Renting out your property is an excellent way of earning money, but requires a certain level of organisation to run smoothly. It may be tempting to take a few shortcuts to speed up the process, but persevering with the process is the best option in the long run. 

Property inventories, for example, may seem like a pointless piece of paper, but in reality, it is essential when it comes to damages and deposits. Want to learn more? Keep reading to find out what a property inventory is and why every landlord needs one.

What is a property inventory?

A property inventory is a summary of the property’s condition, with notes on each room. Many people choose to take photos of the rooms as a means of providing evidence of their description. It describes any current damage of the home, as well as listing the contents. As this is a legal document, it’s important that it is as accurate as possible.

Once you’ve handed over the inventory, your tenants will have a check-in. This is when they will compare the property to what has been written and ensure it matches. It offers them the chance to note anything they believe to be inaccurate and request changes before moving in. Once those changes have been agreed upon, the tenant will then sign and date the document as a way of agreeing to its contents. 

As well as having a check-in, there should be a check-out once the tenancy is finished. This is where you will compare the tenancy agreement to the state of the property once the tenants have moved out. Remember to make notes and take photos to back this up, as this is what you’ll use to judge if any of the tenant’s deposit should be deducted. 

Why you need an inventory for a rental property:

As noted above, the inventory is one of the main ways in which you can fairly decide if you should make any deductions from the deposit. Landlords are well within their right to hold back money to cover significant damage beyond wear and tear, so the inventory acts as a form of evidence should you need to make such reductions.

If you don’t complete a property inventory form, your tenants can dispute the damages as there is no proof the property wasn’t like that when they moved in. It means you lose control and must rely on their honesty rather than solid evidence.

Tips on creating a property inventory form:

  • Work from the front door, inspecting every room in order as this will help you stay organised.
  • Don’t just list the furniture, describe its condition.
  • Create your inventory as close to the move-in date as possible to be as accurate as possible.
  • Take photos of each room with close-ups to any valuables or places of particular interest.
  • Consider hiring a reliable professional – such as an estate agent – to do it for you, particularly if you have a number of properties. 
  • Describe the cleanliness of the rooms as well as exactly what is in the room and how it is presented, e.g. the colour of the walls. 
  • Make sure it is signed and dated, otherwise it doesn’t count as a legal document.
  • Remember to update your inventory every time a new tenant is due to move in.

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