With property inventories, all the details are critical. Essentially, it is a lack of detail that is at the heart of most mistakes in landlord inventories. This applies both to private landlords and larger public housing concerns, such as local authorities.
“An inventory report must contain a property’s full description, with details of every bit of damage,” advises Dominic Baines of No Letting Go. “This means looking at every aspect of the property, so that you present a complete picture.”
“Landlords frequently lose disputes because they fail to provide the correct evidence, or the right amount of detail to support it”
Similarly, some research suggests over a third of tenants fail to read an inventory properly at the start of a tenancy.
“A thorough property inventory can protect both landlords and tenants if it is a comprehensive, impartial document that leaves nothing out,” Dominic states.
Responsibility for communal areas in rented accommodation can be a flash-point for disputes and issues. The upkeep of these areas is something that can easily fall through the cracks, with neither party fully understanding, or willing to accept, their responsibilities.
“Obviously, it’s important that responsibility for upkeep is clear from the outset in any tenancy agreement,” says Dominic, “but it’s also vital that a record of the condition of these areas is kept.”
“Just as communal areas can be neglected in agreements, they can also end up omitted from inventories”
“How communal areas appear is essential to the whole tone of a building, and can help set a standard of upkeep within individual homes,” suggests Dominic. “Neglect of these areas, combined with lack of clarity about responsibility for looking after them, will lead to trouble further down the line.”
Not only is there the question of appearances, but also of safety.
“Post-Grenfell Tower, local authorities and landlords of larger blocks of flats are firmly in the spotlight, and besides health and safety concerns, they must demonstrate an overall commitment to upkeep. A detailed property inventory should form part of this commitment,” says Dominic.
Ignored Areas and Common Mistakes
Alongside the overall state of a property, there are frequently ignored areas that lead to common inventory mistakes.
“Landlords can overlook details such as fittings in bathrooms and kitchens when, in fact, they can amount to a considerable cost for repair. This includes kitchen units, bathroom tiles, sinks and baths”
Without proof of a check, this can all leave a landlord out of pocket.
“The most common mistake of all is to conduct your own inventory without professional guidance,” Dominic stresses
“Too many landlords rely on doing it themselves and in so doing miss the essential details, if not the whole point of the property inventory,” says Dominic.
“The two key things that should matter to all landlords, whether private or public, are thoroughness and impartiality,” concludes Dominic.
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