Inventories and deposits tend to go together. Again, these are things that not all lodger landlords will bother with. However, when letting a stranger into your house, there is no harm in being careful.
A deposit is a payment taken for the landlord to hold against any damage to the property or breakages. If when the lodger leaves, things are in good condition and there are no rent arrears, the money should be returned.
Lodger landlords are in a better position than landlords of properties rented out to tenants under assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs). There are now regulations requiring AST landlords to protect all deposits with >> a government authorised tenancy deposit scheme. However as a lodger does not have a tenancy, any deposit taken does not need to be protected.
Even if the lodger does somehow acquire a tenancy, the deposit still won’t need to be protected (so long as you are still living in the property), as tenancies with resident landlords cannot be ASTs.
However, even though a deposit may not need to be protected in a government scheme, this does not mean you should not take care of it. It is best to put it in a separate account, so you won’t be tempted to spend it. Remember – it’s not your money!
If you take a deposit, you need a way to check the condition of the room and contents when the lodger leaves against the condition they were in when he moved in (see Day 21). This is where inventories come in.
An inventory is a detailed list of all the contents of a property, including details of its condition. For a lodger situation it is probably a bit ‘over the top’ to prepare an inventory of the whole house or flat (or such parts of it as the lodger has access to). However, it is a good idea to have an inventory for the lodgers own room.
If you decide to do an inventory, you need to make a list of all (and I mean all) the contents of the room. This includes things such as
- all furniture,
- duvets and pillows,
- any electrical items (e.g. bedside lamp),
- light shades, etc
Many inventories also include details of immovable things such as
- window frames
- light fittings, etc.
You should say a bit about each item, such as ‘good condition’, ‘new’, or ‘scratch on right-hand drawer’. You can also take photographs (or even a video), but use these as well as, rather than instead of, a written record. Keep receipts for all items purchased or repaired, just in case.
When the lodger comes to sign the lodger agreement (Day 15), you should show him around his room and check the inventory with him. He will need to agree it – if you spot anything not on it (another scratch perhaps) make sure this gets written in. Then you and the lodger need to sign the inventory (one copy each), to confirm that it is agreed by you both. It should then be attached to the lodger agreement (one for each of you).
If you use photos, these should also be signed and dated (to prove that they are not pictures created at a later date), with copies for each of you, and also kept with the paper-work. Be careful with photos, if you use them. Judges and arbitrators often say that they are useless, as they are frequently unclear, out of focus, with nothing to show the scale. A picture of a scratch on its own could be anywhere.