A magnifying glass with a checklist and a model of a house

As a landlord, one of the most crucial steps you can take to protect your property and foster a positive relationship with your tenants is to create a comprehensive property inventory

This detailed document not only serves as a safety net in case of disputes but also sets clear expectations for the condition of the property both at the start and end of a tenancy. 

Here, we’ll walk through the essentials of a property inventory, ensuring you’re well-equipped for a smooth and successful rental experience.

Understanding property inventory

A property inventory is a detailed report that catalogues the contents and condition of your property at the beginning of a tenant’s lease. It covers everything from the condition of the walls and carpets to the number of spoons in the kitchen drawer. 

Usually, a professional inventory will include high-resolution images of the property with any faults found with detailed descriptions. The cleanliness of the property will also be recorded; this allows you to present your property to tenants in the way you expect to receive it back at the end of the tenancy. 

This document is crucial for both landlords and tenants as it provides a benchmark that helps resolve any potential disputes regarding the property’s condition upon the end of the tenancy agreement. 

Property inventory checklist

Crafting a comprehensive inventory

So, you are now aware of how important a property inventory is and we understand that using one is the best way to set the scene on how you expect your property to be treated by your tenants. But, how can you create the most effective property inventory?

Start with a template 

The first step to take is to begin with a well-structured template that covers all areas of the property, including living spaces, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and outdoor areas. Ensure that each section has space for detailed descriptions and conditions of each room/item. 

Making the property inventory 

You can start by creating a template of all of the rooms and items in the property. This is the part where you detail every bit of damage possible (you can hire a professional inventory service to capture details you might miss, ensuring thorough documentation of your assets).

Detail is key 

For each item or area, include a detailed description, noting the condition, make, model (where applicable), and any existing damages or marks. The more detailed your inventory, the more protection it offers.

Photographic evidence 

As mentioned earlier, you should supplement your written inventory with high-quality, date-stamped photographs of the property and its contents. Photos provide clear evidence of the condition at the start of the tenancy and can be invaluable in resolving disputes.

Utilities and metre readings

Don’t forget to record the readings of all utility meters (gas, electricity, water) at the start and end of the tenancy. This ensures being able to fairly bill your tenants and prevents any disputes over utility charges.

The inventory process

So, you have created your property inventory and it is now time to implement it. There are essentially three parts to implementing your property inventory. 

  1. Initial inventory

Conduct the inventory check before your tenant moves in. If possible, walk through the property together, allowing the tenant to add comments or agree with your assessments. This mutual agreement adds weight to the inventory as an official document.

It is important to get the tenant to sign the document at this stage to say that they are content with the condition of the property. 

  1. Mid-tenancy inspections

This part is just as crucial as the initial and final inspection. By conducting interim inspections, you ensure that your property is being looked after in the way that you expect. 

As a result, you can also make sure that any repairs are made that tenants may have neglected to inform you of. This will also save you money in the long run. Remember to always give your tenants a 24-hour notice period before you conduct an inspection. 

  1. Check-out inventory

At the end of the tenancy, conduct a final inventory check, comparing the property’s condition to the initial inventory. This is best done with the tenant present, to immediately address any discrepancies or concerns. This is why the tenant signing the property inventory at the start of the lease is imperative. 

A separate inspection will now be conducted (with a separate report) to see if any further damage has been done to the property (keep in mind that wear and tear is a normal thing and that some damage can’t be completely avoided). 

As mentioned before, it is usually easier to hire an independent inventory inspector here to eliminate any bias. The independent company will then send a separate report to both yourself and your tenant, detailing if any money needs to be deducted from the deposit. 

Property inventory best practices

There are a few things to keep in mind when inspecting a property before, during and after a tenancy agreement ends. 

  • Impartiality counts: Consider hiring a professional inventory clerk to ensure the inventory is conducted impartially. This can add credibility to your inventory and help in case of disputes.
  • Clear communication: Communicate the importance of the inventory to your tenants. Ensure they understand it protects both parties and outlines how they can contribute to the process.
  • Update your inventory regularly: If you make any changes or upgrades to the property or its contents, update your inventory accordingly. This keeps the document current and relevant, reflecting the true condition and contents of the property.
  • Secure agreement: After completing the inventory, both yourself and the tenant should sign the document to acknowledge the agreement. Provide a copy to the tenant for their records.

A well-executed property inventory is going to be your best friend, serving as a critical tool for protecting your investment and building a foundation of trust and transparency with your tenants. 

By taking the time to create a thorough and detailed inventory, you set the stage for a clear understanding and agreement on the property’s condition, significantly reducing the potential for disputes and ensuring a smoother tenancy for everyone involved. 

Remember, the effort you put into your property inventory today can save you time, money, and headaches down the road.

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