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Importance of Property Inventories for Landlords & Tenants

Without a doubt, an inventory (also known as a “check-in” report) is the second most important document in renting a property, with the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement coming in first place.

An inventory, as the name suggests, is simply a documented list of the items and condition of a property including timestamped photographs of every single room and space. It can be quite a large document even for the smallest of properties and ultimately it’s purpose is to protect both the tenant and landlord.

By having documented proof of the property’s condition prior to a tenancy, the inventory helps both parties in the following ways:

  • From a landlord’s perspective, once their tenant vacates and finds that the condition is greater than fair wear and tear (i.e. damages), then in the case of a deposit dispute, they are able to prove the condition prior to move-in.
  • From a tenant’s perspective, if they feel a deposit dispute is not reasonable, then they are able to use the inventory to confirm that what they are saying is accurate.
  • By providing proof of the meter readings prior to move-in.
  • Becoming legally compliant for the tenancy by detailing:
    • The smoke alarm locations and whether they have been tested and are working.
    • The carbon monoxide alarm if applicable and the test result.
    • The gas safety certificate if applicable.

If a tenancy is created using an assured shorthold tenancy, after 6th April 2007, it is a requirement by Government that a tenants deposit is registered with a tenancy deposit scheme (TDS). As it’s very likely a tenants deposit will be registered with a TDS, then for a landlord to make a dispute, an inventory is a crucial document otherwise the absence of robust evidence places them in a position where winning a dispute or mediation proceedings become near impossible. 

From a tenants perspective, it’s important that once an inventory is provided, at the start of their tenancy, they go through the inventory prior to moving their belongings in to ensure the inventory is accurate and carry out the following checks:

  • Read every detailed item within the inventory
  • Add details of anything that is missing
  • Make a note of damage that has not been detailed sufficiently enough, ensure it is photographed ideally with an accurate timestamp printed on the photo
  • Amend incorrect meter readings with photographic evidence

The process of this depends on different landords or agents, however, in our case, we will digitally present the inventory to you (if acceptable) and allow 7 days for any comments to be returned. Checking the inventory is crucial for a tenant as in most cases, if the inventory isn’t signed and returned or disputed, then it is presumed to be acceptable in the case of a dispute. For a landlord, whilst it is possible to request the inventory to be signed and returned on move-in, a tenant might argue in the case of a dispute further down the line that they weren’t given sufficient time to review the inventory and may result is a less favourable response from a TDS adjudicator.

Ultimately, an inventory is there to protect the interests of both the landlord and tenant. It’s relevant for all properties, furnished or unfurnished, and ideally should be carried out by an independent inventory clerk or agent with experience to present a well-balanced and accurate view of a property at the beginning of a tenancy.

Can we help?

As a well-established letting agency and property management company with over 25 years of experience, we are well-versed in the subject of inventories. Why not give us a call on 0145 316718 for free, no obligation advice. We would be more than happy to help.


About The Author

Everyone at Edison Ford works as a team to bring you this content however, the content is generally written by Peter and the advice included in our guides comes from our own experiences and research collectively. We hope you find our content insightful and if you have any suggestions, then please feel free to email Peter.

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