To help enjoy a risk-free tenancy, it is generally good practice for a landlord to have an inventory which records the condition of the property with written notes, photographic evidence, as well as details of the contents, including fixtures and fittings.
As well as being used as evidence in a potential dispute, a detailed and precise inventory completed at the start of the tenancy, and again when the tenancy ends, also underlines exactly what is expected of the tenant, while it can also help landlords avoid a disagreement in the first place.
But the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) has raised its concern at the apparent lack of tenants signing inventories.
The trade body points to what it refers to as an ‘alarming statistic’ recently published by money.co.uk which suggests that almost four out of five - 79% - of student tenants do not sign an inventory when they move in to a private rented property, which can sometimes lead to tenancy deposit deductions at the end of their tenancy.
But the AIIC believes that fewer tenants would risk losing part or all of their deposit if they simply bothered to check and sign inventories at the start of the tenancy.
Tenancy disputes can end up involving a formal Alternative Dispute Resolution service that tends to side with the tenant if the landlord is unable to provide suitable evidence to support their claim, which includes a signed inventory. This is because the adjudicators’ starting position is the tenant's deposit belongs to the tenant, so if a landlord wants to claim, they have to prove the property's condition at the start of the tenancy.
“Professional inventories which incorporate photo evidence can help to minimise the chances of a deposit dispute,” said Patricia Barber (left), chair of the AIIC.
While some landlords may wish to conduct their own inventories, it is strongly advised that they use an independent inventory firm to compile a factual report and detail of the schedule of condition to ensure that it is impartial and objective, with the cost of this service starting from less than £100.