Do Tenants Have to Sign Inventories?
This is one of those questions where there isn't a straight forward answer. I've put together a short blog to give you my take on this.
You will mostly come across the Check-in and Check-out Inventories, although there are others - we will concentrate on those two for now.
As with many things, it all depends on which side of the fence you are sitting, if you are a Landlord or if you are a Tenant and the benefits and pitfalls for both. So, let's take a look at the Landlord viewpoint.
Most landlords will have invested much time and money on their rental property and even if they haven't, as in the case of inheritance properties, their loved ones probably have. So, looking after that investment seems only sensible. After all, you are handing over all of that time and money in one fail swoop with the issuing of the keys to your new tenant. I am, therefore, always baffled when Landlords just don't bother with an inventory at all. I can only assume it's to do with the perceived cost of getting one done. Most Agents will have an Inventory service and it's well worth looking at what they offer. Landlord Fees
Assuming that you have spent say £75.00 on your professional Check-in Inventory, this pales into insignificance at the end of your tenancy, or even during it, if there are any problems. The alternative just doesn't bare thinking about.
It is so very common for Landlords to come unstuck with tenants who are well aware that the Landlord has not bothered providing an adequate inventory. When we have taken over tenancies with existing tenants where adequate Inventories have not been provided, more often than not, these are the very properties where we have issues. The tenants know that the Landlord is going to have a hard time proving the condition of anything. Just how will you be able to make a claim from any deposit if you have insufficient or no evidence of the condition of your property when you handed over the keys?
I have alluded to the issue of having a poor or inadequate Inventory, and whilst it's better than having none, it most likely is of no practical use what so ever. I have been advised by Landlords in the past that they don’t need to book an Inventory as they always do their own. That sounds perfect, doesn’t it? In reality, it is usually a nightmare waiting to happen. The Inventories are often poor, have not been issued prior to the handing over of keys, and have too little detail to be of any practical use in the likelihood of an issue occurring. The cost to the Landlord in my experience tends to run into hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds. This, in my opinion, does not make good business sense. I would, therefore, strongly recommend that you have a professional Inventory prior to handing over keys to your new tenant, every single time.
And "YES" do get your new tenant to sign it before handing over any keys. Always give them an opportunity to check it out and highlight anything that they feel is incorrect. The aim here is that you are both confident that the Inventory is a true reflection of the condition of the property at either the start or the end of the tenancy.
When Norman Galloway Lettings carry out a check-in Inventory, and it is signed by the tenant, the check-out Inventory can be compared to the original and all issues can be evidenced. This is the perfect starting point for negotiations with the tenant in addressing/obtaining compensation for any damage caused. Usually, this will be via the deposit scheme where the deposit has been protected.
If you are a tenant, I would strongly recommend that you ask for an Inventory prior to taking over any tenancy. Visit the property with the Inventory and check every inch to ensure that you are fully confident that any/all existing issues have been recorded.
If your Landlord/Agent is not with you at the time, take a photo of each issue, describe the issue and email it to them straight away. All good Agents/Landlords will update the inventory accordingly. Check that they have done this. Get it confirmed - Ink on Paper always.
Students are a group that is always of concern to me. Not all have parents to go along and check things out and nor do all students want that. Being a mum of a student myself, I have seen first-hand how things can go adrift here.
Whilst frog-marching my unenthusiastic teen around his brand-new Uni Halls (literally - brand new) I was concerned to find so much wrong with it. Even worse, a couple of the other parents questioned me on what I was doing and why was I bothering. After trying my best to 'educate them' on the virtues of due diligence, it was clear that I was on my own with this one. Never the less, I persevered, and my unenthusiastic teen emailed his/our list with photos to the Accommodation Provider expressing the need to amend his inventory. This was done - for him.
Fast forward to the end of his time in the Halls. Many issues were identified by the Accommodation Provider and deposits were at risk - in their entirety.
Once again, my more enthusiastic teen was not so much frog-marched but assisted in checking out every single issue identified by the Accommodation Provider. Fortunately, most, not quite all issues- were evidenced away. (After all, we are talking students here).
Fast forward a few more years, that same teen, now in his mid-twenties, inspects any new property that he is renting with the precision and attention to detail usually only afforded to surgeons. Proud Mother Moment!
So in conclusion - Absolutely sign your Inventory - but only when it accurately reflects the condition of your new home.