Paying for property inventory reports as a landlord can become expensive. I could pay up to £415 over 12 months for my 3 bed flat with property check-in and check-out reports. This is a good incentive to do it yourself.
In this post you’ll be able to use the template I have created and follow the instructions on how to use typewritten electronic signatures with your tenants that are legally binding, hasslefree and at no cost.
What’s the purpose of a property inventory report?
For you, as a landlord, a property inventory reports is the most important piece of documentation you can have. A good property inventory report will help protect your property and prevent deposit disputes. I made the mistake of not having one in my early days of being a landlord which was an expensive lesson.
Property inventory template
The document structure I use for capturing inventory and condition is straightforward, with the following sections used throughout: Door return, Ceiling, Walls, Floor, Windows, Fixture & fittings. You can view and download a version with sample property information here and a blank property inventory template here. Here’s an example section of my property inventory report:
Getting tenants feedback
Instead of leaving a printout for your tenants to review and provide feedback. It’s easier to provide a Google Docs link (like the one above) which allows edit access for your tenants to make changes and upload their own photos. Once you and your tenants agree on the property inventory report, you can request digital signatures.
Using typewritten digital signatures
Previous property inventory reports I’ve paid for were rarely signed by the tenants which becomes an issue if there’s a dispute. Logistically it’s difficult for an inventory clerk to get signatures from tenants and letting agents can’t be bothered! Using electronic signatures is a great way to resolve this as everything is done on email which saves tons of time trying to get handwritten signatures from a printed document.
Electronic signatures are legally binding in the UK and most other countries. You’ll be pleased to know there’s no need to use expensive software like DocuSign from Adobe, we can do this for free.
The 2 main players in the freemium e-signature space are Eversign and Hellosign. I’ve tested both and it was easy to decide on a winner. Hellosign is buggy and the user experience was terrible (especially at the point of getting signatures). Eversign, however, is professionally designed and very easy for you and your tenants to use.
How to get your property inventory report digitally signed
Getting your property inventory report digitally signed is easy. Follow these simple steps:
- Go to eversign.com and create a free account
You can send 5 documents for digital signing per month with a free account.
- Upload your property inventory document for signing
You can choose whether it’s “you and others” that should be signing this document or just “others”. I don’t see any harm in the landlord signing also.
- Add signer names and email addresses
Add who needs to sign and whether you want others CCed.
- Add signers to your property inventory document
Place where you want the signers and signed date in your document (probably the last page).
- Send property inventory report to your tenants
Add your message here, there are other cool features such as auto reminders available.
- Tenants receive property inventory report to sign
Your tenants receive an email and within a couple of clicks, they can review and sign by typing their name.
And that’s everything. Once you’ve completed a property inventory report for the first time, subsequent reports for your rental property will be much easier. Please leave any questions or comments in the comments sections below.
Principles of a good property inventory report
Using the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) website as a guide, here’s a list of best practices for including in your property inventory report:
- The property inventory report should provide both an inventory of contents and a schedule of the condition of the property and its contents.
- Ideally, the property inventory check-out report should be produced by the same person who undertook the check-in.
- A check-in and check-out report should establish the standard of cleanliness at the start and end of the tenancy.
- TDS takes the view that photographs are best used as an addition to, not a substitute for the written word.
- The main body of the report should comprise a description of each room starting at the main entrance and working logically through the accommodation on each floor. Where things like appliances are mentioned, it can be useful to record makes and models.
- Utility readings should be recorded, together with a photograph of all the keys provided.
- Wording such as ‘professionally cleaned’ or ‘cleaned to a good domestic standard’ is preferable to coded abbreviations or a numbered scale.
- A check-out report following the same format as the check-in report or one that combines the check-in/check-out comments on each page provides a more straightforward means of comparing the condition of the property.
- Once again an opening summary of the standard of cleanliness and condition provides a useful overview of the property at the end of the tenancy. Utility readings should again be recorded and keys checked off.
- The tenant usually demonstrates their acceptance of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy by signing and dating the check-in report.
- The check-out report should provide by comparison an accurate view of the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy. To be considered reliable the report must be undertaken as soon as possible after the end of the tenancy. Ideally, this will be on the last day of the tenancy. It can be useful for the tenant to be present however this is not essential or required in law. A check-out report undertaken some number of days beyond the end of the tenancy may be considered less reliable as evidence.
- Some landlords find it useful to meet with their tenants shortly before they leave the property in order to remind them of their obligations and agree on any items that need attention before they leave.
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