The inventory is an essential aspect of letting a property, but to be effective, it must be thorough in its detail.
The way to do this is to keep documentary evidence of the property’s condition, through an inventory.
However, an inventory is not just there to protect a landlord’s assets. It can also help tenants when it comes to resolving disputes.
An inventory is, therefore, an essential aspect of good property management.
The Check-in Inventory
Having a thorough inventory at the start of a tenancy can help avoid disputes, especially as incomplete or inadequate inventories may mean a dispute going to costly adjudication.
The emphasis here should be on the diligence of the process, because should a dispute go to adjudication, any weak points will come out.
Following best practice, the check-in inventory, at the start of a tenancy, must have the right level of detail about the condition of the property.
This should include descriptions about fixtures and fittings, and record both their age and state of repair.
It should be in clear, understandable language and define what terms it is using to describe the property and its contents.
Landlords might also consider using an independent third party to carry out the inventory. This has the advantage of impartiality, so that, should a dispute arise, there is no suggestion of bias.
The Evidence Must be Clear
Clarity in an inventory is vital because the inventory can provide the compelling evidence should there be a dispute. It is a record of the cleanliness and overall condition of a property.
If the inventory is independent, then it will not be seen as biased, but rather an impartial record of the condition of the property.
In this, photographic evidence can also be valuable. However, as with other aspects of the inventory, it needs to be presented in such a way that it is unlikely to be open to dispute.
For example, submitting camera-imprinted dates on photographs may risk rejection as evidence from an adjudicator because, in theory, the dates could have been altered.
If, however, you authenticate your photographs so that they are beyond dispute, they become powerful pieces of evidence in your inventory.
One means is to take photographs at the check-in stage and have both landlord and tenants authenticate them then. Another is to include an image of the tenants present when you take pictures or a video for the inventory.
Counting the Cost
As a landlord, you could be left covering the cost of damages or losses when a tenancy is over.
As a tenant, you could lose your deposit if your landlord claims you have damaged the property, or that there are items missing.
An inventory can protect both landlords and tenants, and act as an impartial and valuable, detailed record of evidence.
Your property inventory is a legally binding document, but as such, it must be both clear and thorough:
- It should note any existing defects in your property
- It must detail the condition of fixtures, fittings, and decorations, including the flooring, carpets, walls, and decoration
- The inventory should include a full list of furniture and accessories
- Where applicable, it should have an overview of any garden or outdoor area.
As mentioned earlier, careful use of photographic or video documentation can be enormously helpful, providing you do this carefully.
Expert Property Management
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