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Protect Yourself

Inventories can be a bit of a contentious question, as to whether or not they are necessary when letting a property. A lot of our landlords see them produced at the start of every tenancy, and check-out reports at the end. Only for them to return the deposit to the tenant in full, as they have returned the property in the same condition it was received in. These landlords start to question why these reports are necessary, with good reason. If everyone was an ideal tenant and no damage ever occurred, property inventory companies would fast go out of business. However, this is not always the case, and some tenants are less than ideal. In addition to this, the question remains; without a proper report, how can we be sure the property is in the same condition?

The crucial point behind getting an inventory produced before the commencement of a tenancy and a check-out report produced at the end is that the landlord and the tenant (and the agent) know exactly how the property looked before the commencement of the tenancy; and how it looked when they departed. This means, for the most part, there can be little doubt as to whether items were damaged, removed, changed, or improved over the course of the tenancy. This means different things for landlord and tenant, but the main point here is protection.

As a landlord, you know that by having a full record of the condition of the property, your investment is protected from damage, as you have a fairly concrete piece of evidence to show that a loss has been suffered (in the event it is). In order to recover any losses from a deposit, the landlord must prove that they are entitled to it (unless the tenant agrees). These two reports form a strong basis to any deposit claim.

As a tenant, you know that the landlord will not be able to make any suggestions that the property was in any better condition when you moved in than it was, or any worse condition when you moved out. For the most part, this isn’t important, as the majority of landlords are good and decent people. But, it can provide great peace of mind to know that you are protected. If there is any dispute or disagreement over proposed deductions from the landlord, you can turn straight to this piece of evidence to prove your point.

The question remains for landlords (and agents), whether it is best to carry out inventories yourself or to have them produced by a professional. At Brighton Accommodation Agency, we carry out our mid-term inspections with our own staff, but the opening inventory and closing check-out are always produced by a professional. Money can be saved by bringing things in-house, but there are two very important things to consider. Firstly, those professional inventory clerks are carrying out these checks all year round and as such have an eye for detail that takes a long time to train. This ensures their reports are as accurate as possible. Secondly, that incredible piece of evidence loses a lot of its weight, if there is any potential for bias. With the landlord producing their own report, even if they have been as honest as possible, a question of whether areas are exaggerated will still hang over the document.

Another strong point to consider is photographs. A decent inventory report should have plenty, they should be clear, and time-stamped if possible. They say a picture speaks a thousand words and in nowhere is this truer. These photographs show everything in full detail. Professional inventories contain a lot of clear photos, with text to back them up. They also have as much detail and information as is necessary, which is often missed by those looking to take a more DIY approach.

As I’m sure any reader here can tell, we think inventory reports are excellent, and a crucial step at the beginning of any let. Professional reports provide the best protection to everyone involved and really are worth their weight in gold. In fact, they are almost as valuable as good tenants!

If you’d like to know more about this article or to discuss your thoughts, please get in touch to lettings@baagency.co.uk.

If you’re looking for a professional inventory service, we work closely with Pure Inventories and you can contact Sarah at info@pureinventories.com.

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