What is a picture worth? For detailed property inventories, photographic evidence adds crucial, visual supporting evidence.
Assumptions and Authentication
“Simply snapping away at your property both before and after a tenancy then submitting the photographs as evidence, even with documentation, may not be enough,” explains Dominic.
“Camera-imprinted dates on photographs, submitted as part of an inventory risk, being rejected by the adjudicator because the dates will not serve as proof, since they can be altered before submission”
In other words, you cannot assume that photographic evidence on its own will be sufficient.
“Evidence has to have context,” Dominic explains, “which means finding the means to authenticate them that will be beyond dispute.”
Reinforcing the diligent nature of evidence-gathering for inventories of a professional standard, Dominic suggests that printing out photographs and getting the tenant to countersign them is one way of authenticating them.
“A truly impartial inventory is there to protect both the landlord and tenant, so it’s in the interest of both parties that accurate inventory photos are supplied, and authenticated, at the check-in stage”
Another method is to take photographs, or a video, of the property with the tenant present and with their image included.
A comprehensive inventory form should accompany the pictures, authenticated by the tenant, detailing the number of images and their subject matter.
“This sounds quite paperwork-heavy, but it’s belt and braces stuff,” Dominic remarks. “In the end, the object is to avoid disputes where possible. And if a dispute arises, the inventory must be robust enough to stand as clear evidence.”
Quality and Purpose
Adjudicators do not require high quality photographic evidence, but they do want clarity. This means that while inventory photographs need not be studio quality, they do need to demonstrate their purpose.
“Remember when you submit your inventory that adjudicators don’t want to sit through artfully shot videos, or sift through photographs that are not relevant to the dispute,” Dominic advises.
The photos should be integral to the inventory report as evidence of condition. The landlord must prove their entitlement to the tenant deposit and provide the supporting evidence.
“Don’t risk making the wrong assumptions about your evidence and inventory,” Dominic concludes.