Inventory Needs To Record Condition of
All Fixtures And Fittings To Avoid Deposit Disputes
Increased demand for suitable rental properties in the UK Private Rental Sector (PRS) means there is an urgent need for landlords and tenants to develop and maintain an accurate inventory of all fixtures and fittings in order to avoid disputes over the deposit at the end of a tenancy.
According to the Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA), the upkeep of rental properties now requires increased attention due to the sharp rise in demand for rental property over recent years, highlighted in the latest English Housing Survey 2011-2012.
Figures from the survey show that the number of tenant family’s privately renting properties in the UK PRS has risen to its highest level since the 1960s with 3.8 million living in rental properties owned by private landlords.
By contrast, the number of homeowners in England has dropped to just 65% of the overall housing market, the lowest level of home ownership recorded for nearly a quarter of a century.
Ian Potter of ARLA said: “Increasingly, would-be buyers unable to get onto the housing ladder due to financial constraints are looking to the Private Rented Sector to provide long-term property renting solutions. Property deterioration during full time occupancy will only intensify as the demand for rental accommodation continues to rise. Creating an inventory that is agreed between the landlord and the tenant, and evidenced with photographs, can help to clarify situations where items get damaged, lost or stolen.
Landlords should also encourage tenants to take out Tenant Contents Insurance to protect their personal possessions while they are resident in the property, as many tenants mistakenly think they are protected by the Landlords insurance policy, only to discover that they were not covered after attempting to make a claim.
Sim Sekhon, spokesman for specialist service providers for landlord and letting agents, Legal 4 Landlords said:” The rental boom of recent years has highlighted the issue of landlord and tenant disputes regarding the depreciation of a rental property and the fixtures and fittings contained within it. Landlords need to ensure that an accurate record of the condition of the rental property is initiated at the start of a tenancy and maintained on a regular basis to monitor deterioration. The initial inventory should use photographic evidence to ensure accuracy and this is backed up with mid-term inspections conducted at regular intervals during the period of the tenancy. Issues can be highlighted and dealt with during the term of the tenancy rather than face arguments over the refund of the deposit at the end. In addition landlords and tenants should both take out insurance to protect their possessions.”
Listed below are a few tips on conducting an inventory for all UK landlords and any prospective tenants looking to move into a new rented property:
1. Clarify Responsibility For ALL Items:
Landlords should encourage new tenants to study the tenancy agreement in detail to make sure that all tenants are aware of who is responsible for the overall upkeep of the property and the items held within it. It could be that this is shared evenly between tenants in Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) or held by the lead tenant.
In cases where there is high turnover of tenants, such as in HMO’s, it is important that this is regularly clarified between the landlord or their agent and all occupants.
2. Get Signatures:
Landlords should get tenants to sign to say that they have read, understand and accept the terms of the tenancy agreement. This should also be extended to accepting the condition of all items recorded on the inventory, landlords should ask tenants to initial each page of the inventory to show that they have read each item description and are happy to accept the condition recorded.
3. Document ALL Items Within The Property:
It is important to record, in detail, the state of everything in the property prior to the tenant moving in to protect the interests of both the tenants and the landlord and this document will provide a detailed record of the original condition of all items within the property for the landlord to refer to.
The tenant should also be provided with a copy of this inspection that they can refer back to should they be asked to pay for any damages to fittings and furnishings due to accidental damage rather than normal wear and tear.
4. Be Thorough:
The most comprehensive way of doing an inventory is to list items by room so both the landlord and the tenant will have an accurate inventory of all fittings fixtures and furnishings throughout the property and their original state at the start of the tenancy.
Include the state of decoration of all walls and ceilings, number and location of all electrical outlets and switches, floor coverings, skirtings, doors, door handles, light fittings, cupboards, appliances, windows, window coverings.
5. Be Concise In Descriptions:
The aim of the inventory is to be easily accessible so that items can be sourced quickly on the list. Making an adequate description of each item and its condition is advisable, avoiding vague language, keeping it brief and factual.
Individual item; Colour; Brief Description;Condition.
6. Take Photo Evidence:
Taking images of all the fixtures, fittings and furnishings in the rental property before the tenant moves in. This can help to clarify responsibility if challenged by the agent or landlord. These should be shared and agreed with the agent and landlord and kept on file throughout the tenancy.