A professionally inventory and schedule of condition will protect you from any unwarranted disputes by the tenant at the end of the tenancy. If there is an insufficient, outdated or even worse no inventory then you will have no evidence of what the property was like at the start of the tenancy. This means that if you or the agents are unable to provide documentary evidence that the tenant caused damage, then you will not be in a strong position to make a claim, in the event the tenant contests the matter.
No. However the landlord will be unable to prove damage to a property without an inventory if the matter was disputed. Cases are now being processed where the landlord is failing to get any compensation where the evidence is insufficient. Why not save money and do it yourself?
Compiling an inventory and schedule of condition is a skill and should be carried out by someone qualified to do so. The inventory is an important document and one that may need to be relied upon as evidence in the event of a dispute and may be liable to the scrutiny of a Court of Law. The inventory is not just a list of items placed in or on the premises; a proper inventory will include a schedule of condition of the property itself as well as the fixtures, fittings and contents along with photographs. A professionally qualified inventory provider is also likely to be deemed to be impartial and will note the property in the condition in which it is found both at the start and end of the tenancy.
It is considered that the landlord is likely to be more biased when drafting an inventory on their own property. However if it was as detailed as a professional inventory and had been agreed by the tenant at the time of the check in it would stand as evidence subject to the tenant confirming acceptance at the check-out. Again clarity would be key to this exercise. It is important that the tenant has fair opportunity to make relevant response to the condition of items at both the start and finish of the tenancy and that every effort is made to reach agreement between the parties and thus the clarity of the document.
Ask your agent about the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks [AIIC]. You are entitled to find out who is going to be documenting the details of your property. Ask your agent for details of the inventory provider's qualifications and experience. An inventory provider who is a member of the AIIC will have gone through training and passed an assessment based on their competency to conduct the inventory compilation, check in and check out. The candidate must also provide evidence of at least 6 months hands on experience of the role. For your further protection members are required to have adequate, up to date public liability and professional indemnity insurance. This demonstration of the level of competency required by the industry is aimed to give the landlord the confidence that they have the protection of professional documentation to support any claim in the event of a dispute.
The inventory should be drawn up from scratch when an agent first takes on the property. Thereafter it should be properly updated and printed out at the start of each new tenancy. Each new tenancy should have an inventory that is unencumbered by comments relating to previous tenancies at the same property.
Photographs are useful to give examples of the overall condition of a property however they cannot replace the written inventory. A photograph of damage at the end of the tenancy will be considered but unless there was a photograph of the same item at the start it cannot be completely relied upon because digital photographs unless dated which would prove it was from the start of the tenancy can be altered.
If a photograph was attempting to identify a stain on a carpet for example, it would add meaning to place an everyday item adjacent to indicate the size of the stain. Best practice would be to have any photographs dated as a sign of acceptance.