A property will never be in the same condition at the end of a tenancy as it was when it was first let. Wear and tear to carpets, flooring, fixtures, fittings and decorations will have taken place even if the tenant has looked after the property well.
Landlords should allow for fair wear and tear and tenants will normally be liable for breakages, missing items, or damage to the property which is in excess of fair wear and tear. This could be deliberate damage, poor maintenance or not reporting issues timeously.

At the outset of a tenancy a full inventory should be compiled. The condition of the property should be recorded as well as any fixtures, fittings, contents and decoration, and with relevant meter readings immediately before the tenancy starts. This is usually called the “check in”.

The tenant should agree the check in Inventory by signing a copy of it. The landlord should provide a copy of the inventory to the tenant and allow then seven days to note any snagging points. The tenant would be responsibility for noticing any differences and returning the amended document to the landlord. If the tenant does not provide the landlord with an amended document the landlord can assume that the tenant has agreed with the original one.

At the end of the tenancy, the condition of the property should be recorded as well as any fixtures, fittings, contents, decoration, relevant meter readings taken and should be compared to the starting inventory. This is usually called the “check-out”. Ideally a landlord should perform a pre end of tenancy visit and using the inventory as a guide provide a list of points to the tenant that they would like addressing before the end of the tenancy. This allows the tenant adequate time to put any matters right themselves before the check out.

The tenant should agree to the check-out inventory by signing a copy of it.

It is important that the inventory process is done properly – landlords and tenants (as well as anyone involved in legal proceedings if that happens) need to be able to compare the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy. Recording any changes in condition will help identify what changes have taken place and who should be responsible for them.

The Inventory should be thorough and clear as the person who starts the tenancy (e.g. agency or landlord) is not necessarily the person who will be there at the end so the documents should be clear and concise.

What should check in and check out reports cover?
The check-in report should provide both an inventory of contents and a schedule of the condition of the property (both internally and externally, not forgetting gardens, yards and out buildings) and its contents at the start of the tenancy.
The check-out report should identify any deterioration in the condition of the property during the tenancy.

Photographs should be taken to back up a written report, photographs should not be used as alone as they will not provide sufficient evidence to support a landlord should they need to make a claim. There should be floor to ceiling photographs taken of each room including all walls, ceiling fixtures, any obvious marks on the flooring/walls etc., sockets, light switched and windows.

Photographs of the outside of the property should also be taken including the garden, any hedges or shrubs, stair cases, fences and paths. A photo of the outside of the property, including roof should be taken. This includes the front, back and side of the property.

Any unusual objects should be recorded such as garden statues, ponds, unusual light fittings, electric fire places etc.

Check in and out report content

General description of the property – including the property, contents, conditions, cleanliness and overall standard.

Main body of report – this should contain a detailed description of each room starting at the front, to the back of the property. Including make and model of the boiler, how many sockets there are, light fixtures, colour and quality of carpet, colour and count of tiles.
The check-out report should follow the same format and be comparable to the check in report.

When should the reports be done?
The check in report should ideally be done and ready for the day the tenant moves in so they can look around the property themselves and agree to the report. The check-out report should be done ideally in the last few days of the tenancy so it is
accurate at the hand over. It should be done prior to any works or cleaning be done by the landlord and should show how the tenant left the property. This can be supported by photographs.