Agents and landlords – what should a good inventory include?

During the check-in and check-out process of any tenancy, one of the most important pieces of documentation you will have will be your inventory.

Not only do they ensure the maintenance and good condition of a rental property, but they are also crucial for preventing deposit disputes between the landlord and tenant.

At the start of a tenancy, tenants will sign a tenancy agreement detailing the rules and regulations they must adhere to. During this time, the inventory must be conducted, agreed upon, and signed by both parties.

Throughout the tenancy, landlords should make periodic inspections to note any damage that does not correspond to the inventory report.

Finally, at check-out, landlords must compare the condition of the property to the initial inventory to identify whether any deductions will need to be made from the tenant’s deposit.

With inventories playing an absolutely vital role in any successful tenancy, it’s important to understand what they entail and which pitfalls to avoid.

Here at AIIC, using our experience as the leading association of dedicated independent inventory clerks, we provide a comprehensive breakdown below.

What should a good inventory consist of?

In layman’s terms, an inventory is a list of all the items and contents in a property, as well as a detailed record of its general condition.

Before the tenant moves in, an inventory is created to ensure the landlord can monitor the state of the property and the items/contents included throughout the tenancy, and when the tenant moves out.

A good, detailed inventory will include a full written report of condition – also known as a schedule of condition – which is a thorough documentation of the property’s interior and exterior. That includes appliances, white goods, décor, fixtures and fittings, all contents, the garden and any outbuildings.

In addition, a full list of keys (and who they’re given to), equipment serial numbers, meter readings and alarm codes should be noted down. There must also be a declaration page at the end of the inventory for signatures.

While it isn’t mandatory, taking video or photographic evidence of the state of the home is advisable – particularly in regard to expensive items. This helps to remove any doubt about the original condition of items if a tenant tries to claim no damage has been caused.

Who compiles an inventory?

A comprehensive inventory requires time, effort, and skill, and should be unbiased and compiled to a rigorous, professional standard.

While an inventory can be crafted by the landlord, it is common to appoint an independent inventory clerk to do the job.

An inventory clerk who will offer an impartial, specialised service must be AIIC-vetted to guarantee peace of mind.

As an association, AIIC are committed to excellence and professionalism in the inventory process. Our efficient members work hard to avoid unnecessary costs and legal disputes – ensuring every party is aware of its responsibilities.

By appointing an AIIC-vetted inventory clerk with specialist knowledge, landlords can have confidence that everyone is legally protected and abiding by the necessary regulations.

Another alternative is for the letting agent to carry out the inventory. This could include the arranging of inventories and the management of the check-in process, quarterly inspections and overseeing the check-out process.

What happens at check-out?

At the end of a tenancy, a final inventory check should be passed as tenants move out. This is when landlords compare the two reports to see what, if anything, to deduct from their deposit.

The tenant must be present during check-out to run through the inventory piece by piece, and both parties should agree on any discrepancies before their deposit is returned. If anything is missing or has been damaged, calculations should be made as to how much it will cost for replacements/repairs.

An independent inventory clerk will mark on the check-out report whether they consider any damage or deterioration to be the landlord’s or the tenant’s responsibility. This should make it easier to decide if deductions need to be taken from the deposit.

On those rare occasions where there isn’t agreement between both parties, a third party may need to be brought in to mediate – this might be the letting agent or a tenancy deposit dispute service.

This, however, should always be a last resort, and all other avenues should be exhausted before taking this route. If the damage is clear, most tenants are likely to play ball. Still, the tenant must be made aware in writing what they owe and how much will be taken from their deposit as a result.

As an agent or landlord, you want to protect your investments and establish smooth transitions from one tenant to the next. Here at AIIC, we are dedicated to promoting the highest possible standards of accuracy and reliability in the inventory process and have been endorsing high levels of professionalism in the inventory business since 1996.

It is our mission to ensure proper information and training is provided and our bank of highly skilled members will provide the best possible service. For more information, please contact us or search for your local AIIC member clerk now.

You can also download a copy of our Code of Practice and Guidelines for Professional Practice guide here.

Published on 10/02/2022