landlord carrying out a check

Anyone involved in the world of renting, whether landlords, letting agents, or tenants, knows how crucial inventories are.

But the big question is, should landlords carry out inventories themselves? If so, what tips should they keep in mind? And what potential pitfalls should they be aware of?

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of professional versus DIY inventories.

The Basics of Inventories

It’s easy to see why many letting agents offer property inventory services and why many landlords choose to do these themselves.

Inventories benefit everyone involved. They help solve, or even prevent, disputes at the end of a tenancy and provide peace of mind for everyone concerned.

Moreover, they protect the property from damage, determine fair wear and tear, and ensure tenants get their deposits back without unjust deductions.

A good inventory will also reduce the risk of misunderstandings during the tenancy, as everything will have been recorded beforehand.

Therefore, it’s essential these inventories are carried out correctly.

Is Hiring a Professional an Unnecessary Expense?

Some people think that simply having an inventory is enough. Taking a few photos of the rooms and any furnishings should suffice to prevent disputes.

Why spend money on something you could do yourself? If landlords or letting agents sit down with their tenants to go through the inventory together, surely this reduces the risk of disputes?

Plus, tenancy agreements usually state the condition the property should be maintained in. So, paying for professional inventory services might seem like an unnecessary expense.

What Issues Can Arise with DIY Inventories?

Despite the initial upfront costs, a professional, independent inventory can save landlords and letting agents more money in the long run.

The Devil’s in the Detail

If an inventory lacks sufficient detail, what’s the point?

Many letting agents and landlords think that photos are all that’s needed. However, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ doesn’t always apply in the property industry, as photos can be misleading depending on the lighting or angle.

With DIY inventories, important details might be missed because those doing them might not consider certain aspects. For example, floor tiles could be cracked or damaged, but without a detailed inventory, this would be hard to prove.

So, while an inventory is meant to prevent disputes, it may end up causing one if not done correctly.

Finding the Time

With the many different tasks and priorities letting agents and landlords have, inventories often fall to the bottom of the to-do list.

As a result, it’s easy for some details to be missed, causing problems for everyone involved.

Lack of Know-How

How many people can confidently say they understand all the ins and outs of inventories?

For most letting agents, inventories aren’t their speciality. They’re something the business offers without fully developed skills or expertise in the area.

Similarly, many landlords aren’t experts in the property industry, particularly regarding inventories.

This can lead to inventories taking longer than they should and lacking in certain parts. If the information isn’t there, specific points can’t be discussed at the end of the tenancy.

With an inventory company, these risks are eliminated.

Room for Disagreement

Not everyone’s definition of ‘clean’ or ‘damaged’ is the same. This can lead to disagreements and potential exploitation.

A landlord or letting agent might record something in the inventory from their own point of view, which might seem unfair to the tenant. Without pictures as evidence, a deposit deduction might be unjust.

On the other hand, going through the inventory with your tenant at the start of the tenancy might put too much faith in their honesty. Tenancy references are useful but can’t always reveal a tenant’s true character! Some tenants might try to exploit a lacking inventory.

Tips for DIY Inventories

Despite the risks, many letting agents and landlords continue to do their own inventories. Here are some handy hints:

The More Words, the Better

Photos should back up the points made in the inventory, not form the core of it.

Many people have too many photographs and not enough words, leaving questions about the property’s true condition.

Writing everything down in as much detail as possible makes for the best inventories. Words provide the details needed, and photos can support any claims made.


Inventories should provide clarity.

Everything needs to be recorded clearly. This ensures landlords, letting agents, and tenants are better covered.

An inventory shouldn’t create disputes but prevent them! When it comes to your property, you can never be too thorough.

Details as Well as Facts

Don’t just list the key features!

If a floor is carpeted, also note the carpet’s condition, any stains, dirt, ridging, indentations or wear. Facts aren’t sufficient without details to back them up!

The Benefits of Hiring an Inventory Expert

Hiring a third party has undeniable benefits, such as:

Help Getting Signatures

Getting signatures is vital for any inventory.

Saving time.

An independent third party has a duty of care to both landlords and tenants, eliminating any conflict of interest.

If one party, like the tenant, doesn’t want to be present during the signing, an inventory expert can sign for them.

The key here is that a third party will be unbiased, benefiting everyone involved.

Expertise in the Area

Your property is an expensive asset. Why not hire the best in the field?

Getting help from a third party allows landlords and letting agents to excel in their areas of expertise while ensuring the inventory is carried out to the highest standard.

Landlords can rest easy knowing the risk of disagreements or deposit disputes at the end of the tenancy is dramatically reduced.

Solve Disputes Before They Occur

Inventories should help landlords and letting agents take a proactive approach if any issues arise.

A professionally compiled inventory will identify any disputes at the beginning of the tenancy. At the end, it’s too late!

Preventing disputes is much more desirable than solving them after they’ve occurred.

Provide a Safety Net

For landlords, tenants, and letting agents, a professional inventory is like a safety net. They carry more weight than DIY versions due to the third-party expert. Think of them as an independent adjudicator!

All parties can rest assured knowing an unbiased professional has carried out the inventory.

In many aspects of our lives, we choose professional services. Why not apply the same principle to inventories? And an added bonus, the cost can be offset against any profit on the rent!