The property inventory … a landlord’s minefield

Property inventories are an essential part of the tenancy administration process. I don’t believe that anyone particularly enjoys doing them, but if you (or your staff or agent) are going to go to effort of producing a property inventory for your rented property, it’s

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essential that you get it right. An inventory is one of those documents that you hope to never have to use in anger, but on the rare occasion that you need it, it must be correct and stand up as evidence put to a Court if required.

We speak to a large number of landlords and letting agents every week, and the standards and practices associated with inventories are very varied to say the least. What is it that we are trying to achieve with an inventory? As a baseline, you should be seeking to use a property inventory to:

  • Establish the internal and external physical condition of any property; and
  • For furnished properties, the quantity and condition of all furniture and chattels; and
  • At a specific time, namely the commencement of the tenancy; and
  • At a specific location, the property that you are renting; and
  • By a specific person, you or an appointed agent; and
  • Have the property inventory agreed by all parties

Sounds simple, but it often fails in execution. If your inventory is required to be used as evidence at a Court hearing, you are going to need to be able to prove on balance of probability (in civil cases the burden of proof is essentially that the Judge must believe that what you are submitting is more probably true and untrue) that:

  • The inventory represents a true reflection of the state of the property;
  • At the time that the tenancy commenced;
  • No alterations have been made;
  • The tenants agreed that the inventory was a true reflection

We have seen some interesting interpretations of how to achieve this, none of which assist you if you end up in Court, including:

  • Signing the back of photographs;
  • Putting that day’s newspaper in a photograph;
  • Keeping digital camera cards for the duration of the tennacy

The validity of property inventories was a key concern for us when developing OnBoard Pro, which is why we spent 6 months engaging with letting agents, landlords, industry bodies and lawyers to formulate a watertight and legally valid solution that:

  • Takes, stores and records secure photographs;
  • Physically overprints a unique code that shows to the court: location, time, property reference and the individual who conducted the inventory;
  • Digitally watermarks the photographs so that they cannot be modified once taken;
  • Adds all inventory information to the tenancy information pack, sent to all parties;
  • Ensures that tenants expressly declare the inventory as accurate and correct

The effort we have gone to is important. It’s important that when it matters, your property inventory stands up and protects you against financial loss from damage by tenants.

If your inventory system isn’t working for you, or you’re paying a large sum for an outsourced service, get in touch with us today on 08452 26 26 06 or and find out how you can start conducting legally binding inventories in 15 minutes (by yourself or by an agent you appoint) using an iOS or Android tablet device.

We’re passionate about improving the Private Rented Sector and to making landlords, letting agents and tenants experiences better and more efficient.

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