Disputes of this kind occur the most frequently out of all disputes. Generally they take the form of a landlord withholding a deposit to cover the cost of any repairs that have to be made to return the property to the condition it was in at the beginning of the tenancy. Tenants will often argue that they are leaving it as it was, and any damages were already there before they moved in. Taking the dispute to the PRTB can be a lengthy and costly process, so it’s better to prevent the dispute from occurring in the first place. How is this done? Quite simply really, take an inventory.
An inventory is a log of the property, the contents and the condition of them. They reduce the occurrence of disputes and can speed up the resolution process and reduce costs if a dispute does arise. If the inventory taken just before the start of a tenancy is comprehensive enough, there shouldn’t be a problem in spotting damages or anything that goes beyond normal wear and tear. A landlord can choose to do it themselves or hire a professional inventory clerk. To do it themselves, a landlord will need the following:
- Patience. A proper inventory takes time to complete
- A clear and methodical process is needed to ensure everything is noted correctly and can be easily checked. For example: take one room at a time, noting the main items first and their condition. Be sure to note if there’s currently any damage or if an item is brand new. Then list the smaller items e.g. pictures and their condition
- Be detailed and realistic in your descriptions e.g. say one brown leather two seater sofa with scuff marks on the left back leg, instead of one sofa
- Take photographs (preferably with a digital camera) of the rooms as a whole from multiple angles as well as of individual items
- After the inventory is complete, walk around the property with the tenant and agree the descriptions, ensuring that the tenant checks and signs the inventory list. Sign it yourself, keep the master list and hand over a copy.
- If any changes are made e.g. new curtains, an amendment should be made to the inventory.
- While this option is cheaper, it does involve the risk of bias.
For the professional inventory clerk option:
- Dedicated inventory companies haven’t taken much of a foothold in Ireland as yet although there are some companies who provide this service.
- These companies take over the landlord’s role by doing a full inventory, walking around with the tenant and reaching an agreement and at the end of the tenancy they’ll carry out a full analysis of the original report and compare it to the current condition.
- They also carry out inspections throughout the tenancy and adjust the inventory when needed. This keeps things up to date to prevent disputes at the end of the tenancy.
- As they are trained for the job you can expect the final report to be well structured and very detailed with possibly more observations, more so than if it was just an ordinary landlord conducting it.
- Also, a third party will more likely be impartial so the bias pitfall is easily avoided and better judgement calls relating to wear and tear can be made.
- A letting agent will do close enough to the same job as a professional inventory clerk. If your letting agent uses Rentview they will have the ability to share a full picture condition property inventory report directly into your email or through your Rentview account.
The decision of which option to choose is a matter of preference. Landlords who have the time, patience and ability to be methodical, concise and realistic will probably do it themselves but those who live a distance from the property or who just don’t want to go through the hassle of it all will probably choose the dedicated service. Or if the landlord is confident that the letting agent will do a good enough job then that will suffice.
To find out more about the Rentview Inventory app contact