The Importance Of A Landlord Property Inventory

It’s been a long, frosty week, and it’s starting to show as I haven’t been this unshaven in a while. I’m still representing my swag though. Holla.

I’ve had a tenant vacate, which left me with 5 days to turn around the property so it looks presentable for my new tenant. During the cafuffle, I managed to learn an extremely important lesson about Landlording- inventories are imperative. I always knew they were important, but until now, I didn’t realise how important and useful they are.

Remember that song by Baz Lurhman, Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)? Basically, it’s about how he has loads of advice to give based on his own experience, but there’s one thing he found to be true, regardless of what you’ve been through and experienced, that is to wear sunscreen. I’m saying the same thing to landlords, “Everybody’s free (to do an inventory)”

What is an inventory?

The Inventory is a listing of all the contents of a property and a record of the condition of each item. It’s also referred to as a “schedule of condition”. The form is designed to help monitor the condition of the items before a tenant moves in and just before a tenant leaves, so it can be made clear what damages, if any, need to be paid for.

More details: Rental Inventory Form

This is what happened

My ex-tenant moved out after 4 years of tenancy, consequently I was due to perform a thorough inspection to make sure everything was in working order. After 4 years, I expected a lot of wear and tear, especially since she had 2 rascal snot-faced children running around like Batman and Robin. I actually wasn’t going to be fussy; small blunders like spills on the carpet and splattered shit on the walls wasn’t going to shake me. I was looking out for holes in the walls and cracked windows, basically repairs that could potentially put a serious hole in my pocket and shorten my lifespan.

Unfortunately, my problem was that I forgot what condition everything was in when she initially moved in. Fortunately, I had done an inventory when the tenant had moved in. I didn’t even remember doing it, but found it amongst the fuss of trying to find a blank tenancy agreement for my new tenant.

As I was scouring around the property, looking for the residue of children, I noticed that the front door was completely busted. But it wasn’t obvious; it was only when I opened the door and looked at the chubb lock that I realised there was a huge split, from the lock (middle of the door) to the top of the door. Additionally, directly above the lock, there was a huge hollow gap where it should have been solid wood. It’s quite difficult to explain, but basically, the door needed replacing. I even got a carpenter around to see if it could be resurrected by a Viagra pill, or something. He just laughed and said, “Good luck, son”

Replacing wooden front doors are expensive, that’s for sure. And since the door was perfectly fine when my tenant moved in, she was liable to pay for it out of her security deposit. But because the nature of the fixture was quite expensive, I didn’t expect it to go down well with my tenant. Potentially, it could cost about £300 to replace (so I’m told).

In the inventory form, next to the “front door” column, there’s a tick under the “excellent” condition heading. What a life saver.

Taking it to the next level

Here, you can download a sample inventory form for free. But some times a simple checklist isn’t good enough for a lot of Landlords, especially Landlords with experience. I know that a lot of Landlords take pictures of the property with the tenant, so there’s solid proof of the condition of the property. I never used to take pictures but for the past year I’ve been doing it. It maybe a bit extreme, but it could honestly save you a lot of money and disputes. You don’t need to go crazy and take pictures of every nook and cranny; just take pictures of each room and the expensive items E.g. doors, windows and kitchen/bathroom fittings. This doesn’t just protect landlords, but tenants, too.

Have you ever relied on an inventory form to cross reference the condition of your property, from before and after a tenant left? Love to hear your story, chaps and chapettes!

Like this post? Then maybe you should sign up to my FREE newsletter so you receive more like it!

10 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
Justin Burns 5th February, 2009 @ 10:28

Solid advice and even more important with the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

If a dispute goes to the Dispute Resolution Service laid on by the authorised scheme the onus is on the Landlord to prove the damage. If they can't offer any proof then the tenant gets the deposit back in full.

I would always advise Landlords go through the inventory with the tenant when they move in or failing that add in a clause stating that if it is not signed and returned within 7 days it is deemed to have been accepted by the tenant as accurate

Also, when the tenant is due to leave don't check the inventory off until they have moved all their belongings out of the property; it is often during the act of moving that damage is done.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 7th February, 2009 @ 02:05

That's so true about doing the inventory AFTER the tenant has moved their belongings out. I've had tenants put holes in walls while moving out huge sofas and beds.

