Rental deposits have reached new highs, and based on a deposit of six weeks’ rent, the average figure now stands at £2,172*, according to our latest data.
*The average monthly rent for a flat is £1,120, and for a house is £1,882
With such large sums of money at stake, we would urge both tenants and landlords to consider the benefits of establishing a comprehensive inventory upon the commencement of a new let.
Ian Potter, Operations Manager of ARLA, said: “Deposit disputes can be one of the biggest problems for both parties involved in any rental property, and many potential issues can be avoided if a professional inventory is prepared.
“A licensed letting agent will offer you the best advice on checking to see if an existing inventory is available or whether any extra charges are invoked in drawing up a new document. A true inventory is not simply a list of items in a property – it also includes a description of the condition and cleanliness at the start and finish of the tenancy, enabling one to be compared against the other with clarity and accuracy.
“Photographs are a good support for comments made in a written inventory but should not be considered a replacement for the written word. Photographs which are unsigned and undated generally are not worth the effort, so make sure they are accepted at the outset and again at the check-out stage.”
We would advise remembering the following key points to ensuring inventory accuracy:
- Note the detail- prepare a comprehensive inventory of all the contents and features of the property, and record their condition accurately and objectively. Do not forget to mention walls, ceilings and doors, which can all incur damage.
- Take a thorough photographic record of the property’s condition at the start of the tenancy. Any photos taken should be jointly approved by the landlord and tenant, and separate copies should be retained by both parties. Illustrate the size of stains on carpets marks on walls by placing a ruler or other easily-identifiable item beside the damage – this provides evidence to protect both the landlord and tenant.
- Note the starting gas and electricity meter readings to avoid bill disputes – both internally, and with external energy suppliers. Make sure these are included on the signed inventory.
If you are a tenant, ensure you are aware of guidelines on ‘betterment’. Some aspects of a property, such as paintwork, will naturally deteriorate over time; therefore a landlord should not request that items be restored to a condition surpassing the quality established at the start of the lease. Landlords need to allow for fair wear and tear by the occupier relative to the length of time in the property, the number of occupiers and their age. Family homes, in particular, will always require a greater allowance for wear and tear.
Ian Potter said: “A well put-together inventory can give both landlords and tenants peace of mind throughout the occupation period. The inventory is not designed to catch tenants out, but rather to ensure both parties are in agreement over the quality of the property being rented.
“If conducted correctly, and agreed by both tenant and landlord, an inventory should form a key point of reference for any deposit-return queries or issues over reported damage. In recognition of the importance of inventories ARLA has its own sub division, the Association of Professional Inventory Providers, whose members have passed an accreditation exam as well as having a Code of Practice to follow.”
www.arla.co.uk – Thursday, April 21, 2011