Preparing my property inventory
It’s been a while since I’ve had a new tenant move in. The new tenant seems amiable enough. A middle aged social worker who according to the letting agent is now renting as a result of a recent marriage break up. It appears he’s also recently sold his marital home; so he should in theory be easily able to pay the rent (No need for a guarantor here I hope).
I always like to prod my letting agent for as many details about the prospective tenant as possible. Part of the Machiavellian approach of "keeping your friends close but your enemies / tenants closer!"
As part of the check in process the preparation of a thorough property inventory is vital, especially given the impending changes to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
To help me with it I thought I’d test drive the new PM3.0 version of Property Hawk’s property inventory software. This worked well, it took me about an hour to create the inventory being careful to include all the rooms, including the attic, and describe thoroughly the condition of all the elements such as walls, ceilings and fixtures.
The 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.
The Big Day of the Inventory
I arrived to meet the smiling tenant with two copies of the newly printed inventory. He was surrounded by his belongings; part boxed, part unpacked. To be honest there is no quick and seamless way of creating a usable inventory. It’s a pretty laborious job (especially if you are in a hurry) of going through with the tenant room by room the state of the property. Legally, it is advisable for each page of the inventory to be initialled by both the tenant and landlord. This is to avoid the situation, should the case come to court that the tenant argued that they hadn’t actually seen or agreed that particular sheet.
So the landlord tenant pantomime ensued. Landlord and tenant, both with a copy of the inventory in hand, trailing from room to room like a couple of bickering lovers. I noted down things that I’d forgotten or misremembered whilst compiling the inventory in the comfort of my own home several hours earlier. Each amendment was then carefully replicated on his copy by my unsuspecting assistant – the new tenant.
Then, when we were both happy; we each initialled the page and then moved on to the next room. At the end of the proceedings; we took the readings for the gas and electricity. If you have a non-digital meter – taking a reading is not always straight forward as I found to my cost; so here’s a useful guide if you have an old dial meter.
After completing the key schedule, recording the type and number of keys handed over to the tenant; we both signed and dated our respective copy of the property inventory. Then we swapped copies to counter initial and sign each copy. As I said “there is no seamless way of creating a legally enforceable inventory".
Finally, I checked that he had all my account details to set up the direct debit (the most important thing!) I then left him to his semi moved in chaos promising to send him a section 213 notice with the prescribed information relating to his tenancy deposit.
Sharpening my inventory making skills
The good news is that my newly refreshed skills in creating an inventory will come in handy very soon – I hope. I now have two more properties to let.
As I highlighted in my recent article about my tenants who recently split up. The remaining tenant has now decided to move out. It transpires that she used the break up to get herself a new job….in Scotland and therefore a house in Nottingham is not really that useful! Good luck to her.
Another tenant has only gone and got herself pregnant. Her and her partner have decided that a one bed flat is no place for a growing family.
‘Hay ho’; I’m off to Sicily for a week; so hopefully when I get back my letting agent will have some positive news about two new lettings for November. Lets hope that new tenants are like the proverbial bus; none and then 3 all come along at once. Ciao.