An inventory is a document which records the condition and contents of a property. As a tenant you will be responsible to take care of the rental property throughout the tenancy. If the condition of the property goes beyond an agreed amount of “wear and tear” then it’s likely that some or all of the deposit could be taken to repair any items and areas in the house.
The main benefit of creating an inventory is that it helps you to avoid disputes when it comes to the end of your tenancy agreement and the return of your deposit. The original condition of the property will be indisputable if you have everything documented in writing including any images or videos.
The landlord or letting agent should prepare the inventory before you move in and it should be agreed and signed by both parties at the start of your tenancy. When sharing a house, make sure everyone is there when the inventory is signed and agreed.
If an inventory has not been drawn up when you move into a property, it’s recommended that you make your own inventory. Make sure you then agree it with the landlord or letting agent before or immediately after moving in. It’s also a good idea to take your own photos/videos or get copies from the landlord/letting agent and keep as evidence for when you move out.
Before move out day the landlord or letting agent will re-visit the property to check its condition and contents against the inventory. You should get your deposit back in seven to fourteen days if you and your landlord or letting agent are in agreement about how much should be returned to you. For more information on a deposit, please read our deposit information here.
If there is a disagreement between the landlord and tenant about the condition of a particular item or room it will be referred to an independent and free Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service provided by the scheme the tenants deposit is secured with. The Citizens Advice Bureau has further information on this here.
Both parties will have to put forward a case as to why they disagree, which is why it’s important that everything has been documented and you have the evidence to back up any claims.
As soon as any damage occurs, it’s best to let the landlord or letting agent know. They may be happy for you to fix the damage yourself, such as replacing a damaged lampshade or repainting a wall.
If both parties agree that something has been damaged and can’t be fixed by the tenant (i.e. damage to a carpet) then estimates must be given for the cost of repair or replacement. The landlord or letting agent should then inform the tenant of the deductions to the deposit.
The next stage requires the landlord or letting agent to inform the relevant deposit scheme what deductions are being made and the tenants deposit will be adjusted accordingly.
If the deposit is not enough to cover the damage then the landlord or letting agent will invoice the tenant for the difference.
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