How to make a property inventory

No matter whether you’re letting a furnished or unfurnished property, creating an inventory is very important. Sometimes called a statement of condition, an inventory will help to protect the position of both landlords and tenants. It can also provide evidence of the condition of the property at the time it was let.

How to prepare

You should always take care when preparing an inventory. Here are a couple of key things to bear in mind:

  • Make a detailed list of all the belongings and furniture provided when a tenant moves in.
  • Record the condition of these items, as well as things such as walls, doors, windows and carpets.

The more detailed the inventory, the better. For instance, if the inventory simply records ‘four chairs’, that says nothing about whether they match, or about their quality or condition. Once you’ve noted the condition of the furniture and fittings, agree the inventory with the tenant before they move in and ensure a separate copy of the list is held by each party.

The inventory should then be checked again at the time the tenant moves out. It will only provide protection if it is agreed by both parties and if it is thorough and detailed.

How to document evidence

Many landlords will use photographs to document the condition of a property prior to it being let. This is a good idea, particularly if the property contains furnishings of a high value.

However, the use of digital photographs is not always accepted by the courts as evidence so it is advisable to print the photographs. What’s more, make sure that both you and the tenant sign and date the photographs as an accurate image.

With some properties, landlords and agents are now also taking videos. However, videos have more limited value in terms of dispute resolution as they are much harder to work with.

Why are inventories useful?

A thorough and detailed inventory will help avoid disputes, particularly those involving the return of a deposit. For this reason, it’s worth making sure that you keep all receipts from any work which is carried out.

Remember that if there is a dispute over the condition of the property, and this goes to court or a deposit scheme adjudicator, it will generally be your responsibility to prove the claim.

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Unipol is an accreditation code working in Leeds, Bradford and Nottingham student letting markets within the universities and Student Unions.

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