In short, the schedule of condition is a formal, objective record of the condition of a residential property. It is detailed and itemised and usually takes the place of an inventory, such as when the landlord refuses to put together an inventory.
The benefit of a schedule of condition is that it gives the tenant some peace of mind and can be completed at the beginning or the end of the tenancy. It is carried out by an independent third party and covers the state the property is in, notes meter readings, and lists keys and any other important information.
When drawn up at the beginning of a tenancy, it can be included within the lease to be referred to in the future and is intended to limit the obligation of the tenant with regard to repairs.
The inventory is a fairly standard document agreed and shared at the start of a tenancy agreement. With the advent of property inventory software, there is no reason that a landlord should not have one in place with each new tenant. An expert such as Inventory Base property inventory software providers can talk through the systems and how they work so that no tenancy ends without an inventory report.
If the tenancy comes to an end and there is no inventory to be found, a check-out schedule of condition can be written. This serves a similar purpose, although obviously it offers no comparison with the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy agreement. The schedule can be used as evidence when it comes to determining the proportion of the deposit to be returned to the tenant.
The schedule can consist of a written account or a collection of photographs, or both. Either on their own can miss details; for example, a photograph alone only captures what is in the frame and cannot show issues such as movement in the building or damp just out of shot.
More information about the schedule of condition is available online.
Whether there is a schedule or an inventory, you are avoiding a lot of potential issues as the tenant or the landlord by documenting the property and agreeing the paperwork, ideally at the start of the tenancy or as soon as you realise there is nothing in place.