Landlords should compile clear inventory to help avoid disputes

Tara Doughty
Tara Doughty
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Newman Residential Lettings in Leamington offers advice to landlords about inventories.

One of the best ways to minimise the risk of disputes with tenants over the return of deposits at the end of the tenancy is to compile a comprehensive and clear inventory at the start of every tenancy.

It is best practice for a detailed inventory to be carried out at the start of the tenancy. If tenants are aware that the state and contents of the property has been itemised, they are more likely to ensure that the property is left in the same condition in which it was originally let.

Inventories are particularly important now that tenancy deposit schemes are in place across the UK as they form critical evidence in cases of disputes.

At check-in, the inventory should detail the current state of the property, including descriptions, age and condition of the fixtures, fittings and furnishing. This helps landlords and letting agents compare the state of the property at check-in and at check-out.

Make sure the inventory is written in clear language, and defines the terms used to report the condition or cleanliness of items in the property. It must be clear enough for a third party to understand without them being present.

If an inventory is not carried out, or if it was insufficiently detailed, then it may not be clear how the property should be left before departure, which could lead to a deposit dispute.

Dealing with a deposit dispute can be stressful and costly for those involved so it’s always preferable to avoid this.

Make sure that your tenancy agreement deals with specific topics such as who takes responsibility for the garden and its upkeep, and the levels of cleaning required at check out.

The National Approved Letting Scheme recommends that landlords or agents conduct a mid-term and a pre-check out inspection which can also help resolve any issues and avoid a dispute.

Landlords and agents can enlist a reputable inventory company to prepare the inventory although it is not advisable for landlords to undertake an inventory themselves.

Inventories should include numerous photographs, be digitally date stamped or embedded into the printed inventory. Some landlords and agents also prepare video inventories, with commentaries and close ups of fixtures, fittings and furniture.

However, there is no point in having a comprehensive inventory if neither you or your agent are going to check it with your tenant at the ‘check in’ stage and obtain a signed copy.

Newman’s branch manager Tara Doughty said: “It’s vital that a landlord invests in an inventory and ensures it’s signed and acknowledged by the tenants as soon as they take possession.

“Failure to do so can lead in lengthy disputes when it comes to the tenant vacating and if the landlord cannot provide proof of the property condition, in most cases the dispute is awarded in favour of the tenant.

“Here at Newman Residential Lettings we use a professional inventory company and ensure the ‘check in’ is carried out swiftly.

“If a landlord instructs us to manage his property we will also make regular checks on the property during the tenancy. But landlords, be warned – choosing not to have an inventory due to cost can be a false economy and cost you more in the long run.

“We appreciate that for all landlords the initial set up costs can start adding up so for the month of March we are offering all *new landlords or properties a free inventory.”

For more information call 01926 436135 or email tara.doughty@newman.uk.com