Tenants about to occupy a new rented property are being urged to sign an inventory before they move in to help protect their deposit.

The advice comes from The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks after a survey by money.co.uk suggested many tenants move into a property without an inventory having taken place.

The problem is most prevalent in the student rental sector, with suggestions that 79% of student tenants do not sign an inventory when they move in, with some 40% of undergraduates who rent privately not getting their full deposit back.

An inventory is a binding document that evidences the condition of a rented property, including any fixtures and fittings. Without an inventory, a tenant has no way of proving (or disproving) what damage was (or was not) sustained during the tenancy. 

"Deposit disputes often rule in favour of the landlord when an inventory is not present, even if the property was damaged or fixtures broken before the tenant moved in," comments London Residential's Head of Property Management, Priya Patel. 

"All our tenancies start with a professional inventory so both the tenant and landlord are protected. The inventory makes clear the state of repair in a property just prior to the keys being handed over to the tenant. When the tenancy ends, a 'check out' property inspection will take place and the results compared to the inventory. It will be clear to both the tenant and the landlord what, if any, damage occurred and crucially when. I'd say an inventory is the biggest factor in deposit recovery, and that's why we recommend renting through a letting agency where inventories are as standard".