What’s an Inventory Clerk and do I need one?

Renting property can be a tricky business, for both landlords and tenants. A marked wall, broken window or ripped carpet can cost the tenant a hefty deposit. The landlord may feel money needs to be spent on the property before it can be rented out again. What is the answer? Using a professional inventory service from check-in to check-out. This protects the tenant’s deposit and the landlord’s property - saving both parties time, hassle and money.

What is an inventory clerk?

Inventory clerks are professionals who make detailed notes of the condition and contents of a property before it is rented out by a landlord. The clerk may carry out mid-tenancy checks on the property, and will return when the tenancy expires to compare the original condition with the end-of-tenancy condition. The return of the tenant’s full deposit is usually dependent upon the state in which he or she leaves the property, excluding fair wear and tear.

What is noted on an inventory?

An inventory is a legal document and should be thorough. This is in the interests of the tenant and the landlord. There are less likely to be problems when the tenant is leaving the property if everything is noted in a detailed and efficient manner in the first place. The inventory should be agreed by both the landlord and the tenant when the tenant moves into the property.

The inventory should list everything included in the property. This includes the doors and locks, ceiling, walls, light fittings, flooring and carpets, blinds and curtains, smoke detectors, door frames, plug sockets, cupboards, door handles, extractor fans and heating appliances - to name but a few.

As well as these fixtures and fittings, any furniture belonging to the landlord should be included with descriptions of the condition. It is important that any marks, chips or damage is included next to each description, so that the landlord is not responsible for any damage done by the tenant and vice versa. Some inventories also include utility readings – gas, water and electricity. Companies may also take digital photographs of the property.

Who uses inventory clerks?

  • Landlords and letting agencies use inventories. If you own property which you let to tenants, an inventory should be carried out before they move in. If you rent out more than one property, some inventory companies, such as Verismart offer discounted rates.
  • Some inventory companies also provide a snagging service. If you are buying a property which is a new build, a professional can examine it before you move in and discuss any faults with the developer or builder. “Why in this day and age is it acceptable to sell brand new homes that have an average of 118 defects per property and then take months to put them right?” asks snagging company, Inspector Home. Snagging companies carry out thorough audits of new homes and negotiate with those responsible for the problems, to solve them.

How do I find an inventory clerk?

The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks is a professional body with a code of practice for each of its members. This is a useful place to look for an inventory clerk, because you can be assured of a level of professionalism.

What are the advantages of employing an inventory clerk?

If you are a landlord, hiring an inventory clerk can save you time and problems. The professional service means that you have peace of mind that nothing is missed off the inventory.

If you decide to carry out the inventory yourself, it is important to do a thorough job. Have a look at this sample inventory on the Verismart website to ensure you cover everything.

Employing an inventory clerk can also ensure that any disputes at the end of a tenancy do not get personal, and are resolved fairly. For instance, one sticking point between landlords and tenants can be the definition of ‘fair wear and tear’. Damage which happens because of wear and tear cannot fairly be the responsibility of the tenant. An inventory clerk should be independent, and will consider factors including the quality of the product and its condition at the beginning and at the end of the tenancy.

What is the Tenancy Deposit Scheme?

It is common for landlords to ask for a deposit from new tenants, often six weeks’ rent, which he or she will hold until the tenant moves out. This is to cover any damage or breakages which occur in during the tenancy, as well as late payment of rent. For private landlords (who do not use a managing or letting agency for the property), it is usually up to his or her discretion whether the full deposit is returned to the tenant on check-out.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme has been set up by the Independent Housing Ombudsman to regulate these circumstances, ensuring that disputes are settled fairly and without too much delay, and without any charge. However, not all areas of the United Kingdom are covered by the scheme, which is currently limited to a pilot programme. Wheteher you are a tennant or a landlord, check to see if the Tenancy Deposit Scheme can help you.

How much will I be charged by an inventory clerk?

If you are a landlord, you may decide to use a letting agency to rent your property. They should provide an inventory service, but will charge a fee; these fee's will vary from agent to agent, so best to check with yours directly. Some may may charge per hour and some but size of the property.

Don’t forget…

  • Shop around. Some companies, including Inventories Online, offer quick online quotations without obligation.
  • Anything locked away (in lofts or sheds) and which is not noted on the inventory is your responsibility as the landlord.
  • If the inventory is carried out after the tenant has moved in, there may be discrepancies on the inventory as to what belongs to you. It is up to you to point out any mistakes and ensure they are rectified.
  • As a tenant, or as a landlord, you may incur costs if the objects listed on the inventory are not in their original position at the time of the final check-out. It is not the job of the inventory clerk to search for missing items – they are likely to be noted as missing. If the clerk does have to look for objects, you may be charged a fee for the inconvenience.

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