Before a tenancy starts its normal for an inventory to be taken. The information is a record of the physical state of the property and in this blog we talk about why it is so important.

A guide to inventories


Before a tenancy starts, it’s normal for an inventory to be taken. This information is record of the physical state of the property and will be used if there is any dispute about the return of the deposit money once a tenant moves out.

In this blog, we talk about why the inventory process is so important and how it could end up saving you money.

What is an inventory?

An inventory details the present state of a property. The first record is taken at start of a tenancy at check-in and will be used as a comparison once tenants move out. The inventory will also detail how clean certain items are in the property. The final report should be as detailed as possible and include dated photographs.

Although an inventory isn’t a legal requirement, it’s always best to take one. It should be well-structured and easy to understand – so make sure you ask about anything that isn’t clear. 

Why do deposits matter?

This money protects the property during the tenancy, and by law, must be safe-guarded in one of three government-authorised tenancy deposit schemes. Once a tenant hands over the deposit, the landlord or letting agent must secure the money in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme.

If the property is not in the same state at the end of a tenancy (allowing for fair wear and tear), the landlord or letting agent may need to make a deduction to the deposit for repairs.

Who carries out an inventory?

A letting agent or landlord can pull together an inventory; but it’s best to have an inventory clerk compile the report as they’re trained to record every detail. At Stirling Ackroyd, we use a specialist service as a thorough inventory is one of the best ways to avoid a deposit dispute at the end of a tenancy.  

Tenants should always meet with the clerk at the property and walk around with them to ensure they agree with the information being recorded. 

What should it include?

The inventory should be a detailed record that includes the following:  

  • The internal structure (walls, ceiling and floor)
  • Decoration, e.g. paintwork
  • Carpets and curtains
  • Furniture and appliances
  • Windows and doors
  • Fittings and fixtures

The report should also include smoke alarms and any carbon monoxide detectors. It may also include meter readings. If you don’t agree with anything recorded, supply high-quality photos or videos straight away and have this changed. This might include any marks that might have been missed, appliances that don’t work or items that aren’t there. Make sure that photos are high resolution and that the room is well lit. It’s also a good idea to show an indication of scale with a ruler. Finally, make sure the images are date stamped.

What happens at the end of a tenancy?

At the end of a tenancy the clerk will come back to the property to take a second inventory. As with check-in, we recommend tenants to be present as the final report will be compared with the original inventory.  

After the clerk leaves, tenants will be contacted by their letting agent or landlord who will then provide a check-out report, which includes any evidence of damage and the cost of repair. If both parties are happy with the report, the deposit will be returned, minus any deductions.

What if you don’t agree with the final inventory?  

According to my|deposits, only 1% of tenancies (1) end in a formal dispute, i.e. when the landlord and tenant can’t come to an agreement. 60% of deposits are returned in full, and 39% are given back minus deductions for repairs.  

If you find yourself in a dispute, each TDP scheme offers a free deposit resolution service which will come to a final decision. If this happens, you’ll be asked to show evidence that backs-up your claim. This is why it’s so important you attend the inventory before you move in and agree the detail is all accurate.

Seek expert advice

At Stirling Ackroyd, we successfully move tenants into their new rental homes every day and take great pride in making sure tenancies are set-up for success. If you’d like to speak to our lettings team about our landlord services, call 020 3961 7806 or email us today.