Guest Avatar
Nivia 3rd April, 2009 @ 10:51

Hi guys!!
My landlady has been giving me a big headache.
We vacated the property almost a month ago and on the the day we finished the tenancy agreement she inspected the house with us and didn't see any damages.
After 10 days we moved out and after she had already agreed to give our deposit back she wrote to us to say that the sofa had a big tear on the side, which was not true and the sofa was in a bad condition when we moved in but nothing had been written down in the inventory, only the existence of the sofa.
We wrote a letter to her to say we were not going to pay for any damages claimed so late after the end of the tenancy and saying we were going to take court action in case she didn't refunded the full amount and she replied to us saying that she had the right to do so and returning the deposit deducting the cost of the repair.
Now we want to know what we should do to sue her and ask for our money back. Shall we write to her again saying that legal action is going to be taken against her?
We already have another court action against her because she didn't put our money in a deposit scheme. What to we do to claim the rest of our deposit money back?
Thank you guys for everything!!!

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 3rd April, 2009 @ 11:40

Hey Nivia,

I've heard that story all too well.

I think this article might be helpful to you:
My Landlord Won't Give My Deposit Back

Hope that helps.
Kind regards

Guest Avatar
katherine 12th May, 2015 @ 03:05

I need help with this! Thanks. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a rental inventory form, you can find a form here

Guest Avatar
emma 17th March, 2016 @ 12:37

Hi I am after some advice.
My previous landlord did not secure my deposit and did not provide and inventory when we moved into the property in September 14.
He is now refusing our deposit back as he claims we have damaged an expensive piece of furniture. However the furniture in question was verbally told to me by his wife on an inspection that it can been thrown out as it was taking space up. His son inspected the property with us as the landlord was out of the country and he wrote and signed that the property was left in a reasonable standard.
The landlord is now saying that he wants to inspect the property himself to asses for damages.
Also he agreed that we could terminate the property early and now his saying he wants money back for loss of rent even though he is selling the property.
Can someone please advice us on what we can do.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 17th March, 2016 @ 12:40

I don't think your landlord has a leg to stand on.

If your landlord didn't secure the deposit, you can prosecute him for up to 3 x the deposit amount.

Also, due to recent changes in the legislation, he can't repossess the property because he hasn't secured the deposit.

Refer to the following blog post:

Guest Avatar
emma 17th March, 2016 @ 12:48

Thanks for the advice.
Do you no if he can go into the property and inspect it again without us present even though his son has already and signed that is was left in a reasonable condition.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 17th March, 2016 @ 12:54

The landlord (or anyone acting on his/her behalf) can't enter the property without your permission unless there is an emergency e.g. fire. But generally, they can't just walk in without permission.

But, if he wants to inspect the property again, there's no reason not to (unless he's doing it every month, in which case it might be deemed as harassment), just arrange it for a suitable time.

He can't deduct anything from the deposit because he hasn't secured it. He's shot himself in the foot, to be honest.

Guest Avatar
Annmarie 3rd August, 2017 @ 10:35

Hi! I know this is an old post but I am struggling to find info for my specific query, so I do hope you can advise.

I have just moved into a property and have not yet been sent the check in inventory (I wasn't actually aware you should attend despite being both a tenant and landlady in the past few years! For my own tenants it's always done by an independent company and I have just trusted them).

My contract says that I have 7 days from receipt of inventory to raise any discrepancies, however I cannot do this if I don't receive it. I have already paid up front for the check out inventory... I am suspicious the landlord isn't bothering to do either as when I moved in there were a few issues that had not been dealt with and twice now I have asked to see the inventory and the reply email always answers my other questions/ queries but not about the inventory.

Before moving my stuff in I popped into the flat and took a video as the walls were heavily marked, bedroom carpet stained, the property hadn't been professionally cleaned, there were holes and picture hooks everywhere and there was damage to the front door. Now I wish I had taken photos but I had to get back to my previous flat before the removal men arrived. The LL was made aware of the issues straight away by email and he has since organised professional cleaners and someone to fix the door.

So, my concern is that if I cannot check the inventory, when I move out the LL could claim I was sent it and didn't raise any issues within the 7 days period. My query is, if he is not even doing the inventories why should I have paid £150 for a check out inventory? Can I claim this back whenever I move out? Surely if there is no check in inventory then he cannot possibly charge for a check out one as there is nothing to compare it to?

That's all the info anyway. Thanks in advance.


Please leave a comment...