Due to the continued growth of the Letting Industry and the rise in Landlord - Tenant disputes, and, with the introduction of the Tenant Deposit Scheme (TDS) in 2007, a need for quality, independent, inventory inspections and reports is more important than ever.
We use a very simple and accurate method of describing a property, its condition and contents using plain language. The clerk simply walks around the property and describes what he or she sees. This method is unrivalled and makes reports accurate and fast to produce, easy and quick to read and understand. We use no industry jargon or difficult to understand abbreviations like many of our competitors. We use the latest Voice Dictation software and Digital Voice Recorders which enable clerks to deliver reports very quickly, typically half the time that some competitors take. Click here to see an example.
Having this quality of service becomes important to our clients at the end of a tenancy. Often, disputes can arise over seemingly trivial matters concerning the condition of a property and its contents. Sometimes it is just a disagreement over what constitutes "fair wear and tear", sometimes responsibility for damages are disputed. It is impossible to assess these issues without a definitive statement of the condition of the property before and after the tenancy - the Inventory together with a Check In report and the Check Out report.
These documents are the main evidence used in dispute resolution by TDS adjudicators, and landlords may find it difficult to claim against a deposit if an independent inventory has not been prepared at the tenancy outset.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme Guidance Notes on Disputes states that good detailed evidence at the start of a dispute case, plus a few photographs to back it up, helps to win cases. However, according to The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), of which Property Inventory Services is a member, glossy presentation with photographs and video is being used to replace essential written descriptions in inventories at both check-in and check-out, leaving landlords exposed to potentially costly disputes over wear and tear.
An increasing number of landlords and property professionals are using photography and video evidence in tenancy deposit dispute cases. Landlords and letting agents are now beginning to see that clear evidence is needed, if they want to withhold all or part of their deposits.
Pat Barber, Chair of The AIIC, comments: "It is good to see that landlords are trying to provide the most detailed evidence they can, but a thorough and detailed inventory will provide the best evidence in a potential dispute. Photographs and video can provide good illustration, but are not at all helpful without a detailed inventory.
"There is no point in producing a picture book for an inventory with very little proper description and hundreds of photographs - inventories like these just do not provide enough detail. Photography and video are great for large areas of damage such as carpet burns, serious damage to worktops and interior décor etc. However, they are not so good for showing really fine detail - the sort of problems that occur most frequently on a check out, such as small chips and scratches in sinks and baths, knife marks on worktops, scratches to halogen hobs. All of which, will cause financial loss to the landlord if negligence cannot be proved.
"We have seen some excellent inventories with the right balance of detail, supported by photography and video. But, more often than not, the photographs submitted in inventories are little larger than thumbnails and hence make it extremely difficult to see detail. To back up a damage issue, photographs need to be of a reasonable size so that the damage can be actually seen clearly. A glossy inventory that relies heavily on photographs will be of little use in a dispute."
In a recent dispute, a landlord had supplied his tenant with a photographic style inventory at check in. Since none of these were dated and no other written evidence was produced the tenant won his case and the landlord had to fund some expensive replacements.
Inventory reports should contain a full description of a property and its contents with detail on every bit of damage and its exact location at the start of a tenancy. This can be supported with photographs and video - but the photographs need to be of a high quality when printed, so that any damage can be seen clearly.