When you move in to a new home, make sure there's a detailed inventory which you agree with. If something is already broken or dirty when you move in but it isn't written on the inventory, you could end up having to pay for it when you move out.

What is an inventory?

An inventory is a list of everything in the property when you move in (for example, furniture, décor, fixtures and fitting, etc.) and the condition they're in (for example, 'brand new, never used', 'small iron burn on living room carpet', 'black mould between shower tiles', etc.).

Why do I need an inventory?

The inventory is really important because you and the landlord need to be able to compare the condition and cleanliness of the property when you moved in and moved out. If anything in the property was already broken or dirty when you moved in, the inventory can prove you're not responsible for it.

If the landlord wants to deduct money from your deposit for anything which you think isn't your fault, you can choose to use your tenancy deposit scheme's adjudication service. This means the scheme will ask you and the landlord for more information about the tenancy. If you have a detailed inventory, you can provide this to the scheme as evidence. An independent adjudicator will decide how the deposit should be repaid based on the information provided.

What should I do with the inventory?

You should be given an inventory when you move in by your landlord or letting agent.

From the 31st January 2018 The Letting Agent Code of Practice (Scotland) Regulations 2016 came into force on 31 January 2018 and applies to everyone who carries out letting agency work in Scotland. Included in this code of practice is new rules about the inventory.

"Where an inventory and schedule of condition is produced, you and the tenant must both sign the inventory confirming it is correct."

You can read the full Letting Agent Code of Practice on the Scottish Government's website.

It's important that you carefully compare the property to what's written in the inventory and add written comments if you think any of the information is missing or wrong. Detail is key. Condition and cleanliness should be clearly described - for example, a microwave might work, but it could be stained and dirty.

After you have added your comments, you and your landlord should double-check the inventory to check you're both happy with the final version, then you should both sign it.

The Letting Agent code of Practices states that a letting agents "must take reasonable steps to remind the tenant to sign and return the inventory. If the tenant does not, you must inform them, in writing, that you will nevertheless regard it as correct."

It is very important for tenants to participate with the check in process. Doing so could vastly decrease the chance of a dispute at the end of the tenancy and lead to faster repayments.

You should keep a copy of the inventory in a safe place, because you may need it as evidence for the tenancy deposit scheme after you move out.

What should I do if my landlord or letting agent doesn't give me an inventory?

If your landlord or letting agent won't provide you with an inventory, Shelter Scotland have a sample inventory form so you can record the contents and condition of the property yourself.

After you have completed the form, you should show it to your landlord or letting agent and ask them to sign it.

Remember to keep a copy in a safe place.

As a tenant if you believe that your letting agent has not carried out their responsibilities as set out in the legislation and they do not provide you with an inventory you should approach the First Tier Tribunal.

What is fair wear and tear?

Your landlord or letting agent can't charge you for 'fair wear and wear'. This is damage caused by day-to-day, normal use of the property. For example, a carpet will eventually get worn down by people walking on it. If something isn't in the same condition when you move out compared to what's on the inventory, it's important to consider if it's because of damage or fair wear and tear.

We have more information on fair wear and tear in another blog post.