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A rental property inventory can be a valuable document for landlords, but what should it include, and how can you put yours into practice?
Read our checklist of the things you need to do to put together a comprehensive inventory that works for you and your tenants, plus download our free inventory template for landlords.
Your rental inventory gives full details of the condition of your property and its contents, at the start of any new tenancy. It’s also known as the ‘check-in’ and ‘schedule of condition’.
At the end of the tenancy, you can use the inventory to check the condition of the property and make any relevant deductions (for damage or lost items) from the renter’s deposit.
Having a property inventory reduces the chance of a deposit dispute as it provides a clear record of the property’s condition at the start and end of a tenancy contract.
Without one, it can be hard to prove that the condition of the property has changed, which could make it more difficult to make deposit deductions or win a deposit dispute.
Your landlord inventory should be designed as a form, with pictures of your property and contents to help you and your tenants monitor any changes.
Make sure you’re taking any pictures before the tenants move in, and again at the end of their tenancy, so you can make an easy comparison of any deterioration or damage.
The more information included on a property inventory, the easier the check-out process and agreeing any deposit deductions will be.
By using an editable inventory template, you can make sure all the key areas of the property are covered and as much information as possible is recorded.
Download your free inventory template that you can edit yourself.Download
Here’s how you can complete a successful inventory in eight steps:
Your inventory will be a full list of the property’s contents, and should also note the condition of the property itself. You’ll want to include all ‘fixed’ features, from walls and ceilings to cupboards and doors.
Once these are listed, take time to check the state your paintwork, wallpaper, or carpet are in, and any appliances or fittings.
It’s easy to take something like a floor covering for granted, but if it comes with your property, it needs to be included.
Once these less obvious things are ticked off, you can add things like furniture, garden features, garages, and sheds.
If you’ve decided to go for a paid service (see below), your property inventory clerk will take you through their template, and how it works.
Doing it yourself can be very straightforward – you just need to make sure you’re completing the inventory on or just before your new tenant's move-in date (when the property is completely ready), with your tenant present.
This will need to be before they move in their own belongings, or use anything in your property.
Read our pre-tenancy checklist for an overview of what you need to do before a tenant moves in.
Mark any issues upfront on your inventory template along with the condition of specific items or features, such as:
Photo and video evidence can be very useful here, to help you make direct comparisons.
Once your inventory is complete and your tenant is up-to-speed, it’ll need to be signed off by you both. Make sure your tenant has a copy to refer back to.
Regular inspections are an important part of managing a property. Read our guide to inspections and download our free property inspection checklist.
Try to book time in your diary to check your property every three to six months and remember your tenant has a right to 24 hours’ notice before you visit.
Anything you spot is worth discussing with tenants at the time. Not only does this stop any issues from escalating but it can make the end of tenancy process much smoother.
There’s a difference between damage and wear and tear, so make sure your original inventory gives clear details of the condition your property and contents were in, before the tenancy started.
Examples of wear and tear could include:
Examples of damage could include:
Tenants can’t be held responsible for ‘fair wear and tear’, so be realistic when it comes to your rental property inventory, inspections, and any deposit deductions you make as a result of them.
If you and your tenant agree that damage has occured, you can draw up estimates for repairs and replacements. Let your tenant know the costs, and update your tenancy deposit scheme so that deductions can be applied.
If the damage is substantial and the deposit doesn’t cover it, you’ll need to invoice your tenant for the outstanding amount, and agree on a payment schedule.
Can’t agree on the damages? Make sure your original inventory reflects the condition of your property in good detail, with photos and videos to supplement your case. This will be very important when you begin any tenant dispute proceedings.
This should happen on the day your tenants move out, acting as a final inspection of your property and contents.
Make sure your tenant has their copy of the original inventory handy, and cross-reference any notes and changes.
Your tenant should be present for the final inspection, and their possessions should already be moved out of the property.
Read our end of tenancy checklist for more tips on what you need to do.
If you’re not comfortable completing the inventory yourself, you can hire an independent inventory clerk to help you carry out and document the inventory check.
A letting agency or management company may also offer this service, but remember, it will always be at an extra or factored-in cost.
Hiring a professional can save time and issues, as well as giving you some distance from the tenant, if you’d prefer. Costs will depend on your property, how big it is, and any special features.
If the tenancy comes to an end and you fall into disagreement with your tenant, the initial and final reports from your inventory clerk will be key pieces of evidence. So if you’re worried about disputes and getting things resolved quickly, hiring somebody could pay off.
What are your tips for completing a rental property inventory? Let us know in the comments below.
Conor Shilling is a Copywriter at Simply Business with over two years’ experience in the insurance industry. A trained journalist, Conor has worked as a professional writer for 10 years. His previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor specialises in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.
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