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Step by Step Guide About the Check In Inventory

Table of Contents
property management

Key Summary

  • Check-in inventory documents property condition at tenancy start.
  • UK law doesn’t mandate inventories, but they’re beneficial.
  • Process includes property inspection, item listing, and photographic evidence.
  • Both landlord and tenant should review and sign the inventory.
  • Inventory helps avoid disputes and clarifies tenant-landlord responsibilities.

What is a Check-in Inventory?

The check-in inventory is a systematic documentation of the condition, contents, and cleanliness of a property at the beginning of a tenancy. Simply put, it’s the visual proof of the state of the property when a tenant moves in. This evidence acts as a baseline for the beginning of a new tenancy, enabling comparisons to be made when it concludes.

Ultimately, it aims to provide an accurate snapshot of the property’s condition, down to the smallest details, from the state of the carpets to the functionality of appliances. The check-in inventory typically takes place on the day the tenant moves in, ensuring the document reflects the property’s condition right before possession.

Is it Mandatory?

In the UK, it is not a legal requirement to carry out a check-in inventory. Landlords and letting agents are often inclined to draft one however, and it is a useful tool for both the landlord and the tenant.

​​Top Tip: Always prioritise the check-in inventory at a new tenancy. It’s a snapshot of the property’s start condition and helps prevent end-of-tenancy disputes.

The check-in inventory provides clarity, lessens the chance for disputes over potential damages, and ensures that all involved are on the same page concerning property conditions. Although not a legal obligation, having an inventory aids in maintaining a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship by reducing ambiguities about responsibilities.

Check-in Inventory Process

Understanding the check-in inventory process is a pivotal part of renting out a property, both for tenants and landlords alike. Serving as the benchmark for the property’s state at tenancy commencement, this procedure plays a vital role in keeping disputes at bay. 

Let’s take a closer look at what the process typically looks like:

1. Property Inspection

property inspection

The first step, property inspection, is where the groundwork is laid out. An inspector evaluates the entire property, scrutinising the walls for signs of marks or damage, as well as the ceilings for leaks and cracks. The condition of the floors, whether carpeted, tiled, or wooden, is also closely assessed for any signs of wear or damage. 

Additionally, the inspector ensures that window panes, latches, and sills are in optimal condition. Fixtures, including faucets, lights, and handles, are tested rigorously. Utilities like electricity, gas, and water are also switched on and off to confirm their seamless operation and ensure that they are in working order, which is an important landlord responsibility.

Key Points:

  • Inspector involved
  • Walls, ceilings, and floors assessed 
  • Windowpane checks
  • Fixture operability tests
  • Utility functionality checked

Did You Know? Most check-out disputes between landlords and tenants revolve around cleaning issues and property damage, highlighting the importance of a check-in inventory that provides a clear baseline from the start.

2. Item Listing

item listing

Going beyond the structure, the inventory also covers the contents of the property. An exhaustive list detailing every item within the property is compiled noting details such as the age, material, type, and condition of furniture to testing and listing appliances like refrigerators and ovens.

Soft furnishings, such as curtains and drapes, are checked for any wear, damages, or cleanliness issues. Even the small details such as the number of utensils in the kitchen or the condition of decorative items, find their place in this extensive list.

Key Points: 

  • Exhaustive content listing
  • Furniture condition details
  • Appliance function checks
  • Soft furnishing assessments
  • Decorative item conditions

3. Photographic Evidence

photographic evidence

High-definition photos or videos of each room and item are captured, providing a timestamped visual testimony of their state. Close-up shots, particularly of any pre-existing damages or signs of wear, act as irrefutable evidence, offering clarity and precision to the inventory.

Key Points:

  • High-definition photos/videos
  • Timestamped visual records
  • Close-up damage shots

4. Document Preparation

document preparation

Upon gathering all necessary details, the next step involves structuring and presenting this data. A formal, comprehensive inventory check-in report is compiled documenting all of the details captured during the inspection, providing a comprehensive overview of the property and its condition. Often, there can be inventory video footage compiled too to further reinforce the report findings.  

Key Points:

  • Structured, formal report
  • Combines written and photographic details

5. Tenant Walk-through

tenant walk-through

In this step, the landlord or agent shows the tenant around the property. They compare the actual condition of the place to what’s written in the inventory report. This walk-through allows the tenant to ask questions, point out any mistakes in the report, and make sure both sides agree on the property’s state.

