Importance of Rental Property Inventories

Property inventories are vital for safeguarding both tenants and landlords. Read 9 reasons why.


Inventory checks are important for both tenants and landlords because they provide a record of the rental property’s condition and contents before occupancy.  

Inventory checks can protect tenants’ security deposits by ensuring that they are only charged for damages or missing items for which they are responsible. A landlord may try to charge a tenant for damages or missing items that were already present when the tenant moved in if an inventory check is not performed.  

Inventory checks can help landlords protect their property and ensure that it is returned to them in the same condition as when it was rented out. Inventory checks can also be used by landlords to identify any wear and tear on the property that needs to be addressed before the next tenant moves in. 

What is a property inventory? 

Property Inventory Reports detail the state of the property and its contents at the time of inspection. These inspections can be performed at various intervals, such as at the start of the tenancy or before a tenant moves in (check in), during the tenancy to keep an eye on the condition and any damages caused during this period (interim or mid-term), or at the end of the tenancy when the tenant is ready to leave the property to verify any changes and any damage caused (check out).  

The most important aspect of the initial inventory inspection is the report. This describes the overall condition of the property, including the interior, flooring, walls, and ceilings. Aside from reporting on the condition and potential damage to the building’s fabric, the report also includes any fixtures and fittings that may have been included in the rental agreement. As a result, even if your property is truly unfurnished, an inventory is always recommended. A detailed photographic evidence will accompany a thorough modern inventory report. The best practise method is to have these photos timed and dated. If the dispute goes to court, this could be the best proof needed to resolve these issues.  

The purpose of the report is to provide both parties with a clear understanding of how the property has changed throughout the tenancy by having the two records on hand. The checkout report will highlight any changes or variations from the check-in report and will outline any areas that require special care. The presence of these reports reduces the likelihood of disagreements and speeds up the eviction process.  

It is critical that both parties carefully review the reports to ensure that nothing has been overlooked. This is critical for the tenant to understand during the inventory process because any damage or flaws discovered during the checkout process may fall under their jurisdiction.  

The tenant has the right to attend the inspection. Identifying errors and omissions as soon as possible allows changes to the report to be made without fear of being blamed. This can help ensure that the person conducting the check doesn’t overlook anything, but it’s still a good idea to go over the document thoroughly once it’s been compiled. 

Who conducts the inventory? 

Inventory reports and inspections can be carried out by landlords, letting agents, and independent inventory clerks. Inventory clerks should however be part of a professional organisation or accreditation body such as PropertyMark.  

On the day of the move-in, an inventory report is typically created, and both parties must sign it to acknowledge their understanding of its contents. The report’s level of detail, which might contain both written and photographic evidence, will largely rely on the property’s content. 

Landlords should be mindful that taking their own inventory could become problematic in the event of a disagreement. Protection programmes like the TDP (Tenancy Deposit Scheme) will always favour expert inventories over those made by the property owner, especially if the inventory company is overseen by a governing body.  

9 ways property inventories help both tenants and landlords 

  1. An inventory will allow both parties to accurately assess the current condition of the property. It will identify any problem areas and who is responsible for repairing them.  
  2. Having the report in hand can help tenants understand how the property should be returned to the landlord and provide instructions on how to maintain the house.  
  3. Inventory reports can distinguish between damage and normal wear and tear. Property inventories help to protect the tenant’s security deposit as well as the landlord’s financial investment.  
  4. A detailed inventory reduces the possibility of post-tenancy disagreements. Landlords can provide evidence of the condition of the property if a tenant disputes the return of their deposit by conducting regular inventory checks.  
  5. A property inventory report can help ensure that the tenant understands their responsibilities and obligations as a tenant, such as maintaining and cleaning the property. It can be used by the tenant to ensure that they are taking good care of the property and meeting their obligations as a tenant.  
  6. Regular inventory checks can assist landlords in identifying potential property issues before they become major issues. By detecting minor issues early on, this can save time and money in the long run.  
  7. Property inventory checks provide a detailed record of the items provided by the landlord for the duration of the tenancy, including any furniture and appliances included in the rental agreement. In the event of a damage dispute or missing items, this can help both the landlord and the tenant.  
  8. Landlords can provide evidence of the condition of the property if a tenant disputes the return of their deposit by conducting regular inventory checks and interim reports.  
  9. Inventory checks can assist landlords in staying on top of necessary maintenance and repairs, ensuring that the property is kept in good condition for the tenant.  

What should be inspected during an inventory check? 

An inventory report should have an overview of the entire property and a list of its contents, including details about the condition of: 

  • walls, ceilings and floors 
  • Internal Doors and door frames 
  • Paintwork, tiling and splashbacks 
  • Carpets, wooden flooring, floor tiles and vinyl flooring 
  • Curtains, railings and blinds 
  • All furniture, freestanding, fitted and built in  
  • All appliances, fixed and portable  
  • External windows and doors 
  • Lighting, plumbing and heating fixtures and fittings 
  • Any other content such as cutlery, plates etc that may be included in tenancy 
  • Presence of smoke and CO alarms  
  • Meter reading of Gas, electric and water (during check in) 
  • Evidence of keys provided (during check in) 

A tenant has the right to amend or change mistakes or highlight anything not reported 

  • Insert any details missing from the report 
  • Record any damage not highlighted in the report 
  • Inform if any items are not functioning as intended or faulty 
  • Correct any meter readings that may have been recorded incorrectly 

The tenant is required to sign and date the report once both parties are satisfied and an agreement has been reached. A copy of the report should be provided to the tenant. 

Common mistakes when compiling reports 

Here are some common mistakes people make when putting together a property inventory report:  

Not being thorough: It is critical to include all rental property items in the inventory report, even if they are minor or insignificant. Utensils, linens, and decorations are examples of such items.  

Not including detailed descriptions: Simply listing items in an inventory report is insufficient. Include detailed descriptions of each item, including its condition, age, and any flaws or damages.  

excluding photos: Photos  can be extremely useful in supplementing the information in the inventory report. They can provide visual evidence of the property’s condition and contents. Photos should ideally be timed and dated. 

Not keeping the original report: It is critical to retain the original inventory report in a secure location. This can be useful if there is a disagreement about damages or missing items at the end of the tenancy.  

Not thoroughly reviewing the report before signing: It is critical that both the landlord and the tenant thoroughly review the inventory report before signing it. This ensures that both parties are on the same page regarding the condition of the property and its contents at the start of the tenancy.  

Not updating the report: If any changes are made to the property or its contents during the tenancy, the inventory report must be updated accordingly. This includes adding new items as well as identifying any damages or repairs. 

What is a fair tenant deposit deduction? 

Breakages and damages caused by the tenant living in the property during the tenancy may be deducted from the deposit by the landlord.  

General wear and tear to the property should not be deducted from the deposit depending on the length of the tenancy or occupancy. A tenant has the right to contest any deductions, and if they cannot be resolved, they can be challenged in court. 

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, property inventory checks are an important tool for both tenants and landlords. They provide a clear and fair process for determining any damages or missing items at the end of a tenancy and help to protect both the tenant’s security deposit and the landlord’s property.  

It is important for both parties to take the inventory process seriously and complete it thoroughly in order to ensure a smooth transition at the end of the tenancy. We have been carrying out property inventory checks to the highest standards for more than 10 years and a significant number of our detailed reports have been used to settle disputes in court. Contact us to find out how we can assist with your property. 


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