No matter whether you’re an experienced landlord or new to the world of buy-to-let, your inventory will always be one of the single most important documents you or an inventory company put together for your property.
When it’s done properly, an inventory has the potential to protect you from an unpleasant surprise after your tenants move out. It can protect your investment, and save you from a potential deposit dispute.
That’s not to say it’s easy though. If you decide to create an inventory for your property it can be a pain-staking, time consuming process.
We’ve identified three common idioms that could help you, so try bearing these in mind next time you’re doing an inventory.
Leave no stone unturned…
This first point may seem obvious, but it’s impossible to overstate how important it is. A thorough approach is perhaps the most important factor in a successful, and useful, inventory.
While the immediately obvious is often the thing most likely to be damaged by a tenant, be that the carpet, the bathtub or the skirting boards, just because it’s hard to reach or out of sight doesn’t mean it’s in a good state.
The above is particularly true of furnished properties. While a piece of furniture might be where you expect it to be, that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been moved around during the tenancy, and then found its way back to where it started. Always check behind or underneath, otherwise unseen damage could go undiscovered.
Always make sure you go further than just a visual check of your property. A few practical checks to bear in mind:
Plug sockets – Make sure they work, and that there are no loose connections
Windows – Check for mould, and also make sure all the locks are still in working order
Plumbing – Check the toilets flush, the sinks drain etc
A picture paints a thousand words…
If you do find anything untoward that will need to be recorded before new tenants move in, then a photograph can avoid any debate over the state of an already marked or damaged area in the future.
While writing that something is marked or damaged is potentially open to interpretation, a photograph will allow you to explicitly record the exact condition of the item in question, and to determine, without debate, whether or not the issue has been exacerbated by the next client.
For example, a small stain on the carpet might look bigger than you remember, but without pictorial evidence it would be difficult to prove. If the issue has gone from minor to major, let’s say half a glass of wine has been spilt on top of, or near, a smaller stain that already existed, then you don’t want to be second guessing yourself as to whether that has in fact changed.
Finally, be sure to date and sign your photographs to prevent any debate as to when these photographs were taken. And be sure to include them for the tenant to see when you come to our final point.
Sign on the dotted line…
For your inventory to hold weight then it is obviously vital that you sign and date the document. Equally important, however, is that you ensure your tenant also signs.
Including all the information, such as any existing problems with the property alongside the aforementioned photographs, means that you and your tenant can both check over the document, agree to what you’ve found, and then, by signing, legally confirm that you both accept the information that is contained within.
Additionally, by making sure your tenant signs the inventory, you can be sure they’ve seen and confirmed what you consider to be the state of the property as it stands. Then, hopefully, they will remember this when it is time for them to move out.
Here at mydeposits, we know how important your inventory is and we want to make sure you can complete it as easily as possible. Hopefully the three easy to remember points above will help you to keep you on the right track.
If you feel you want to know more about inventories and best practices in this area, then we have created a guide to help you.
It’s available free here, and we’re confident it will further help you with performing an inventory in the future.