What is an inventory?
The inventory is an in-depth report on a rental property and its contents. Inventories are created for all types of rental property, from furnished and part-furnished through to unfurnished accommodation, and they list the furniture, fixtures and fittings in every room, along with a description of their condition. This document will also list any issues with the property which may violate the Fitness for Human Habitation Act which was updated with stricter rules in April 2019 (for more information on these changes, click the link to our previous blog http://www.pureestateagency.co.uk/blog/83-home-fitness-for-human-habitation-act-2018-are-you-prepared)
An inventory might seem costly and unnecessary if you have always had good tenants but are you able to answer the following questions about your property:
- Are your smoke detectors in the right place, do they function and when do they expire?
- Do you have a carbon monoxide detector?
Under The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 landlords are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their property and that a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance (e.g. a coal fire or a wood burning stove). The landlord must make sure that the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.
- Do your stairs post a fall risk to different types of tenants?
A lack of handrails, steep stairs and poor lighting can pose trip hazards that contribute to falls, if there is a potential trip hazard in your home and your tenant falls they can make claim against you as the landlord. For example, if the carpet is not fitted on the stairs properly, if floor tiles are not level or if there are awkward steps or restricted headroom there should be appropriate signage.
- Could there be electrical issues?
We would recommend that there is a visual inspection done between tenancies to check that there is adequate RCD protection and that any appliances meet the CE marking as a minimum. There are also currently plans for the introduction of mandatory EICR (electrical installation condition report) for all private tenancies.
- Does your property have potential damp and mould issues?
This is an issue that causes tenants and landlords a great deal of confusion. There are different causes of damp but legally, if there is a diagnosis that suggests there is rising or penetrating damp, this would be the landlord’s responsibility as the issue is within the property’s structure. There is also overlap into the repairing obligations set out in Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985
If the damp is caused by condensation this is a consequence of the tenants lifestyle and everyday activities such as cooking and washing, showing all create moisture. If moisture cannot escape and the property is not properly ventilated then this causes damp and mould.
- How does your structure hold up? – is there a threat of collapse, fire hazards, excess cold or domestic hygiene issues
- Do you know that any of the above could see your tenants make a claim against you under the Fitness for Human Habitation Act or could result in at least one Housing Health and Safety Rating Assessment (HHSRS).
Why is an inventory important?
The inventory is important because it’s an account of what everything looked like when your tenant moved in. If everything is detailed for everyone to see, you’re less likely to find yourself in a dispute with your tenants about the condition of the property and you’re more likely make a deduction against the deposit for any cleaning / damages.
Without the inventory, you have no proof of the property’s condition when your tenant moved in and could be challenged about damages that have been caused. You could find that you have to foot the bill for some, if not all of the cleaning and repairs which were not your fault.
If there is no inventory at all, the adjudicator whose job it is to deal with any disputes is highly likely to reject any claim you make. Therefore, while it’s not a legal requirement for a landlord to provide an inventory of their rental property, it’s in both your and your tenant’s best interests to supply this detailed look at its condition.
Also with the changes made to the Fitness for Human Habitation Act, there is more ground for a tenant to make a claim against their landlord if a rental property does not adhere to the legislation. If your property is deficient in any for the points listed above (and many more), your tenant is well within their rights to sue you.
We always recommend an inventory for all of our landlords and we use a third party company who's inventories are thorough and will recommend any potential works that need doing to the property to keep it in line with current legislation. We keep their inventories on file and compare them to check out documentation at the end of tenancy to help with any potential claims.
For more information on inventories or to find out how we can help with you rental property, please give us a call on 01603 618618.