Professional Vs DIY Inventories: Which should you choose
The In's and Out's of an Inventory
An Inventory is a document produced to details the in's and out's of the contents of a property. The most common comment I receive to this is "my property is unfurnished, why do I need an Inventory?" The Inventory to will include conditions of walls, flooring, light fixtures, kitchen units, appliances and bathroom suite right down to the minor detail of the property such as door handles, curtain poles, blinds etc. This document is to cover the landlord and tenant, it isn't solely to benefit one party. An Inventory is usually 30 plus pages and a photo file, so don’t panic if you feel you have a small book to read, it doesn’t mean your property is dirty or has issues, they just contain a lot of detail.
Is a professional Inventory a necessary expense?
Personally I think a professional Inventory by a third party Inventory clerk is worth every penny. I’m not by all means saying every Inventory Clerk is spot on 100% of the time; that would be impossible. They are human and errors will occur, this is their job and they are trained in what to look for and how to word a report for case examiners to interoperate if a deposit dispute was sent to the alternative dispute resolution.
I have always found using an independent third party Inventory Clerk is helpful when there is a dispute over a landlords claim from the tenant’s deposit. To be able to say to a tenant the Inventory Clerk is unbiased and has no monetary gain from putting cleaning, damages, stains on a Check Out report does give you some trust back you aren’t ripping them off!
For those landlords who wish to do the Inventory themselves I do try to discourage and give them the reasons why an independent third party Inventory Clerk is a good idea. As a landlord you have an invested interest for the Inventory to state the property has been professionally cleaned, redecorated throughout, new carpets when in fact those things may not be 100% factual.
What issues can arise with DIY Inventories
Lack of detail
Lack of 'know-how'
Room for disagreement or biased comments
Opportunity to not include old damage
Tips for a DIY Inventory
The more descriptive words you can use the better to give an adjudicator the complete understanding
Back up with clear, date stamped photos
Clarity - create an easy flowing and easy reading report
Allow plenty of time for the Inventory to be completed - if you think this will take 10 minutes the Inventory won't be a concise report with accurate details
Benefits of hiring a third party Inventory Clerk
Upon Check In the Inventory Clerk will go through the report with the in going tenant and get them to sign to say they agree to the contents
They are experts in this area
The have a lack of understanding for fair wear and tear
The can help prevent disputes arising
They provide a safety net - they are trained/used to look for the smallest of details
Most tenants don’t have time to sit down and go through a 30 plus page document just after moving house to make sure that every minor detail is listed, they trust the report has been created in good faith. Therefore having an independent third party Inventory Clerk creating the report stops the agent or landlord from having contents in the report to favour them and exploit the fact most tenants don’t read this document until Check Out when it’s too late!
I know some agents where their employed staff carry out the Inventories, Check In’s and Check Out’s. I don’t agree with this method as the idea of an Inventory Clerk is to be impartial to the agent, tenant and landlord. If the agent is carrying out the Inventory they are employed by the Landlord and could, I am not saying agents do this as I’m sure they don’t, leave off some damage, marks or a stain to the carpet and penalise the outgoing tenant for something that was present when they moved in to benefit the landlord. The agent may have a contractors commission set up whereby if a job is done by a contractor the agent will benefit from 5-10% of the bill, therefore the agent has a monetary incentive for works to be needed either being paid for from the tenants deposit or the landlord.
So to summarise the reasons why I use an independent third party inventory clerk is:
· No monetary gain to the reports contents
· Use language a dispute resolution centre will look for in a dispute
· Can help to justify a landlord claim for a deposit deduction
Remember to always thoroughly check the Inventory and make sure you are happy with its contents and let the agent know if you aren’t so they can deal with it accordingly. At the point of Check Out is too late to raise a discrepancy!
I hope this post has been helpful. If you need any help, please feel free to contact me.