Even as a property investor, you will need to complete a property inventory form of all the contents that are contained within your rental property.
By doing so you will have a clear record of everything that was in it before your tenant moved in, so should a tenant ever move out and a piece of the furniture be missing, you will be able to determine when it went missing.
Yet this form also has another purpose, namely allowing you to monitor the conditions of these items BEFORE the tenancy, DURING the tenancy and AFTER.
If anything gets damaged during this time, using this form you will be able to legally claim the costs back off them.
Now to some professional landlords, this form will feel un-necessary and they won’t fill it in. But this could prove to be a big mistake! Especially when bigger items of furniture get involved.
Think about it a moment... should they damage a washing machine for example, YOU could end up paying the costs for their recklessness! So download a Property Inventory form today and let us help you to safeguard your property investments.
The process – how is the form prepared?
As the landlord, preparing this inventory form should fall under your responsibility but your letting agent or an Independent Inventory Clerk can also do it.
Now to successfully implement it, it should first be agreed upon with the tenant on the day they move in. We recommend you go to see them on the day, take a witness and get the inventory form signed then and there.
Another method to backing your statement is to have photographic evidence of all your contents. This can vary from taking individual photographs of each item, to doing an overview of the whole room.
For the more valuable items within your rental property – cooker and washing machine - we recommend that you opt for single shots as these are more liable to be damaged during the tenancy, with their damage being disputed by the tenant.
Cross-checking – when should it be done?
Okay, getting the form filled in is the first step, the next one is to make sure you keep on checking the condition of these items.
Visiting on a quarterly basis is probably the best way to tackle this, as then you are not imposing on your tenants.
REMEMBER: it is important that you maintain a strong relationship with your tenants.
Bring the original photographs with you, so you can create a direct comparison and take note of their conditions.
Before you do this though, make sure you give your tenants 24 hours notice in writing.
Ideally the last inspection should be done on the day your tenants lease agreement runs out, or in simpler terms the day they move out.
Once again you need to ensure that you have given your tenant notice of your inspection. If everything is found to be okay you can then give them their initial deposit back.
Now before you get tempted to wait until after they have left - following the notion that the property is empty - STOP.
This can prove to be a very bad idea, as your tenant could easily go on to argue that the damage done was not there when they left. So make sure you do it before they leave, to remove the possibility of dispute.
In terms of the deposit, if no damaged has been found you have been 7-14 days to return it.
How to deal with damages
Now if you have followed all of the above correctly, this next part should run smoothly.
Let us explain.
If everyone is agreed on what has been damaged and what needs replacing, the next step you need to take is gather up estimates of how much these replacements/repairs will cost.
In most cases you will be able to make reductions from their deposits, but if you do choose to do this you need to inform them of all the costs in writing and what you will be doing before hand.
Sometimes though – depending on what they have damaged – their deposit will not cover the entire amount. In this scenario you would send your tenant an invoice itemising all the costs involved for these additional payments.
Once they receive it, their insurance company (if they are insured) will cover the costs.
PLEASE NOTE: when assessing the cost for these replacements, you need to take into consideration ‘betterment’. Here you will take into account the original age and condition of the item that needs replacing and factor this into the replacement cost.
Take this scenario for example. You can’t expect a tenant to replace a 20 years old cooker with one that cost £300.
What if tenants cannot agree?
This is where your evidence, inventory and photographs come into play. So if you cannot agree with your tenants as to what has been damaged, the extent of this said damage and the replacement/repair costs, then the following should work in your favour:
- Copies of repair estimates and replacement costs
- Keeping all forms of communication written, not verbal
Add all this documentation together and you can increase the strength of your case. But if it continues to be unresolved, the use of arbitration by a third party i.e. The small claims court.
Should you do an inventory on an unfurnished property
Yes. Even a property that is deemed to be unfurnished will still have items that could be damaged and could cost you money. For example sinks, carpets, wall conditions. If they are there, you need to do an inventory form.
For more help filling out this form, why not speak to one our trained property experts today or alternatively come to one of our FREE 2 hour taster sessions. Led by property professionals who have been successfully investing in the property market for the last 20+ years, you can attend confident that you'll receive all the property advice you could ever need.
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