Why are Inventories so Important?

- 25/04/2024

Est. 7 mins

Why are Inventories so Important? blog header

Property inventories are an essential part of renting. These detailed records, formally known as Schedules of Inventory and Repair, ensure that tenants, landlords and agents are all on the same page about a property’s condition at the start of a new tenancy – and they become vital when it’s time for a tenancy to end!

However, there’s variation in the industry with regards the level of detail that inventories should contain. So, let’s delve into the ins and outs of all things property inventory to help tenants, landlords and agents build better relationships and keep properties looking better for longer!

What’s the purpose of property inventories?

Inventories are vital documents for both tenants and landlords because they serve as evidence of the property’s condition before the tenant moved in. When it’s time for the tenant to move out, the inventory can be compared to the current state of the property, making it easier to determine if damage beyond fair wear and tear is the tenant’s fault. This means the tenant won’t be held responsible for any pre-existing issues or damage, and they’re far more likely to get their full deposit back!

For agents and landlords dealing with problematic tenants, inventories can also help to save them time and money in potential deposit disputes, as well as help to maintain the property’s value over time. Plus, by encouraging transparency and accountability from both parties, inventories ultimately help to foster better landlord-tenant relationships!

How can landlords make sure inventories are comprehensive and fair?

Many letting agents and landlords opt for paper inventories. These are created by inspecting each room of the property, including hallways and gardens, and noting down the general condition of the walls, carpets, ceilings, furnishings and furniture with labels such as “new”, “good”, “fair” or “poor”. Appliances like ovens and extractor fans are also inspected, and cosmetic issues or damage in the property such as cracks, stains and limescale are noted down. Paper inventories typically have a space for the tenant to add their own notes or comments before they sign it. 

Double bed in rented property

As you can imagine, paper inventories leave a lot open to interpretation as one person’s version of “good” could be “fair” to someone else. In our opinion, this type of inventory is only marginally better than not having one at all. The best way for landlords and letting agents to ensure their inventories are comprehensive and fair is to create a digital inventory with photos, videos and detailed descriptions of everything in the property. This is the process we follow at Purseglove! 

All parties (agent, tenant and landlord) are then sent a copy of the inventory electronically to sign. This creates an audit trail to show that all parties have opened, read and agreed to the contents of the digital inventory. At Purseglove, we also allow tenants to add their own photos, videos and comments within the first 14 days of the tenancy to ensure the document is as comprehensive and fair as possible. 

Conducting interim property inspections using the inventory

Once a tenant has moved into a property, we recommend that landlords and agents conduct a series of interim inspections which refer to the original inventory document. While many agents don’t see the value of carrying out formal inspections during a tenancy, this can leave landlords at significant risk if there is damage caused. 

At Purseglove, we carry out interim inspections at 3 months, 6 months and every 6 months thereafter, providing there are no causes for concern. Where there are causes for concern, we conduct inspections more regularly. These inspections give us a chance to pick up on things early on and rectify them before they become costly for the landlord.

Take extractor fans as an example. If we notice that the extractor fan in the bathroom is dirty and starting to block up during an interim inspection, we can arrange for it to be cleaned so that it can continue working to keep the humidity low in the bathroom. If no interim inspection was carried out, the first we might know about the dirty extractor fan is when the tenant reports that it’s broken. By this point, a new fan would be required and most likely a redecoration of the bathroom due to mould build up. This is the difference between a £35 maintenance bill and £500+ maintenance bill for the landlord!

Using the inventory to streamline the checkout process

When a tenant decides to move out and hands in their notice, it’s a good idea to provide them with a copy of their original inventory. This gives them ample time to address any issues that may have arisen during their tenancy and helps to streamline the checkout process. 

Unfortunately, many agents overlook this step, which can cause problems for long-term tenants who may struggle to recall the original condition of the property. If they fail to address issues, it could result in the tenant losing their deposit and mean the landlord has to fix the problems themselves before they can re-let the property, increasing the property’s void period.

Cleaning a sofa with a vacuum

Once the notice period is up and the tenant has moved out, the final inspection can take place whereby the landlord or agent compares the property’s current condition to the original inventory, and notes down any differences. Depending on the property’s state, they may need to make a claim against the tenant through the deposit protection scheme, or if the property is left in good condition, the full deposit can be returned to the tenant.

At Purseglove, we handle deposit claims differently. Instead of immediately deducting from the deposit, we give our tenants the chance to address issues themselves within a reasonable timeframe. If they fail to do so, we then proceed with a claim to cover the costs. This approach not only helps to maintain positive relationships with our previous tenants but also simplifies the re-letting process for our landlords.

Understanding fair wear and tear

Understanding what constitutes fair wear and tear is really important for landlords. Depending on how long the tenant has lived in the property, there’s an expectation that some deterioration will naturally occur. For instance, after 10 years it’s reasonable to expect some wear on carpets in high-traffic areas, and it wouldn’t be the tenant’s responsibility to rectify this when they move out. However, if a tenant has only been in the property for 6 months and it requires a full redecoration, this certainly wouldn’t be classed as fair wear and tear!

It’s essential for landlords and agents to be realistic about fair wear and tear. Unfortunately, some have used minor issues as reasons to unfairly claim the entire deposit from tenants. To help protect tenants from this, it’s now a legal requirement for deposits to be held in a recognised deposit protection scheme which will handle any deposit disputes.

The role of cleaning

Surprisingly, the most common cause of deposit deductions is cleaning! At Purseglove, all of our properties and rooms are professionally cleaned prior to a new tenant moving in, therefore it’s important that the tenant understands that they need to clean to that same standard when they move out. 

To help tenants, we offer the option to pre-book move-out cleaning at the beginning of their tenancy, which they can pay for at cost. Alternatively, they can arrange their own professional cleaning service. Regardless, the property must be left as clean as it was on the day they moved in to avoid cleaning costs being claimed from the deposit. 

Partner with Purseglove to protect your rental property!

At Purseglove, we know what we’re doing when it comes to creating a comprehensive and fair inventory that will help to keep your rental property in the best shape possible. 

Get in touch with us today to find out more about our Property Management and HMO Management services!

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