When you are a tenant and about to move into a new property one of the most important documents is the inventory that you will be given. This is important to you because it can determine whether or not you will get your full deposit back when you move out of the property again, or whether you may only get part of it.
The inventory is an in-depth report on the condition of the rental property and its’ contents, if any, at the start of the tenancy. An inventory report will be created for all types of property, even if unfurnished. This is because there could be some scratched paintwork on a door or there might be a chip on the handbasin, or perhaps a mark on a carpet. The inventory describes everything in each room, and also includes, or should include, the outside, if there is a garden. So it will include guttering and downpipes, fencing, walls, the garden gate, the garage, and so on.
The inventory report is often created by the landlord’s letting agent, if there is one, or sometimes the landlord himself. It may also be created by an inventory clerk whose job is taking inventory for a fee which he will charge to the landlord or letting agent. The report will also include such things as meter readings, and ideally should also include photographs of any faults, whatever they may be. This is important to you because if there is a stain on the carpet and there is a photograph of it, or at least a written record, the landlord cannot then claim when it is time for you to move out that it was your fault and that therefore you should pay for cleaning it, or even replacing the carpet. Landlords are sometimes unscrupulous and may “try it on” so the inventory is in your own interests as well as those of the landlord.
The inventory is important because it is, or should be, a detailed account of what everything looked like before you moved in. Without the inventory you have no proof of what condition everything was in before you moved in. That means that the landlord could claim that you caused damage for which you were not responsible and ask you to pay for repairs or cleaning out of your deposit.
Sometimes the letting agent, landlord, or inventory clerk may ask you to attend the premises for the inventory, and this is the best way forward, because you will be on the spot and you can both agree on something before the report is written up. If you are not invited, you could ask if you can attend and there should be no problem about this. If you cannot be there, you will be given a copy of the report on, or just before, the day that you move in. You will then be given a short period of time – a few days or a week – in order to make any comments or dispute anything in the report, particularly anything that was missing.
It is very important that you take the time to go through the property room by room and check everything carefully. So, for instance, if there is a stain on the carpet in the bedroom and it is missing from the inventory, you will need to make a note of it and take it up with the landlord or letting agent. You need to be very thorough, and you may like to take some photographs yourself.
You might find that there is a mark on the door that has been missed, or that a window doesn’t open properly. You are perfectly entitled to update the inventory with any comments. There may also be something which has been missed such as a table lamp or a footstool: if this is the case then add them in so that everything matches up when you move out. Only sign the inventory when you are happy that everything is in order. You might also ask the landlord or the letting agent to countersign any alterations that you have made to the inventory. Providing photographs at this stage will help your case.