What’s so important about an Inventory?
As you are no doubt aware the Tenancy Deposit Scheme was introduced to the Private Rented Sector in 2011/2012 and from November 2012 all tenant deposits have required to be submitted to one of the 3 Schemes, approved by the Scottish Government.
In answer to the above question – an Inventory is the basis of evidence that is put to the TDS if a tenant disputes the proposed deductions from their deposit. If an Inventory is not available it is highly unlikely that a claim would be successful.
This link to Safe Deposits Scotland provides more information on what information is likely to be requested should a deposit deduction be disputed and identifies that a detailed Inventory is extremely important.
What information should be included in an Inventory?
- An itemised list of furniture, fittings, fixtures, along with their condition
- Statements indicating the condition of areas within the property and the level of cleanliness
- photos, not just of damage, but of everything in the property.
At Watt Property we spend a lot of time ensuring that our Inventories are extremely detailed. As soon as a tenant is secured for a property, and we are sure that the property is presented in exactly the way it will be on the tenancy start date, a member of staff will visit the property and take a catalogue of photos throughout. Photos will be taken of absolutely everything that is possible. We spend approximately 2 hours (based on a one bedroom property) at the property, photos are taken of all walls, doors, floors, windows, ceilings, furniture, fixtures, soft furnishings (including both sides of the mattress) and a detailed list of items, per room, is prepared along with the condition of these items noted alongside. We then return to the office and collate all of this information, together with general information that the tenant should know about the property, eg utility suppliers, location of stop cock & meter readings. The photos are all saved into folders for each individual room within the property and these folders, together with the list of contents & condition, are saved to a USB pen drive , which is provided to the tenants at their move in date. Tenants have 7 days to revert back to the agency with any adjustments they consider appropriate and, if these are agreed, the Inventory is amended accordingly. Once the 7 days has lapsed the Inventory held on file is considered to be the final version and is used throughout the tenancy for reference purposes and also updated if there are changes introduced. Most importantly this information is presented to the tenants at the end of their tenancy with any deposit deduction proposals we may have. Generally, as tenants are fully aware of the evidence held by the agency, deductions are agreed very quickly and the deposit can be released accordingly. Very occasionally, we have entered into a dispute scenario with TDS and our Inventories have proven to be successful in assisting with a claim.
Who provides the Inventory?
Watt Property offer this service as an additional service to our management packages as we prefer landlords to have the opportunity to provide this if they so wish. The Inventory must be provided as close to the entry date as possible and always once all work has been carried out on the property for the start of a new tenancy. The final inventory must be provided to the Agency prior to the tenants appointment to collect they keys on the date of entry.
Through our training, both in-house and from TDS Seminars, all members of staff in our office are happy to provide this service to our clients. We can also offer it as a single service to non-management clients, should a landlord want to utilise our experience in this way.
Our fees for inventories start at £80+vat, based on a one bedroom furnished flat, with discounts offered for unfurnished properties and additional charges made for larger properties. Please contact Pauline Smith of our office to find out more.
Can we use the same Inventory for the next tenancy?
This is not advised.
If an Inventory is being used as evidence for a claim against a deposit, the TDS will require to see dates on the digital photos, along with the file dates of the contents list. It is very unlikely that the Dispute Team will consider historic photos within a claim, even if the property had been returned in exactly the same condition as it was when the initial Inventory was carried out.
I have more questions….
We hope that this blog has provided you with more awareness of the need for an Inventory in each of your tenancies, but you may have more questions and we would be delighted to chat with you directly to answer these.
Please contact Pauline Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0131 555 2777
We would also recommend that you take a look at the undernoted website as there is a wealth of knowledge and guidance held by Safe Deposits Scotland in relation to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Watt Property are members of SDS and find their service to be first class.