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How to take an inventory

Why might I need an inventory?

A detailed inventory means you can clearly evidence the condition of your property and contents before tenants move in - and show the extent of any damage during their tenancy. That’s particularly useful if you need to make a claim on your insurance, or if you need to retain any of the deposit in your Tenant Deposit Scheme. (Find out more in our Simple guide to Tenant Deposit Schemes). 

As the Residential Landlords Association states: “It is common for a tenant to claim that the damage already existed when the tenancy started. Unless you have proof of the state of the furniture/property at the beginning in the form of a properly prepared and agreed inventory/condition schedule you are unlikely to succeed.”

Having an inventory tick list to go through is also a great way for you to conduct quick and easy inspections.  

What is an inventory?

An inventory should of course be a bit more than just a list of items. It also needs to spell out the condition of everything in the property, backed up by dated photographs or even video clips (nice and easy with a smartphone). It’s why some people call this a ‘statement of condition’ document.

It’s vital to take time to put this together properly at the start of the tenancy. Not only that, you should ask the tenant to go through the document – and any supporting material you may have – and sign to say they agree that this was the condition of the property when they came into it.

It’s also important to keep a thorough record of any work carried out to the property or replacement items that you have had to purchase during the tenancy, with receipts, photos and dates. 

You can ask an expert to do this for you – and pay in the region of £100 to £150 – or you can attempt to do this yourself. If that’s the case, you need to consider the following.

What do I need to think about? 

Here’s our list of what you need to think about on your inventory document. 

1. Utilities

Before you go through the rooms, you need to address the utilities. Consider each of the following:

  • Gas
  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Telephone
  • Internet

For each of those, describe the service provider, any contact details and information about any instruction manuals.

2. Security

Next, you need to list off:

  • Keys
  • Window locks
  • Burglar alarm

This should include operational details for the alarm and any instruction manuals that have been provided.

3. Outside

The next step is to look at the outside of your property and note the condition of the building and surround areas. Don’t forget to include - 

  • Garden - and any furniture thaat it might include
  • Shed - and any contents

4. Inside - Room-by-room

Now it's time for each room. Make sure you cover every item in every room, including halls, stairs, airing cupboards and inbuilt wardrobes. It might seem daunting but it really isn’t once you get going. This is where your pictures and video should come in handy.

Here’s what to look out for:

Living room

  • Sofa
  • Chair
  • Carpet
  • Curtains
  • Light bulbs and fittings
  • Coffee table
  • Bookcase
  • Paint/wallpaper
  • Fires/heating
  • Smoke alarm
  • Electricals

Kitchen

  • Refrigerator
  • Freezer
  • Washing machine
  • Dishwasher
  • Cooker
  • Hob
  • Microwave
  • Toaster
  • Kettle
  • Sink
  • Cutlery – outlining all items 
  • Crockery – again, detailing each item
  • Cupboards
  • Paint/wallpaper
  • Light bulbs/fittings
  • Bins
  • Smoke alarm
  • Heating
  • Boiler
  • Electrical sockets
  • Flooring

For each bedroom

  • Bed
  • Any bedding
  • Bedside table
  • Mirror
  • Light bulbs/fittings
  • Heating
  • Smoke alarm
  • Wardrobe
  • Paint/wallpaper
  • Flooring

Bathroom

  • Toilet
  • Bath
  • Sink
  • Shower
  • Extractor fan
  • Flooring
  • Shower curtain
  • Bin
  • Mirror

Other considerations

Other things to include in your inventory:

The key advice is that it’s better to have too much information than not enough. Make a note of as much as you can, take plenty of pictures and make sure you have the best possible record of the property on the day you invite a new tenant in.

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