Your inventory checklist
Being a landlord on the Fylde Coast can be a rewarding profession. But when disputes arise (and sooner or later one always arises) you’ll find yourself in a situation where your word counts for nothing without proof to back it up.
An inventory is the simplest way to agree the condition of the property, its fixtures and fittings with your tenant. It is an essential, there to protect both landlord and tenant. But if it’s to do its job properly and not give your tenant an unfair advantage, it needs to be the right sort of inventory.
Words and pictures
“Stain in middle of carpet.”
“Scratch to wallpaper beneath window.”
You’ll find phrases like this cropping up on inventories time and time again, but there’s a big problem with these descriptions.
Is the stain a tiny drip of red wine or does it look like the last tenant has been carrying out human sacrifice? Is the scratch to the wallpaper an ‘I’d never have noticed if you hadn’t mentioned it’ sort of deal, or does it look as though you’ve unleashed a bag of cats in the room?
There’s a similar issue with pictures. It’s all too easy to take hurried photos without ever really checking to see whether the issue you’re identifying is visible on the photo. You know the sort of thing – where light turns the image into a glare-filled screen of nothing, or a silhouette.
So if you opt for a purely picture-based approach and your inventory ends up supporting your case at dispute, you could find yourself being asked “What is it I’m supposed to be looking at?”
The key, of course, is to use both words and pictures, clearly linking the two. So the stain you refer to is clearly shown in the picture next to it, or is referenced in the content (eg “see fig 1”).
Dates have proved to be the downfall of many a landlord at dispute. When the onus is on the landlord and you’re asked to prove when the damage occurred, you have to be able to do so in a legally watertight way.
It’s not enough to show a date stamp on a photo (because you can change the date on your camera whenever you wish). Nor is dropping, for example, a newspaper into shot, not least because that makes for a seriously fiddly photo shoot.
The simplest way to demonstrate the inventory was carried out on an agreed date is for both parties to sign and date it.
That small carpet stain only looks small when there’s something else in the image giving it context. Otherwise even the smallest stain, shot close up, can look as though you’ve emptied the contents of a vineyard on the Axminster.
So ensure your images leave the reader in no doubt as to the scale of the issue, or provide measurements in the written description.
According to the last Rent Check Report by Allsop’s, the average tenancy is 2.7 years. Now imagine the only time you carry out an inspection of your property is at the start and end of that tenancy. Is it any wonder disputes arise?
Regular inspections (we like to do them quarterly), at a mutually convenient time for you and the tenant and arranged in advance, can help mitigate issues that might otherwise only appear on an inventory check out. That means there’s more time to resolve matters before they become problems.
It’s time to lease your North Fylde property again, but before the old tenant leaves, review the inventory one last time.
Make sure they’re present, and don’t attempt to do it before they’ve cleared their belongings out – that way it’s much easier to spot issues.
Ready to let arrange your next Fylde letting? Talk to us here.