What is an inventory?
Inventory - Typically a list of items provided as part of the contract in a furnished property. This should list each item on a room by room basis. This could be requested at the point you are considering signing a contract so you can see what will be included but is typically not given until the tenants move in.
Is this different to a Schedule of Condition & Cleanliness?
Usually the documents are one and the same with the inventory. A Schedule of Condition & Cleanliness is the additional commentary that records the age and condition of the items listed in the inventory e.g there is four chairs but two are broken and aged with burn marks.
They are not always referred to distinctly. Therefore references to the Inventory often also mean the schedule of conditions/cleanliness.
After viewing a property ask for the inventory. If there is anything which you would like them to provide additionally or replace ask for this to be written into the contract as a special condition. Often things are agreed verbally but are not recorded and then not honoured. These are very difficult to evidence.
How should I check the Inventory and Schedule of Condition?
- Hopefully your landlord or agent will provide the Inventory/Schedule of condition & cleanliness when you commence the tenancy. Spend some time carrying out a thorough and detailed check of the property, take dated photographs on a digital camera to support anything you find and note everything on the document.
- Be as particular as commenting on the cleanliness of the inside of the microwave, or washer soap drawer, because it is likely they will be this thorough when they conduct this process when you hand the property back.
- Sign and date the completed document, witness it is you can and pass to the landlord or agent with any associated evidence including evidence that you have submitted it. KEEP A COPY!
- If your landlord does not provide you with an inventory then create your own. Download a sample version from the Shelter web site and you can adapt it as necessary for your property. Then get it signed by an independent witness and give this to your landlord/agent.
- A landlord or agent may come with you on the first day of the tenancy or on the day the first person arrives to collect the keys and try to get you to complete the inventory whist they are there with you. Some contracts even stipulate this as a requirement. However, it is advisable to spend a reasonable amount of time examining the property over a period of time as you cannot realistically look at everything in a quick glance. Giving you 7 days to complete this process is common good practice.
- If you are going to be Joint Tenants, don’t assume you just have to check your room. Discuss who is going to be moving in first and who will need to undertake this process on behalf of everyone.
Why is this necessary?
The Inventory/Schedule of Condition and cleanliness acts as a record / evidence of how the property was handed over to you and how you handed it back. You are only expected to hand the property back in the condition that you received it. If your landlord tries to keep some or all of your security deposit you may wish to dispute this either through the deposit schemes (if relevant) or through the courts. Regardless of whom is holding your deposit, it is your money and the burden of proof is on the landlord/agent to prove they are entitled to keep your money. The evidence collated may assist any adjudicator or judge into making a decision.