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What is an inventory?

All residential tenancy deposits must by law be protected by being lodged in a government-recognised scheme, such as the Deposit Protection Service (DPS), which is evidence based. This means that the decision to either return or withhold a deposit at the end of a tenancy is made by considering any differences between the condition of the property at the beginning and the end of the tenancy.

This can only be achieved when a formal inventory has been created. This is as important in respect of unfurnished properties as it is for furnished ones, because a good inventory is not just a list of contents, but also a statement of condition of those contents and the actual fabric of the building.

For example, whilst the lease may have a clause stipulating that the property must be returned in the same condition in which it was initially taken, how can this be proven without a schedule of condition?

There are several other reasons to have an inventory prepared apart from the obvious one relating to identifying missing contents. Perhaps a tenant has broken something and has replaced it with an inferior substitute – possibly one that does not comply with a landlord’s legal obligations, such as a non-fire-retardant sofa.

An inventory also prevents tenants from requesting repairs or improvements to things that were actually evident at the time of letting. Additionally, when a tenant knows that every item and its condition has been recorded, they are more likely to treat the property with the respect it deserves.

Ideally an inventory should be produced by a professional inventory clerk who is independent of the landlord or his/her agent. Such clerks are trained to record the property’s condition to a set of consistent standards, which is invaluable if a different person undertakes the check-out inventory to the person who conducted the initial one.

Of all the costs associated with letting and protecting your investment, the small cost of producing a watertight inventory is probably one of the most important for your own peace of mind. Why not call us on 020 8359 3399 to see how we could manage your inventory process.

© Richard Rawlings 2019, except where excluded under licence