The importance of inventories cannot be underestimated now that the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme is in force.
Inventories will be critical in establishing the facts behind any
landlord and tenant dispute; without clear proof of loss or damage,
landlords risk facing a situation where all the deposit money will be
returned to the tenant by the Independent Case Examiner.
and from the Residential Landlords Association:-
Is an Inventory Compulsory?
Tenancy deposit protection
does not make inventories compulsory. However, in practice, they are
essential. Not only will you need an inventory in the sense of a list
of items included in the tenancy (e.g. beds, curtains etc) but the
inventory will have to record any damage/the condition of each
item. Any existing defects at the beginning of the tenancy will need to
be set out.
If your deposit is intended to cover damage
to the property itself you will also need a condition schedule. Again,
this will need to record any damage which exists when the tenancy
If an item of furniture is new or if the
property has been recently internally decorated this will need to be
recorded in your conditions schedule. You will need to take a full
photographic record (e.g. with a digital camera or camcorder).
When and How to take an Inventory
will need to take an inventory/condition schedule both at the start of
the tenancy and when the tenancy ends. You will need to make sure that
at the beginning of the tenancy the tenant(s) signs off the
You must make sure that
you check it carefully before they sign. Any photographs should be
dated. For example you can always hold up a newspaper showing the date
when you take one of the photographs.
It may not always
be possible to get the tenant to check out the inventory/condition
schedule at the end of the tenancy but try to do so wherever possible.
Where available consider employing an inventory clerk to prepare these inventories/condition schedule.
What happens when you don't have an Inventory?
have been a number of decisions by adjudicators under existing
voluntary schemes which show that unless you follow these rules there
is little or not chance of you recovering anything out of the deposit
for damage. In any case, you must remember that a deposit will not
cover fair wear and tear.
Likewise, decisions by
District Judge in County Court small claims have also shown that unless
you follow these procedures exactly, it is unlikely that you will be
awarded any part of the deposit to make good any damage.
is common for a tenant to claim that the damage already existed when
the tenancy started. Unless you have proof of the state of the
furniture/property at the beginning in the form of a properly prepared
and agreed inventory/condition schedule you are unlikely to succeed.
What other evidence will the landlord need?
following the end of the tenancy you have to make good any damage you
will need to have proper receipts/estimates/invoices. You should
obtain at least two estimates for the cost of making good the damage;
otherwise the tenant can challenge the cost.
If you want
to claim the cost of damage to an item of furniture, you should retain
proof of purchase to show the cost at the time of purchase.
must make sure that you carefully preserve all of these records. The
tip is to keep a proper tenancy file containing all of this
Please contact Northern Inventory Services via our contact page