The importance of inventories and deposits when letting your property

Cleaning is by far the biggest reason for tenancy deposit disputes, occurring in over 50% of cases. However, a recent survey by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme showed that most landlords and letting agents are being awarded less than the amount they claim in cleaning disputes because they are not providing the right evidence. Landlords need to justify deductions made from a deposit, so what evidence would an adjudicator need if it was disputed?


An adjudicator needs to know that the property was less clean at the end of the tenancy than at the start. The best evidence from the start is a check-in report consisting of an inventory and schedule of condition, and referring to the state of cleanliness. If cleanliness is not mentioned, an adjudicator can’t assume the property was clean. Remember: ‘condition’ is not the same as ‘cleanliness’ – something in good condition can be unclean and vice versa.


This will show the condition at the end of the tenancy and is most useful for the adjudicator if it corresponds directly to the check-in report, allowing for an accurate comparison of condition.


Justify the amount you are claiming with invoices or quotes for the work needed. Without these an adjudicator will have to use their own judgement as to how much the work would cost. Remember: the tenant is only bound to return the property in its condition at the start of tenancy, so if it was not professionally clean at the start then the adjudicator may not award the full cost of a professional clean at the end.

Photos and videos are generally not useful in cleaning disputes unless referring to an individual item such as a cooker. They do not give the clearest description of the property and there may be no way to tell where or when the photo was taken. Images should always be signed, dated, and supported by written evidence.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is the longest established provider of deposit protection in the UK, and adjudicates in over 10,000 disputes between landlords and tenants every year.

Examples, case studies, and guidance for tenancy deposit disputes are available on their website –

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