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Why Inventories Are Important - everything landlords should know

What is a property inventory?

A property inventory is a detailed document that records the condition of a property and its contents at the start and end of a tenancy. It includes a Schedule of Condition/Check-In Report, evaluating everything from décor to structural elements like floors and ceilings as well as meter readings and the location of important things such as the water stopcock and meters.

This document helps landlords and tenants keep track of any changes during the tenancy and resolve disputes efficiently. Tenants have the right to be present during inventory checks to ensure accuracy. 


Whilst some experienced landlords conduct the inventory, it is commonly done by an independent inventory clerk who is unconnected to the property, agent or landlord and can ensure they are impartial. 

Why are property inventories important?

A property inventory, carried out at the beginning of a tenancy, helps stop both parties from getting into deposit disputes when the tenant moves out. 

When the tenancy ends and a checkout inspection is performed, the property's current condition will be compared with the inventory records. Wear and tear is, of course, expected: carpets will be walked on and kitchen appliances used. 

However, sometimes there is damage or neglect which is considered beyond ‘reasonable use’ that may mean the landlord wants to retain some - or all - the deposit to cover for replacements or repairs. 

If disputes arise, both the landlord and tenant need evidence to support their claims, found in the inventory and check-in report. Without this, making a successful claim would be very challenging.

What is a Check-In and Check-Out report?

A check-in report, also known as the schedule of condition, documents the condition of everything in the property when the tenant moves in and accompanies the inventory report.

Ideally, the check-in should be carried out on the day tenants move in and it’s beneficial for them to be present.

A checkout report is a detailed assessment of the property’s condition at the end of a tenancy. It compares the property’s condition against the initial inventory report and any interim inspections. The checkout report should be conducted when the tenant leaves the property with all their belongings. It lists any recommended actions, usually assigning responsibilities to either the landlord or tenant, facilitating a quicker end of tenancy and return of the deposit, either in full or with agreed deductions.

Does the inventory report need to be signed?

While it’s not mandatory to sign the reports, doing so is recommended to avoid any potential disputes.

Both the landlord and tenants should sign the inventory document to confirm it accurately reflects the property’s condition. 

This is also a good opportunity to ensure the document contains correct names, dates, and addresses, as even minor errors could cause problems in case of a dispute. An electronic proof of delivery and signature should be sufficient; the inventory could be dozens of pages and include up to a hundred photographs so printing it could be expensive!

Does the tenant Have to be present for Check-In or Check-Out?

Tenants are not required to be present during inspections, but it is recommended, and many choose to do so. Being present allows tenants to clarify any doubts or concerns about the inspection and ensure everything is agreed upon and documented correctly. Tenants can also voice any issues or complaints about the property during the inspection, and the inspector can guide how to resolve them. 

It’s in the tenant’s best interest to be present to ensure all parties are on the same page and to facilitate a smooth inspection process.

What if an Inventory report wasn’t provided?

Without an inventory, check-in, or check-out report, it can be difficult for landlords to prove the condition of the property at the beginning of a tenancy. This could lead to disputes over issues like cleanliness, and complicate deposit claims at a later date.

In disputes without an inventory or check-in/check-out, adjudicators will consider any evidence provided, such as a cleaning invoice with a date and cost. However, reaching an agreement is much harder if the parties do not agree. For example, it cannot be proved that the property was clean when the tenancy began or the state of repair of furniture or appliances before they moved in.

If there’s a dispute over the deposit return, having an inventory/check-in report increases the likelihood of a successful claim.

A property inventory protects both landlord and tenant. A tenant should be wary if they are asked to hand over a deposit without an inventory. 

* Handan Rolande of Exact Inventories has been working in the property business for over 20 years *


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    Waste of time I done them for 35 years then Shelter the un-Elected Organisation with Charity Status that Houses no one interfered & introduced Compulsory Deposit Schemes alleging 44% of Deposits were withheld by landlords the truth turned out to be less than 2%.
    What’s the use in having Elections when laws are made by others and invited into Parliamentary Select Committee.
    Therefore I give up talking Deposits because of the unfair Penalties attached like if you failed to register the Deposit or any thing wrong with its protection then you are required to give them back 3 Deposits that you never got + the Deposit. So you think it’s important to have an Inventory in the face of blatant Discrimination. Also what use is an inventory when you got arrears.

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    Strange! 🤔 No mention of photos with time and date stamp for check ins and outs as recommended by DPS. Perhaps Handon Rolande (any relation to Jonathan?) needs to work another twenty years in the property business. 😂

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    Well said, Michael. Inventories when dealing with the type of tenants I do are not cost-effective.
    Jim Haliburton the HMO daddy


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