The government has proposed a possible ban on letting agents’ fees to tenants. This is against a background of increasing numbers of disputes between landlords and tenants. For many landlords and letting agents there is a feeling that they are being painted as villains, which then justifies any squeeze on their finances.
One action they can take to tackle disputes effectively, and to help prevent them in the first place, is to ensure they commission an independent inventory when taking on new tenants.
“There are landlords who, despite the work involved, will typically want to conduct their own inventory of a rental property,” remarks Dominic Baines, regional director of property inventory specialists No Letting Go.
“There may a temptation to see this as a means of saving money, but it can prove to be very costly,” Dominic warns.
“In the event of a dispute, the inventory is the most important piece of evidence. But only if it is an impartial, professional document”
“If you get a professional, independent inventory, then there is less likelihood of it being disputed,” Dominic points out. “We conduct a full cycle of work, consisting of a check-in inventory, two interim property visits, followed by check-out. This is for a one-year tenancy. Longer, and you’ll require regular visits three to six months apart.”
Check-in inventory reports, plus interim inspections, are the main evidence that adjudicators consider in disputes over a property conditions. In the event of such disputes, landlords and letting agents must produce compelling evidence. This is exactly what independent inventory reports can become.
The Importance of Clarity
“Clarity can be an enormous help in establishing a good relationship between landlord and tenant from the start,” explains Dominic. “A comprehensive inventory benefits all parties because it notes the condition and cleanliness of a property.”
“If landlord conduct their own inventories then they are open to interpretation,” Dominic says. “It can also suggest to the tenant that they’ll be automatically on the losing end if there’s a dispute. This can then set up a relationship between tenant and landlord to fail, because the trust isn’t there.”
There is no legal obligation for landlords to obtain an independent inventory, but, providing it includes all the necessary details, it is a powerful tool when it comes to establishing relationships and, should these break down, settling disputes.
“It all comes back to what decisions you make at the start of a tenancy,” Dominic concludes, “because a comprehensive inventory, including a schedule of condition, that’s truly impartial, will help make sure you protect your assets.”