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A Landlord's Guide to Rental Property inventory & inspection

By Eitan Fox  //  Tue 6th October 2020
Some landlords believe that if their property is not fully furnished then they do not need an inventory. This is a grave mistake to make.
How to create a property inventory
Inventories and inspections are an essential part of being a landlord. In this article we explain what landlords need to know regarding drawing up an inventory and the ins and outs of a property inspection.

Landlord Property Inventories

What is a landlord’s property inventory?

An inventory is a full list of every item within a property, including notes of the condition of every item stated. A good inventory is often supported by photographs. An inventory should cover:
  • Walls and ceilings, including paint colours
  • Windows and doors
  • Floor coverings
  • Kitchen and bathroom units and appliances
  • Fixtures and fittings
  • Garden
  • Garages and sheds
  • Furniture
An inventory helps to minimise the potential for acrimony between the landlord and tenant at the end of the tenancy. Without an inventory, a landlord will find it difficult - or impossible - to prove that some items are missing or that the property has been altered or damaged. This makes it hard to claim financial payment from the tenant by withholding some of the money held on deposit. An inventory also helps a tenant to know what their rights and entitlements are.

Are inventories needed for an unfurnished property?

Some landlords believe that if their property is not fully furnished then they do not need an inventory. This is a grave mistake to make. An inventory should record the condition of the garden, the condition of the internal walls and the cleanliness of the property at the beginning of the tenancy as well as the fixtures and fittings.

How to create a property inventory

A proper inventory should contain both detailed descriptions and photographs and can easily run to 40 or 50 pages.

Landlords can carry out the inventory themselves. ‘Off the shelf’ inventory packages, in both hard copy and digital format are available.

Alternatively, landlords can save themselves time and hassle by outsourcing the process to an independent specialist. This also gives landlords the added protection of the work being carried out by someone completely impartial, which can be very important if there is a deposit dispute at the end of the tenancy.

Two inventories are required per tenancy: a ‘check-in’ inventory, and a ‘check-out’ inventory. Both the tenant and the landlord should sign the check-in inventory before the tenancy begins.

Landlord Property Inspections

What is a landlord property inspection?

The primary purpose of a property inspection is to evaluate the overall condition of the property and to check that the tenants are complying with the tenancy agreement.

Inspections also provide an opportunity to build a relationship with the tenants. Landlords should not undervalue this as good relationships with tenants can be the key to a profitable and stress-free tenancy.

Periodic inspections are typically conducted on a quarterly basis but are often reduced to every six months once landlords are confident that the tenants are looking after the property. Carrying out an inspection one month before the end of a tenancy can useful as it allows landlords to identify any issues that may occur at check-out and gives tenants a chance to address them and avoid deductions from their deposit.

While it is important to make regular inspections, it is equally as important not to make too many as it could be deemed as harassment.

How should I give tenants notice of a property inspection?

Landlords must give 24-hours notice and arrange to visit at a reasonable time of day that allows the tenant to be present. Notice should be given in writing, this could be a letter, email or text message and should include who will enter the property and for what reason. Landlords are advised to keep records of both the request and then tenant's acceptance.

What should I be looking for during inspections?

We recommend checking the following:

Damp and mould
This can be quite dangerous and is easily overlooked by tenants. It is also easier to deal with damp and mould if you spot the problem early.

Check around windows and sinks and pay particular attention to rooms prone to moisture, such as the kitchen and bathrooms. Make sure that any extractor fans are working.

Read our article ‘Damp and Mould in Rented Property’ for more information.

Leaks
Run all the taps and check for leaks. Also, check the drains to make sure they are not blocked.

Fixtures and fittings
Give any items you have provided a once over to check they are in good working order.

The garden
If the tenancy agreement specifies that it is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the garden, then make sure it is neat and not overgrown.

The loft
It is likely that your tenant will not pay attention to the loft, so it’s worth having a quick look to check for holes, leaks or signs of rodents.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are working at the start of the tenancy. It is the tenant’s responsibility to check they are still working throughout the tenancy. However, it is a good practice to check these at a periodic inspection of your property.

Property inspection report
Landlords should create a report at the end of the inspection that they can send to tenants and keep on file, as proof that they are complying with their responsibilities as a landlord.

What if the property is not in good condition?
If there is damage caused by the tenants, poor cleanliness or missing or broken items, the landlord should contact the tenant and ask them to take appropriate action to resolve the issue. Bear in mind that there is a fine line between ‘fair wear and tear’ and ‘damage’, landlords can’t make tenants liable for fair wear and tear.

Minor maintenance jobs, such as fixing a door handle or light switch, may be carried out there and then to avoid them escalating into major repairs. However, if the job is going to take a long time, landlords should liaise with tenants over a convenient time to return.

Need Help?
As letting agents, we can assist with drawing up inventories and conducting periodic inspections to ensure a smooth-running tenancy. For more information and help with any aspect of property rental, contact us today.

Offices at

Marble Arch
29 Edgware Road
London
W2 2JE
f: 020-7258-3090
Knightsbridge
34 Beauchamp Place
London
SW3 1NU
f: 020-7581-7005