Inventories and check-in and check-out inspections are an essential part of being a responsible landlord. In this article, we explain what landlords in Knightsbridge and Marble Arch need to know regarding drawing up an inventory report and the check-in/check-out inspections.
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 report is often supported by photographs. An inventory check should cover:
- Fixtures and fittings
- Floor coverings
- Garages and sheds
- Kitchen and bathroom units and appliances
- Walls and ceilings, including paint colours
- Windows and doors
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.
Once you have created a property condition or inventory report, you should share a copy with your tenants and ask them to agree and sign it upon check-in.
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 templates, in both hard copy and digital formats 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.
What is a landlord property inspection?
The initial ‘check-in’ property inspection allows a landlord or letting agent to compile an in-depth inventory report on the rental property, both inside and out.
Carrying out an inspection one month before the end of a tenancy as well as on the final day can be 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.
Why inspections are necessary and required?
The primary purpose of a property inspection is to evaluate the overall condition of the property at the point of check-in and so that an inventory report can be produced.
This allows you to make a record of the current state of the property so that you can protect your investment and avoid disputes further down the line.
A preliminary check-out inspection around one month before the tenants move out can be a good idea to allow them to address any issues.
You should then conduct another final inspection upon check-out, comparing the condition of the property with the initial inventory report to see if any repairs are needed. This is the critical final report, prepared at the property on the last day of the tenancy that helps determine any damage that your tenants may have caused from not maintaining the property as per the tenancy agreement. In this case, you would need to deduct fees from their tenancy deposit.
However, you must be careful to recognise normal wear and tear and anything that is the landlord’s responsibility.
To comply with regulations, landlords or letting agents should give tenants at least 24 hours’ notice but ideally 2 weeks’ notice of the date of the check-out inventory, which must be at a reasonable time of the day.
Inspections & Inventory Reports
Below we look at what landlords, letting agents and third-party inventory clerks should be looking for during a check-in/check-out inspection.
We recommend checking the following by cross-referencing against the original inventory report and highlighting any differences:
Damp and mould
This can be quite dangerous and is easily overlooked. It is also easier to deal with dampness 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.
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.
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. You should also check the condition of any sheds or outhouses.
In most cases, 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.
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 when checking out?
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.
Letting agents & inspections
If you prefer not to carry out the inspections yourself, then you can use your letting agent to manage this on your behalf. It is important to check that they actually visit the property and provide you with a detailed report afterwards.
Alternatively, you can use a third-party independent inventory clerk. The advantage of this is that they are impartial.
When new tenants check in to the property, it’s a good idea to point out to them that you or your letting agent will be visiting regularly for inspections, that a report will be made and any damage they cause will affect their deposit.
All tenants have the right to “quiet enjoyment” of their home, which means that you or the agent must seek permission by giving 24 hours’ notice and the inspection must be at a reasonable time of the day.
Inspection clauses in tenancy agreements
Any tenancy agreement that you have with your tenants, should have ‘inspection clauses’. These should be under the ‘Landlord’s Obligations’ and stipulate to the tenant that the landlord has permission to access the premises for certain reasons, one of them being to conduct a check-out inspection.
Although the landlord is legally entitled to enter for certain reasons anyway as part of their Landlord Obligations, it’s good to have it clearly laid out so that the tenant agrees and it also helps avoid future disputes.
When seeking to enter the property for an inspection you must follow the regulations and respect your tenant's legal right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ by:
- Seeking written permission.
- Giving advance notice to tenants, at a minimum of 24 hours prior (except in an emergency).
- Requesting to visit the property at a reasonable time of the day.
If you have followed the guidelines above and you have a genuine reason for entering the property, such as a property check-out inspection, then you have an implied right to access the property.
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.