What is the difference between a home inventory report and a check-in?
An inventory report lists the rooms in a property, their conditions and items using photographs and descriptions and should be as detailed as possible. The completed report is then sent to the Landlord or Letting Agent.
The check-in report should provide both an inventory of contents and details of the condition of the property and its contents at the beginning of the tenancy. Some check-in reports add a clause to state that all items are in good condition unless stated otherwise. However, a well-completed check-in report such as provided by Trust Inventory is considered to describe the condition and contents of each room in turn.
At Trust Inventory, our inventory clerks go through the whole inventory list at the check-in. This involves checking every door, every wall and so forth. At the end of the check-in, the tenant will sign the report.
Condition is not the same as cleanliness.
A check-in report that only details the condition of the property does not consider the standard of cleanliness at the start of the tenancy. Although the check-out report may list cleaning issues at the end of the tenancy, if the check-in report details only the condition, the adjudicator will be unable to ascertain if the property’s cleanliness had deteriorated during the tenancy.
A well-written check-in and check-out report provides a level of detail and understanding that cannot be matched by using other methods such as photographs or video alone. An album of photographs or a lengthy video can be easy to produce but will not be of much use in resolving a dispute in the absence of a detailed, written report. Photographs are therefore best used as an addition to and not a substitute for the written word.
The advantages of photographs are that they can provide a great overview of a property; demonstrate the condition of a garden; illustrate any unusual items such as ornaments, antiques and so forth; record marks, scratches, damage although this can be difficult to photograph well.
The disadvantages of photographs are that it is not possible to photograph every angle of a property, so photographs are unlikely to be a substitution for the written word; photographs are not always helpful to identify issues such as cleanliness, dirt or dust. If not photographed well, it can be difficult to highlight scale or perspective; digital photographs can be altered and therefore may not be considered as reliable.
For photographs to be considered useful as evidence, they should be of good quality and are best implemented into the check-in/check-out report as we do at Trust Inventory. This is because an adjudicator will want to be satisfied that the photographs are of the property in question and when the photographs were taken.
Photographs are most beneficial when used as supplementary evidence when used to demonstrate a ‘before and after’ comparison, for example to show the amount of damage to flooring, furniture or kitchen worktop.
The check-in is not compulsory. However, it does provide additional peace of mind to all parties involved. The Landlord will receive a signed document with everything included for their own records so that they do not have to do anything further. The tenant will receive a document with their comments and photographs included for their own records and also do not have to do anything further.