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While we’re all adapting to another lockdown, with social events and family visits halted, the UK housing market is undeterred. Tenant demand remains high as people push forward to secure their next home in time for Christmas and the New Year.

This unwavering confidence is good news for landlords, who would benefit from marketing their rental property during such a busy period.

For new landlords, understanding the process of inventories, check-ins and check-outs is vitally important. Not only do these systems protect you from deposit disputes at a later date, but they also help to ensure a smooth and successful tenancy.

Below, using our experience of operating across the Kent lettings market, we take a closer look at what the process entails.

The check-in

At the beginning of your tenancy, your renters will sign a tenancy agreement outlining the do’s and don’ts and rules and regulations they must abide by during their time in your rental home. This is where an inventory should take place, agreed upon and signed by all relevant parties.

The inventory will allow a landlord to keep tabs on the state of their property and its contents throughout the tenancy. If, during the tenancy, any damage has been caused, or any items are missing or broken, your tenants could be required to cover this from their original deposit.

Therefore, an inventory is crucial for keeping disputes and issues between landlords and renters at bay, portraying a before and after image of your property. Typically, an inventory will include video or photographs which are time and date stamped.

A good inventory should consist of a full written report of condition (known as a schedule of condition), which acts as a comprehensive overview of your property’s exterior and interior.

What’s more, equipment serial numbers, a full list of keys (and who they’re given to), meter readings and alarm codes should be documented.

Who should carry out the inventory?

While the inventory is something you can do independently, landlords are generally advised against carrying out their own. This is because it involves a lot of work and an expert eye for detail, and you could invite accusations of bias if it’s not independent evidence.

To ensure your inventory is carried out to a rigorous and professional standard, you or your letting agent can arrange for it to be conducted by an independent inventory clerk – guaranteeing you an impartial service.

An alternative is to ask your letting agent to carry out the inventory for you. Here at Eden Estates we will arrange a professional inventory and check-in on your behalf, as well as conduct regular property inspections to ensure your home is being kept in excellent condition.

The check-out

All good things eventually come to an end at some point, and this is where a smooth check-out is required.

Luckily, the process itself is fairly straightforward. During check-out, the inventory should be looked through in detail, comparing the present condition of the property to the condition in which it was first let in.

Everything should be agreed with the tenants before their deposit is returned. However, if there is any damage or items missing or broken, now is the time to determine how much this will cost you in replacements or repairs. This figure is then deducted from the initial deposit before being returned to the tenant.

If there happens to be a dispute over deposit deductions, a third party may be necessary to try and resolve matters as a last resort. This could be your lettings agency or one of the three government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes: Deposit Protection ServiceMyDeposits and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

If deposit deductions are required, you must make your tenant aware in writing what they owe and how much will be taken from their deposit as a consequence.

For more advice and guidance on inventories and how we can assist you through your rental journey, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

Additionally, you can request a free valuation to get an estimate of how much you could be charging in rent each month.