Why Make a Property Inventory?

Dirty ovenOne of the best ways to begin to understand the value of an inventory is to consider a situation which lacks one...

Sue goes to inspect her property after tenant Henry has moved out at the end of his tenancy.  Henry's deposit has been held in a tenancy deposit protection scheme since he moved in eighteen months ago. He is looking forward to the return of his deposit as soon as possible.

However, Sue finds the kitchen in a "disgusting" state, with all the surfaces needing cleaned, especially the oven. Elsewhere in the house, paintwork is chipped and scraped, some of the light bulbs are no longer working, there is a large stain on the hallway carpet, and the garden is very overgrown.

A DISPUTE BEGINS

Sue wishes to keep the entire deposit to clean and repair the property. Henry argues that the property was "like that when he moved in".  Sue points out that she tidied the whole property herself, so knows very well that it was clean and in good repair. Also the oven was brand new and she still has the receipt.  Unfortunately, there was never any inventory produced before the tenancy began. Sue did not arrange one since it had seemed like an unnecessary expense to pay for an inventory clerk especially since Henry seemed nice & friendly when he viewed the property. Apart from the oven, there was no furniture at all provided for the tenant - the property was in her view "completely empty".

PROOF - OR LACK OF IT

The dispute is taken to one of the adjudicators linked to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Evidence is requested... including an inventory, to prove that the property changed substantially for the worse since the tenant moved in.  Due to the lack of proof, the judgment of the adjudicator does not support Sue's claim for the whole deposit, instead allowing only a portion for the cleaning of the oven, since Sue has the receipt to prove it was bought new for the tenancy.

LESSON LEARNT

If Sue had used a Professional Inventory Clerk she would have been able to prove without doubt the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy.  The adjudicator would have been able to see this through both written & photographic evidence.  She would awarded costs towards cleaning and tidying up the garden instead of paying for it all herself.

Even though a property is let as "unfurnished", there are numerous fixed items which need monitoring, from walls to windows and not forgetting the garden.

When the end of the tenancy comes round, the property inventory is used for the check out inspection. It is a systematic way to list all the changes which have happened, so that it can then be decided whether these changes are the responsibility of tenant or landlord.

Story courtesy of Inventory Clerk Training Centre