It is effectively a list of all of the items that are found within the property you are renting. This should include all of the rooms and areas of your new place, and any furniture or appliances that are found in each of these room.
By signing the inventory you are agreeing that you are aware of what is included in your tenancy agreement, and you are liable for any damage or misuse to these elements of the property.
As part of the inventory itself you will find the ‘Schedule of Condition’ - which is where the condition of the property and any furniture or appliances is noted. There should be a detailed account of any damage, stains, cracks or other issues within the property. As we mentioned in our guide to deposits, you should aim to take loads of photos to show exactly what is being referenced.
When you move in you are likely going to be required to do a ‘Check-In’ with the landlord or agent who is dealing with the property. You want to be sure that any issues are being correctly noted in the inventory and that the landlord or agent is aware of these issues. That way you will not be charged for these further down the line during the ‘Check-Out’.
Unfortunately, the inventory checks are usually not free, but often they will be shared between the landlord and the tenant. So you may be required to pay for the ‘Check-in’ and the landlord may cover the ‘Check-out’. Whatever the deal, this should be clearly stated in your tenancy agreement, so make sure you are clear on this before you sign the agreement.
No matter what, you will want some sort of inventory to ensure you are not liable to pay for damage you did not cause later down the line. If the landlord or agent is not willing to carry out an inventory, then you should do one yourself as soon as you can, and make sure to take clearly dated photographs to accompany it. Dated photos are important as they prove the damage was there prior to your tenancy. To prove the date, take a close up photo of the daily newspaper (with the date clearly visible). Then include the newspaper in every photo, with the front page clearly in view. Make sure to get written confirmation that the landlord or agent has received your inventory.
When you move out, you will be required to do a ‘Check-Out’ inventory. Effectively, you will compare the state of the house from the when you moved in to now. This way you can assess if there is any damage beyond reasonable ‘wear and tear’.
What counts as wear and tear? We can all agree that a new piece of furniture is not going to look brand new after is has been used for 12 months. So as long at that piece of furniture is not damaged or stained - and has been used as expected, then a bit of wear an tear is acceptable.
If there is damage to the property or additional cleaning is required, you will likely have the cost deducted from your security deposit. Find out more about this in our guide to deposits. Ultimately, a thorough inventory gives you good evidence to the condition of the house when you moved in. If you look after the house in a reasonable manner, then the inventory will show this, and you can prove that you should not be charged for anything additional. That way there is no chance you will be asked to replace a broken lamp that was already cracked when you moved in!
Let us know in the comments below if you have had any unexpected experiences when it comes to your inventory.