Inventories – notes which describe the condition of each room of a property
Either on the first day you move into a new property, or upto a couple of days before (only after the previous tenant has left) you will need to go through an ‘inventory check.’ This is a thorough walk through of the property to ensure you note down all the defects in the property. Major damage, minor damage, scratches, stains – everything should be noted in as much detail as possible.
When you leave the property another inventory check will be conducted. Any damage which has occurred (beyond reasonable wear and tear) while you have been in the property will be charged to you and deducted from your deposit. So it is very important you aren’t blamed for something the previous tenant had done. The only way to ensure this is to pay attention while the inventory is being conducted and make your own thorough checks.
Inventory checks will be carried out by the Landlord, their managing agent (often part of the Letting Agent) or an independent Inventory checker. You should always be present for the check. If you cannot make it you must send someone you trust who has an eye for detail. Walk through the property and acknowledge any notes the person carrying out the check points out. Double check each room as you walk through with them, including ceilings, walls and floors (get down and look closely.. wooden floors often have heel marks or scratches not visible while standing up).
Check the property throughout to see if the window locks are adequate. If some are loose or ill fitting have the landlord correct or replace them. Any windows without locks should be fitted with them immediately.
I would always advise taking your own note pad and writing down exactly what the inventory person is writing down – sometimes their notes mysteriously miss out one or two key items when typed up. You won’t remember every item from memory, so best to have your own notes.
Special tip: Ensure the inventory checker tests smoke alarms with you and checks carbon monoxide detectors. If they are not in all the locations they should be, request they are added immediately. Information on where these devices should be situated in a property is here.
Special tip: Aswell as making your own notes, use a digital camera to photograph all the defects you can see, including the ones the inventory checker is making a note of. Keep these picture safe, they are great as evidence when moving out, if there is any dispute with the landlord.
Once the inventory is complete, ask the person checking with you to hold on for 10minutes, while you go back through each room and check again yourself. Without someone by your side, you often notice more. Make a note of anything new you have found, even if they seem trivial (like scratches on a wall, or a cracking windowsill) and then ask the inventory checker to come back through each room with you and make a note of your additional points.
A copy of the inventory will be sent to you a few days after the check was carried out, so you can agree with the notes and sign a copy. Make sure you keep a copy for yourself. Before signing and returning the inventory, check the details match your own notes and walk back through the property and ensure you haven’t spotted anything new. Anything new or missing should be added to the inventory before it is returned to the landlord or agent. They then need to sign to acknowledge changes or additions and return to you a final copy that has all the notes on it.