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A renters guide to inventories and inspections - all you need to know before you sign a rental agreement

02/03/2022 Professionals Tips & Advice Students
A renters guide to inventories and inspections - all you need to know before you sign a rental agreement

What is an inventory? What should you do with your property inventory? How should you report an issue if something goes wrong? This guide has all you need to know to feel confident when signing a rental agreement on a property.

Inventories are an important part of a tenancy – they hold the key for getting your full deposit back and can help prevent any disputes at the end of the tenancy.

What is an Inventory?

An inventory is a detailed report on the condition and contents of a property at the start of a tenancy.  They are usually created for all types of tenancy from furnished and part-furnished to unfurnished accommodation and they list the furniture, fixtures and fittings in every room, along with a description of the condition.

Whilst there are specific companies who offer inventory services, we prefer to carry them out ourselves for several reasons, first and foremost being that no one knows the properties as well as we do.

What to do with an inventory

When you are given an inventory report, take some time to walk through and examine every piece of furniture, wall, carpet and fixture in each room. Make sure you compare this to the inventory provided and note any differences if you find any.  There shouldn’t be any but it’s always worth checking.

Be as thorough as possible and, if you do find any discrepancies, try to take some pictures as you go along for your own reference and to provide them to your landlord/letting agency. 

As a brief guide here are some pointers for things to look out for:

  • Damage to walls and floors, including stains, scuffs, dents, holes.
  • The reliability of the walls, floors and ceilings. Are there any broken floorboards or holes in the ceiling?
  • Curtains and carpets: are there any stains, holes or marks?
  • Windows and doors: Are there any chips? Is there damage to the sealant? Can you see any rot or mould?
  • For furnished properties, what condition is the furniture in? Note things like rips in the fabric of the sofa and scratches on the coffee table.
  • Cupboards, doors and wardrobes: check for warped, sticking doors and broken hinges.
  • What do the electrical and gas appliances look like?
  • Are the sockets ok?
  • Run the taps to check for pressure, as well as the quality of the water.
  • Are there any cracks in the sink or chips in the tiles?
  • Head outside and check the roof and gutters. Any missing slates or roof tiles? Do the gutters need cleaning?
  • What do the external walls look like? Any cracks? 

Mid-tenancy inspections

While you won’t be expected to check and sign any inventories while you live in the property, your landlord or letting agent may book in some mid-tenancy inspections. These are designed to make sure everything is being well maintained. The condition of the property and its contents are assessed and any notes to make repairs are made.

These inspections are a great opportunity for you to address any issues, such as any redecorating or any DIY that’s needed. Plus, your landlord/letting agent may have follow-up actions for you to carry out.

This is all useful for when you come to move out of the property as these inspections and the resulting repairs can crop up. Keep hold of any correspondence about the inspections and repairs. Whether these are texts, emails or letters, if they detail the steps that they want to take to address any issues or repairs, you can use this in the event of a dispute later on.

Wear and tear during your tenancy

General wear and tear must be taken into account. You might not be able to leave the property exactly as you found it because carpets get worn and tiny scuffs and scrapes are to be expected. You can’t be charged for anything that can be put down to everyday use, and your landlord or letting agent can’t take some of your deposit for things that fall into this category although this is a notoriously grey area and can be subject to some vast differences of opinion.

What if they find something wrong?

If some damage is flagged in the checkout report that isn’t being put down to wear and tear and deductions are being made from your deposit to cover the costs, you’ll need to decide if you agree with this decision, or you want to contest it.

Should you think something isn’t quite right, you’ll need to gather together your copy of the initial inventory as well as this new one, plus your photographs, receipts from any repair work and anything else that could be used as proof. Next, go back and respond to each claim, referring back to the inventories and other details as you go.

Your landlord should drop their claim if they see you have proof that you haven’t damaged the property in any way. If defending yourself in this way doesn’t work, contact the deposit protection scheme that holds your deposit and they should be able to help you resolve the issue.

In this case, an adjudicator will look through everything and take both sides into account. Keeping on top of everything during your tenancy will help things to go in your favour if you reach this stage.

To avoid deposit deductions, take out a tenants liability insurance policy to protect yourself against accidental damage caused to the landlord's property.

If you are considering a move and would like more advice on the process, contact our team. We have over 18 years of experience and offer helpful and friendly advice to ensure you find the right property for your needs. We are members of SafeAgent, The Property Ombudsman and MyDeposits so you can feel confident you are in the right hands.

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