Firstly, what is an inventory?
An inventory is a comprehensive list of everything included in the rental property or any outside area (included in a tenancy agreement).
A "schedule of condition" is usually part of the inventory document and it will go into detail about the condition of every item. Notes will include things such as: scratches to woodwork (length and depth), chips along the top of the radiator (number and size), cleanliness (from light dust to burnt-on grease) etc.
A "check-in report" document will be made with the tenants by the inventory clerk or landlord as they are walked through the property. It gives tenants the opportunity to agree or disagree with the inventory and schedule of condition. It also means that they accept and are bound to the document that they have signed, so it can be used as a benchmark to determine how they leave the property at the end of their tenancy.
An inventory also gives a landlord the opportunity to explain the quality of any fixture or fitting within the property. So do try to include purchase receipts and any anticipated manufacturers lifespan along with any warranties or guarantees on items.
No matter how well a place is taken care of, it is unlikely to be in exactly the same shape at the end of the lease compared to how it was at the beginning. Fixtures and fittings in a rental property will always show signs of wear and tear, which is normal and not something that can be charged for. This is called "fair wear and tear".

What exactly is fair wear and tear?
When it comes to negotiating the return of a security deposit, landlords can sometimes get "Fair Wear and Tear" (FWT) and "Tenant Misuse" mixed up. So, it's important to say that FWT is the "natural deterioration of an object or area due to age and normal use."
Any item in a rental property, such as fixtures, fittings, carpets, and decorations, has an "average useful lifespan," which means that their value will decrease over time.
This is one reason why all Hello Neighbour inventory clerks offer the professionalism needed to make an inventory and schedule of condition – that can be used to check-in a new tenant or tenants at the beginning of a tenancy. Reports should be as detailed as possible, clearly showing the quality of all items and any marks, scuffs, or signs of age. If possible, it should also list the make and date of purchase for each item, so that their "average useful lifespan" can be easily determined and the cost of repair or replacement can be calculated at the end of a tenancy.

What is a "good inventory"?
In short, an inventory report should be detailed, unbiased and professional. It should contain good quality photos of anything that needs to be explained in more detail or to show any marks (typically alongside a small ruler or pen/pencil for size comparison). The more information included in the inventory report the better. 

Fortunately, Hello Neighbour see inventory reports as integral to a successful letting experience. It's the reason why we include inventory check-in services as standard – for no extra fees – as part of our Tenant Find packages.

What happens at the end of the tenancy?
As soon as the tenancy is over, the check-out should be carried out, either on the same day as a tenant hands over the keys – and they can be present – or the day after. The check-out should use the original documents and your regular property periodic visit reports, listing any changes made to the property, redecoration or item replacement that has happened during the tenancy.