A Guide to Inventories and Check-ins

The inventory is conducted by the landlord, their agent, or a professional inventory clerk. They will attend the property, survey the contents and record it's condition.

You do have a say over what is in the inventory. When the landlord/agent/clerk is finished, they send the report to you.

You can then go through the report and can add things or contest things. For example, if they forgot about a chair in the second bedroom you can tell them to add it. Or you may disagree about the condition of the door handle in the bathroom.

You send over all your amendments and then you both either sign it at the check in, or just agree in writing that it is an accurate and comprehensive report of the condition of the property.

What Is an Inventory?

An inventory is a record of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. It is agreed by the landlord and the tenant. If the property is furnished, then it includes the furnishings. If it has outdoor areas like a garden or balcony, then it includes those, too.

The exterior structure of the property (e.g. the roof tiles) is the landlord’s duty to maintain, so it might not be included in the inventory. But the contract may require the tenant to perform some maintenance, such as cleaning the exterior windows or keeping the guttering clear of debris.

For each item in the inventory, there will be a brief description of its condition. For example “light scuff marks” or just “good”. There should be accompanying photographs, too, but some people won’t bother. This is bad practice.

What Is an Inventory vs. a Check-In?

An inventory is one of several things which may be included at a tenancy check-in. A check-in is when the landlord (or their agent/clerk) completes several admin tasks at the property, usually in the presence of the tenants.

Depending on the landlord/agent’s mode of operation, the check-in can include:

  • Performing the inventory

  • Getting the tenant to sign the inventory

  • Handing over the keys to the tenant

  • Taking meter readings

  • Serving the tenant the How to Rent booklet

  • Serving the prescribed information about how the tenancy deposit is protected

  • Showing the tenant the Gas Safety Certificate and the EPC (and maybe also the PAT and the EICR)

  • Giving the tenant the landlord’s emergency contact details, etc.

We at Aegislux think many of these things should happen well before the move-in day. But you should not be surprised to see any of these in a check-in.

The ‘check-in’ concept, I suspect, was created to justify charging tenants a ‘Check-In Fee’ before the Tenant Fees Act banned them in June 2019. Those fees are illegal now, but the concept of the check-in endures.

What Is the Purpose of the Inventory?

The primary function of the inventory report is as evidence in the case that the landlord wants to deduct money from the tenant’s tenancy deposit. It can also be used by tenants to challenge a landlord’s deductions.

Because the report is agreed by the landlord and tenant, and is (or should be) backed up by photos, it is a powerful piece of evidence to show to a deposit scheme’s dispute resolution service.

Other types of evidence (e.g. receipts) are accepted by the deposit schemes, but without an inventory, a landlord would struggle to make any deductions from a tenant’s deposit in the case of them damaging the property of its furnishings. They could try, of course, but without some form of evidence, their claim would struggle to succeed. And the best evidence is an inventory.

If your landlord didn’t conduct an inventory, then they will have a hard time providing evidence to a deposit scheme’s dispute resolution service in the event that they claim some of your deposit and you contest their claim.

But the inverse is true, too. No inventory means you won’t be able to demonstrate what damage to the property already existed before you moved in.

The inventory is a basic process that any competent landlord should complete. So what should you do if they don’t?

You should ask your landlord for an inventory report. If they don’t arrange one, you should take dated pictures of the property so you have a record of its condition. You should let the landlord know the possible consequences, with regard to the deposit, of not having an inventory signed by the tenant.

Would you like to find out more about our Inventory services? Email us with your details and we will come back to you with a quote to book it in.

Please contact our team on E: info@aegislux.com or contact us on +44 (0) 207 692 0772.

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