Professional vs DIY Property Inventory: Which is Best for Landlords?

16th August 2021

A property inventory is beneficial to both landlords and tenants, and is vital when it comes to preventing and resolving disputes at the end of a tenancy. But what are the differences between a landlord DIY inventory and a professional report, and what are the risks involved in self-reporting?

Property inventory

A property inventory is a report detailing the state of a property at the start of a tenancy, providing information on contents, fixtures, fittings and condition. The report is beneficial to both landlords and tenants, and is vital when it comes to preventing and resolving disputes at the end of a tenancy. But what are the differences between a landlord DIY inventory and a professional report, and what are the risks involved in self-reporting?

Disputes over cleaning and damage are fairly common during a tenancy. But if there is a clear record of the contents and condition of a property at the start of the rental, then it is a much more straightforward job to resolve any disagreements.

This is why a property inventory is so beneficial to both landlord and tenant. In fact, with a detailed inventory in place, disputes are often avoided altogether, with the property protected from damage and tenants able to see their deposits returned without any unfair deductions made.

Because of the reliance placed on the property inventory, it is vital that these reports are undertaken accurately, that they are fully detailed, and that there is no bias involved. Still, many landlords choose to carry out their own inventories, preferring to save on costs.

The DIY inventory usually consists of a handful of photos of each room, together with a basic list of contents. But is this really enough to prevent disputes arising, and to protect the landlord should they need to make a deduction from the deposit for damage? Here’s a look at some of the issues that can arise with DIY inventories.

Lack of detail

There is only so much that a photograph can show. An inventory report that lacks written commentary as to the condition of each and every item, fixture and fitting within a property is never going to be much help, especially if it falls under the scrutiny of a deposit scheme adjudicator.

A landlord’s life is a busy one. Compiling an inventory is often low on the priority list, which means that often, details will be missed.

During the course of a professional inventory however, the clerk undertaking the inspection will have a set process by which they cover every element of a room, from floor to ceiling and left to right. Nothing will be missed, be it a crack in a floor tile, a hole in a wall or a stain on a carpet.

Lack of expertise

An inventory is a specialist document, and the inventory clerks who compile them are intensively trained to do so. They are aware of the responsibilities of a landlord in terms of health and safety and other legislation, and will naturally identify issues that a lay person may overlook.

Inventory clerks also have an in-depth understanding of how deposit scheme adjudicators work and the level of evidence they will be looking for when considering a landlord’s request to make deductions from the deposit.

As a landlord, it is unlikely that you will have this level of knowledge, which may result in the inventory taking longer than necessary to compile, and lacking in certain areas. Omissions and inaccuracies in an inventory will inevitably result in disputes.

Lack of impartiality

When an inventory report is compiled, it is vital that all that is stated is fact, rather than personal opinion. This of course can be difficult to achieve from the point of view of the landlord, who has a personal connection with the property and its contents.

Deposit scheme adjudicators will look for fact-based evidence when considering any claim for damage, and may reject a claim that falls short in this respect.

Inventory clerks are trained to be impartial and factual in their reporting skills. They will never include any personal opinion, ensuring that there is unbiased clarity for both landlord and tenant.

Why choose a professional inventory over a DIY report?

Aside from the benefits already mentioned, a professional inventory carries a great deal more weight than a DIY version.

The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) says, “Any inventory document written by the landlord (not an independent third party) that doesn’t give details about the condition or age of an item will have less value when being considered by the adjudicator. It may also affect the landlord’s claim based on ‘a balance of probabilities.”

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) says, “The importance of a properly completed inventory cannot be underestimated. It must be robust and defensible if it is to be held up as a proper indicator of the facts and therefore viewed as acceptable by an adjudicator or court. Tenancy deposit protection schemes do not disregard, out of hand, inventories that are not prepared by independent companies or individuals. However, they are likely to place less weight on their contents.”

With a professional, unbiased inventory, all parties involved can enjoy peace of mind that they will have a strong safety net to protect their interests.

Looking for a property management service that comes complete with professional inventories, and guarantees your rent?

The homes2let guaranteed rent scheme ensures rent is paid on time every month, even during void periods, as well as removing the burden of property management, including arranging property inventories, check-in and check-out reports and mid-term inspections. All the reports you need for complete peace of mind.

Interested to learn more? You are welcome to get in touch with our expert team to discover how we can make your life as a landlord so much easier.

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