up it gets during normal reasonable use.  What is fair wear and tear is incredibly difficult to measure but is also very important when it comes to deciding on what element of the tenancy deposit to pay back to your tenant.

Can I use images for my property inventory?

The short answer is YES a landlord can use static and video images for their property inventory but they must be used as supporting evidence to your main property inventory form.  This is because courts, judges and adjudicators all like to see a nice form first when assessing any claim for damage.  If you do want to use images in a property inventory check out the details in this previous article.

Do I have to prepare my own property inventory?

If you feel that you want to pass on the responsibility for preparing the property inventory there are a number of professional companies that are out there that can do it for you.  The trade body for them is the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks and details can be found in our Landlords Directory.  I can see merit in employing a professional who presumably will get it right given the added importance now of the property inventory when settling any deposit disputes.

Does a property inventory protect me at the end of a tenancy?

The property inventory itself does not protect a landlord against a tenant damaging your rental property.  However, it does provide a mark in the sand which highlights to the tenant that you are professional in what you do of letting out your accommodation.  It also acts as an insurance policy so that if a dispute does a rise with your tenant over the condition of your property you have a reasonable chance of having your costs reimbursed from the tenancy deposit.  If you do want an added level of protection against your tenant you can also consider taking our rent guarantee insurance.

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