The Importance of an Inventory
If you’re a landlord, then you’ll be familiar with the process of taking inventory. This process helps to ensure that tenants live in your property without inflicting damage upon it, and that any damage that is suffered is properly monitored. After all, if the landlord is unaware of changes in the state of the property, then they’ll be in no position to assign blame to the tenant and withhold a deposit. In the event of a dispute, an inventory will serve as evidence – but it’ll also help to prevent disputes from occurring in the first place.
When should an inventory be taken?
In order to prevent conflict between landlord and tenant, it’s essential that inventory be as detailed as possible, and that it occur as soon as the tenant moves in to the property. It should provide details of the age and condition of the fixtures and fittings, as well as notes of any obvious flaws – like scratches in the walls. The tenant should ideally oversee the inventory as its being taken, and then sign it once it’s complete.
A check-in inventory should be recorded in concise, clear language. A third-party should be able to understand what’s written without having been present at the check-in. Avoid slang, and overly colloquial or flowery language.
What should an inventory contain?
While every home is different, the key categories of a check-in inventory will remain the same across each of them – that way we can anticipate the problems which are most likely to develop during the tenancy. Let’s examine each in turn, and consider what they might contain.
As you move through the property, you’ll want to be sure that all of the essential utilities work. Make a point of turning the lights on and off when you enter a room in order to ensure that the bulbs work. You’ll also want to get the boiler professionally tested, along with all of the radiators in the property. The tenant will need to know how to read their meters in order to pay for their water and energy consumption. It’s wise to give them this instruction as the inventory is being taken.
When it comes to the kitchen, you’ll want to be sure that all of the items are fully-functioning, and that they’re free of grime, mould and damage. While a tenant might be expected to provide some items, like toasters and microwaves, there are some items which will come fixed into the kitchen itself. These include:
Make a note of any minor, superficial damage you encounter. You should also check the interior of every cupboard and work-surface, ensuring that each is as clean as can be, and that the sink is able to properly drain, and that the taps work.
The place where you’ll be next most likely to encounter malfunction is in the bathroom. Again, you’ll want to check each tap, and ensure that bathtub and sink are able to properly drain. If they can’t, make a note. You’ll also want to check that the toilet is clean, and that it flushes properly.
The bathroom is an area of the house that’s extremely vulnerable to mould, thanks to the extra airborne moisture that it’s expected to endure. Be sure to take note of any grime and mould in the tiling, and around any of the appliances.
You’ll need to check every door in the house, ensuring that each is able to properly open and close. If any stick, then make a note. You’ll also need to make a note of any damage to the doors themselves, to the frames, or to the skirting boards.
When performing an inventory, it’s not often necessary to pore over every square inch of exposed wall in the property. That said, you’ll want to make a note of any obvious blemishes and scratches in the walls. If you’re looking to keep the property a certain colour, then you’ll want a record of it, as well as written instructions that any redecorating will have to be reversed before the tenant leaves the property.
Carpets are particulary vulnerable to spillages and stains, particularly the beige ones that are popular in many properties. You’ll want to make a note of any such stains you find in the carpet, as well as any chips or damages you find in linoleum or laminate flooring.
Windows should be able to properly open and close, and be free from damage. The same should be true of the surrounding blinds or curtains. Double-glazed windows will tend to naturally fail over time; you can usually tell when this has happened during cold weather, when the interior of the window fills with condensation. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to make this observation during an inventory, as you might not have the necessary conditions.
If a property comes with a garden, driveway, or path attached, then you’ll want to be sure that it’s in good condition, too. Make sure that the exterior of the property is presentable, without any rubbish in the grass or around the paths. Check the fences for damage, and see that any gates are able to open and close properly.
If the property comes equipped with a garage or shed, then you’ll want to inspect both in the same way that you inspected the house, making note of any obvious damage and clutter.
What about furnished properties?
In furnished properties, the landlord will have a great deal more to worry about (which is why many landlords prefer an arrangement where the tenant provides their own furnishings). During the inventory, you’ll want to be sure that the bed is structurally sound (though not by jumping on it). You’ll want to also ensure that any drawers can be easily opened and closed, and that wardrobes are as clean as possible. As with every other item in the property, you’ll want to check that wardrobes, sofas, tables, chairs and other items of furniture are clean and free from damage.