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Vanessa Warwick Landlord and Co-Founder of PropertyTribes.com **If you have got value from Property Tribes, find out how you can support it in remaining a free to use community resource**
Another salutary reminder about the importance of mid-term property inspections:A landlord has discovered 'more than 10,000 beer cans' dumped in his rental property in Dublin.Full/source story
Independent inventory reports cost as little as £1.50 a week over the course of a 12-month tenancy, so why aren’t all landlords investing in the greatest assurance to their investments?For most reasonable landlords and letting agents, the idea of letting out a property without a deposit seems unfathomable and outright stupid. Handing the keys to a new tenant without any money on account for damages leaves a landlord and their most valuable asset at risk and vulnerable.Daniel Zane, Chair of the AIIC (Association for Independent Inventory Clerks) stresses that this is exactly what happens when a new tenancy is not accompanied by an independently compiled inventory report carried out by a professional, impartial inventory clerk. Zane suggests that letting a property without an independent inventory report in place is no different to handing the keys to a stranger without any deposit in place. When inventory reports are not in place at the start of tenancy’s, if there is a need for deductions at the end of the tenancy there will be absolutely no proof to back up the deductions required. Without independent inventory reports, landlords are out in the dark and have to rely on luck with regards to the reliability of an individual tenant and their willingness to put right any damages, leaving the landlord with little to no control over the condition of their property.
Zane is clear that an inventory report must be carried out by an independent third-party inventory clerk in order to carry any weight in a tenancy dispute and therefore ensure the recovery of costs for a landlord. Zane explains that many landlords are unaware that an independent, professionally compiled inventory report will costs as little at £1.50 per week over the course of a 12-month tenancy agreement, which is a small cost when compared to the savings it can ensure. With years of experience in the lettings industry, Zane is constantly amazed by the number of landlords that still embark on new tenancies without such assurances in place, putting their finances and their properties at risk.
The AIIC regulates all independent inventory clerks in the UK, ensuring that the inventories landlords commission from an AIIC regulated inventory clerk are both impartial and thorough and act to protect the landlord's investment and the integrity of the tenancy.
As Landlords and Property Managers it has always been our standard operating practice to arrange and pay for an Inventory Check-In using a third party/independent specialist Inventory company. The Tenants have also been (contractually) obliged to arrange and pay for the Inventory Check-Out with the same company at the end of their tenancy.
For the most part this has worked very well, and as the genuinely independent Inventory company is impartially representing BOTH parties it has created a fair and equitable report on which deductions can be based.
With the new Tenant Fees ban coming into force it is my understanding that we will not be able to (contractually) impose the cost of the Inventory Check-Out on the tenants (someone please correct me if I am wrong about this).
This means that the Landlord will have to pay for the Inventory Check-In AND the Check-Out.
As the Inventory company, no matter how independent, will only be acting for one party rather than both parties this may have a big effect on the impartiality of the service they provide i.e. they are working solely for the Landlord as their Client.
Furthermore, if the Landlord is paying for both the Check-In and the Check-Out why even use an independent Inventory company at all?
Larger landlords and property managers could use employed staff to create both the Check-In and the Check-Out report and simply list the issues/deductions as they see fit.
Perhaps I am jumping to too many conclusions and reading too much into the Fees ban but there are likely to be some unintended consequences.
" Furthermore, if the Landlord is paying for both the Check-In and the Check-Out why even use an independent Inventory company at all? "Totally agree.I would also question why LLs's don't visit their properties regularly. Just this week I found an outside tap dripping (more like streaming) on the decking which the tenant hadn't spotted/didn't care about. It was only that I was there to clean out the filters on the tumble drier that I noticed and can now do something about it.
It's a trained eye and nose that can spot problems in a house, probably before the tenant even notices.
You are correct - the TFB does not allow you to charge a tenant directly for the check-in/out report. Instead you will need to increase the rent to cover the cost (so £13/month = 2 * £1.50/week). The TFB also makes it illegal for you to drop the rent after you have recovered the cost of the banned fees so it is going to cost the tenants more i the long term (assuming they stay past the fixed term).
I have used an inventory company once. Every item of the furniture that they listed (they didn't include everything) was listed as new. Only the beds were new and I nearly didn't put several of the items in as I didn't think they were good enough. None of the (admittedly minor) damage on any item was included. I had to spend hours correcting the report. It would have been quicker to generate my own report from scratch on my laptop rather than editing the paper copy (which is all the letting agent would give me).
These companies don't check on the non-visible side of the mattresses, or look behind furniture either!