As a landlord; whether you are letting out your property and planning to do the inventory report yourself or hire a professional, make sure that the end report includes the following;
1- Fire and safety checks:
Not just a legal requirement, but also to have peace of mind that your property and your tenants are safe. A test result for all smoke detectors, heat sensors, sprinkler heads, and CO alarms (if you have gas appliances) should be clearly stated in a separate section of the report. In larger properties, it’s worth checking the pull stations as well.
2- Utility readings:
A good inventory (check in report or check out report) should have a section for meter readings (i.e. Gas, electricity, water, and heat meter if found). A professional inventory clerk should be able to read and provide all kinds of different meters (Flat-rate, Interval, Dial, Smart, and Solar meters).
The inventory report should provide clear photos for the meters showing the readings at the time of the inspection, the serial numbers; and the location of the meters. This makes it a great deal easier to find the meter anytime if needed. As well as having a utility cupboard key, a professional inventory clerk should have all keys that might be required for any common locked utility doors, especially in blocks and large buildings.
Examples of required keys are; Utility cupboard key, Long utility cupboard key, FB key, Long FB, T Bar Key)
3- Keys & other documents:
Upon check out, keys are one of the issues that cause confusion and sometimes lead to disputes. Imagine a landlord and a tenant are suing each other because of a set of keys, sounds funny doesn’t it; but let me tell you… it happens.
There should be a check in process after the actual inventory has been completed. This process could be 10-15 mins where the landlord, agent, or the inventory clerk escorts the tenant around the property to tick some boxes, like; if there’s any damage and if it will be fixed, check all the fire alarms with the tenants and confirm that the property is safe, electricity is safe and in working order, and that the boiler is functioning well and in working order.
Before leaving the tenants at the property, there are two important steps:
1: Hand any documents to the tenants; i.e. EPC, gas safety certificate, how to rent guide, tenancy agreement, and any other documents that should be included.
2: Test every single key & alarm with the tenants and confirm they are all working.
All the keys should be photographed and described in a separate section within the inventory report which means at the check-out inspection, it will be easy to declare if there’re missed or replaced keys.
4- Detailed description:
The word detailed can be a bit tricky, I read this description one day (Rectangular rug, 1.5 meters length, 80 cm width with light green surround and 120 squared shapes where 40 shapes are red, 40 shapes are blue, 20 shapes are green, 10 shapes are pink, and 10 shapes are turquoise)!!! That’s not detailed, that’s boring and means the inventory clerk is spending the whole day reporting the living room only and the other parties are spending the whole weekend reading the report.
The best definition for a detailed description is ‘’ a clever inventory clerk who is reporting at the check in stage while having the futuristic check out scenarios in the background’’.
A good inventory clerk will add details whilst describing appliances, it’s worth declaring exactly the brand name, colour, model number, details about the interiors, i.e.: (shelves and drawers for the fridge freezer or drawers and caddies of the dishwasher).
As important as a great description, the report also should be thorough and include every single item in the property. Some people might think; ‘’this item is old and worthless’’ let’s not add it, that’s wrong…. Huge mountains are from small rocks, and a successful property investment means every penny matters and the inventory report should be a part of a successful investment process, so it should take care of every penny.
5- Accurate condition:
That was there from the beginning, you can’t deduct money from my deposit …… I know my house, and that wasn’t there, and you have to pay for it.
The inventory report is simply about the condition before and after the tenancy. This part is the back bone of an inventory report. Here is where the inventory clerk should be very clear when describing the condition of an item and make wise usage of photographic evidence that will be attached to the report.
It is common to find some ‘’loose terms’’ in the report like -poor to fair condition- Not inspected closely- Not very good …etc. These terminologies give a vague representation and could make the inventory report useless, so to make sure you have the right report in place, note the items condition carefully and make sure it’s described in a proper way that doesn’t leave room for dispute.
Ensure you get the report signed off by the tenants, or at least they received time frame to sign otherwise the report would be deemed accepted !!!
This is a skill and you should feel it when you check the report. Some people take 1 photo for the room and that’s it. Sorry if that will shock you, but landlords have smart phones and they could’ve saved the money and took that photo themselves.
A good report will be organized from A-Z and should easily give you a clear impression about the property; through description, condition, and most importantly through photographs.
Photos should show the entire room clearly, and it’s always good to have separate photos for each item especially if the property is furnished and of course a clear photo for any damage or any condition that was previously described and the photo will be attached as a confirmation.
It’s always a better report when it shows every room’s photos separately and directly after the description; along with the condition of that room. It is not wrong to have all the photos at the end of the report, but it’s easier and more organised to have them separate.
7- Actions & Liabilities section (Check-out reports):
Check this equation: (An issue with the property - poor check out report = court).
A check out report should be concise and focuses only on things that make a difference. People follow different ways to make this report, but don’t get yourself exhausted and check only these three things to make sure you have the right report;
· The check-out report is following the original inventory and defines condition depending on what was previously noted.
· There is a summary about any defects or damages, and it should be very clear what is the item, in which room, whose responsibility.
· There is a clear photo for any damage or liability to work as a proof.
Finally, as a landlord you are paying money to get a professional inventory report that keeps your assets safe and makes a positive impact on your investment, so make sure you’re paying for the right people to get the right service. You can always contact us at Impact Inventories if you have any questions and we are more than happy to help through our many years of experience.