Why is an inventory and schedule of condition so important?
An inventory is a listing of all the contents of a property and a record of the condition of the property. It can also be referred to as a “schedule of condition”. The form is designed to help monitor the condition of the property and items before a tenant moves in and just before a tenant vacates, so it can be made clear what damages, if any, need to be paid for out of the deposit. This small but important step is often left out by landlords and tenants but it can potentially prevent a lot of disputes later down the line.
Inventories are prepared either by the landlord, letting agent or an independent inventory clerk. We, here at Gordon Barker, choose to use an independent inventory clerk to ensure full transparency and equality for both the landlord and tenant if there are any disputes regarding the inventory itself later down the line. The inventory contains photographic or video evidence of property along with a lengthy description of the overall condition of the property along with all contents that are provided, such as white goods.
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Another good option for the landlord to take is to ensure there are regular property inspections every few months. This, again, helps safeguard the inventory and allows any potential problems with the property not to have got out of hand and left unattended for too long where it could potentially cost a lot more to put right.
When a tenancy comes to an end there should be a final check out report done before any monies are handed back to the tenants. This is vitally important as this is the last chance to make sure the property is in the same condition, minus the expected wear and tear, as to when the tenant first moved in. If there are any disputes concerning the original inventory compared with the check-out report, then an independent quote would be used to confirm how much it would be to get the property back up to standards. The monies for this job would be deducted from the tenant’s deposit. If it costs more than the entirety of the deposit then the tenant would be required to pay the remaining sum of money.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement to which items have been damaged, the severity of the damage, the repair of the replacement costs etc. then the following should be done:
- Record the state and condition with photographs
- Obtain estimates of repair or replacement costs
- Inform tenant/ landlord in writing
All disputes will be handled by an independent and free Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service provided by the scheme the deposit is secured with, which will aim to resolve any disputes quickly and without the need for court action.
Each scheme will contain an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service, so both tenant and landlord will need to contact the appointed scheme. If both landlord and tenant agree to use the service, they will have to agree to accept its decision and will not be able to apply to the courts. If the tenant or the landlord do not agree to use the Tenancy Deposit Scheme service then the dispute will usually go to the county court.
Feel free to send us an email or phone us directly on 01202 292400 to discuss all your property requirements.