Inventories – and how to avoid disputes

One of the most important pieces of documentation you will have as a landlord is the property inventory. To ensure that you protect your property and prevent deposit issues with your tenants, we have a guide to inventories and avoiding disputes: The outcome of a dispute is decided at the start of a tenancy – not the end! The inventory must be prepared prior to any tenant moving into a property.

At check in your tenants should use the prepared inventory document to go around the property and note any changes to the report. Through-out the tenancy periodic inspections should be carried out to note any damages maintenance or changes that do not correspond to the original inventory report. At the check-out, compare the condition of the property to the initial inventory to identity any deductions to be made from the deposit.

No Inventory – No Evidence

If there is no inventory…. You will not have any evidence to offer your deposit protection scheme in the event of a dispute. Inventories and the details they provide are critical for the adjudication process to make a resolution much easier and quicker. The quicker the process at the end of the tenancy, the shorter the void period in between tenants, which will ensure you don’t miss out on rental income.

Dependant on your landlord insurance provider and the type of cover, not having an inventory could breach your terms.

What makes a good inventory?

A good inventory should be unbiased and complied to a professional standard. The report should list and describe the quality of the property contents, décor, fixtures and fittings for both interior and exterior.

 An inventory does not just list the items within a property but also the condition of the building and its contents. As 85% of deposit disputes involve cleaning it is important include photographs within the report- date stamped if possible. Meter reads and serial numbers are important and a declaration page should also be included signed by all tenants.

How to Check In?

The inventory should be checked, agreed and signed BEFORE the tenant moves in. The report should be used to check all rooms, and make appropriate amendments, both parties should agree on the amendments and photographs.

Only when the inventory is agreed and signed should the keys be released to the tenant.


Checking Out

If you plan to make any deductions from a tenant deposit, the tenant must be notified within 10 working days of any proposed deductions. A full schedule of costs should then be completed within 28days of the check out. If a dispute arises the landlord must take reasonable steps to resolve the dispute before referring it to the DPS. If no agreement can be reached the scheme must be involved.

The Dispute Process

The decision is made purely upon evidence provided by all parties. This includes, tenancy agreement, inventory check in and out reports.

The adjudicator will not visit the property, call you or the tenant, but they will consider photographs and property inspection reports. You must also supply receipts or estimates for any works completed as a result to damage at the property. The scheme aims to resolve the dispute within 30 days of receipt of the evidence. The decision by the adjudicator is final and binding on all parties.

Recommendations from Deposit Schemes

 Inventories must be produced to a high and professional standard.
 All schemes prefer landlords or agents to use independent inventory firms.
 Always include photographs with the report. Date stamped if applicable.
 Accompany the tenant at check in and check out
 Conduct regular documented property visits.


Kirsty at lemon street lettings