Key Points:

  • A guided tour of the property with the tenant
  • Comparing the property to the inventory report
  • Answering questions and fixing any report mistakes

6. Signatures


At the end of the inventory process, both the tenant and the landlord need to agree. Once the tenant is okay with what’s in the inventory, both the tenant and landlord sign the paper. This signed paper becomes very important as it shows the property’s condition at the start of the rent period.

Key Points:

  • Both sides agree.
  • Both tenant and landlord sign.
  • Important paper for the property’s starting condition.

Tips for a Successful Check-in Inventory

Navigating the check-in inventory process can be daunting, especially for those new to the rental landscape. The following tips are designed to guide both landlords and tenants to a seamless inventory experience.

1. Engage in Thorough Inspection

It’s important to be meticulous during the inspection process, whether you’re a tenant or a landlord. Dedicate adequate time to go through each section of the property, and don’t overlook the minute details. Even seemingly insignificant imperfections like a minor scratch on the wall or a slightly worn carpet edge can escalate into contentious issues later on.

2. Cross-check Against Past Inventories (if available)

For properties with a rental history, comparing the current inventory with prior ones can provide insights. This cross-reference ensures consistency, highlights recurring issues, and aids in spotting any damages or aspects previously overlooked.

3. Use Technology

In this digital age, numerous property inventory apps can assist in streamlining the process. They offer features allowing users to easily document conditions, capture and annotate photos, and maintain a consolidated record. Leveraging such tools can make the process more efficient and less prone to human error.

4. Check Before You Sign

Before you finalise the inventory, ensure that you thoroughly review every detail of the document. This is the definitive record of the property’s condition at the start of the tenancy, so it’s crucial that it’s accurate. If there are any discrepancies or inconsistencies between the actual condition and the document, it’s essential to raise and rectify them before signing.

5. Stay Collaborative

Open communication is the cornerstone of a smooth check-in process. It’s beneficial for both parties—the landlord and the tenant—to maintain a transparent dialogue throughout. Engaging in a joint walkthrough of the property promotes this transparency and allows for real-time discussions, helping minimise potential disputes.

6. Seek Expertise if Unsure

If the inventory process seems overwhelming or you’re uncertain about certain items’ condition, it might be a wise decision to consult professionals. Expert inventory clerks or companies are well-versed in this domain and can offer an unbiased, detailed assessment, ensuring that nothing is overlooked.

7. Keep a Copy

After finalising and signing the inventory, always retain a copy for your records. Having both digital backups and hard copies ensures you’re adequately prepared for any future references or disputes.

Check-in Inventory Cost

Inventory check in costs can start from as little as £109 a basic report on an unfurnished, 1 bedroom flat which covers on-site inventory and check-in preparation, document generation, tenant check-in, and subsequent check-out at tenancy’s end. The cost of your inventory will vary depending on location, property size, and the type of service selected.

Who Pays For the Check-in Inventory?

Determining who foots the bill for the inventory check-in fee is a matter of negotiation. As both the landlord and tenant stand to benefit from an accurate report, it’s commonly advised that costs be shared. Some arrangements see the landlord covering the check-in, with the tenant taking up the check-out costs, or vice-versa. Ultimately, open communication and agreement are key.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often is a check-in inventory required?

Each time a new tenancy begins, a new inventory check-in report should be generated.

What is the checkout process, and how does it relate to the check-in inventory?

The checkout process involves reviewing the property’s condition at the end of the tenancy and comparing it to the state documented in the check-in inventory. Any differences, apart from regular wear and tear, may influence the return of the security deposit. The check-in inventory thus serves as a baseline for this comparison, ensuring fairness for both tenants and landlords.

What if there's a disagreement on the inventory?

Tenants are given a stipulated period (usually seven days) to review and raise objections. If disputes persist, third-party mediation or the deposit protection scheme’s adjudication service can be sought.

Is there an inventory check-in fee apart from the cost?

The fee often encompasses all services related to the inventory process, however, some providers might charge additional fees for expedited services or additional visits.


Having an inventory check-in is an important part of the rental process for both a landlord and a tenant. Although it is not a legal requirement in the UK, the inventory check-in helps protect both the tenant and the landlord. Writing down the property’s condition helps to avoid disagreements, and makes the end of a tenancy a smoother experience. 

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