Recommending a claim on a tenant’s deposit – Whose responsibility is it?

If we go back to basics, the role of an inventory clerk is to accurately record the condition and cleanliness of a property at the start and end of a tenancy.  It is an independent view of the property and the items within it only and most inventory companies have a disclaimer that remind the reader that they are not experts or valuers. So whilst it may seem like it is providing a service, we would argue that it is overstepping the role of an inventory clerk to provide recommendations for the landlords to claim against a tenants’ deposit.  It is highly unlikely, and probably inappropriate, if an inventory clerk had intimate knowledge of the cost and age of all the items within a specific property.  Being independent is not just a word it has a meaning.  This is why it is usual that the landlord(s) pays for the inventory/check-in and the tenant(s) pay for the check-out.  That also provides for impartiality. Often agents provide the role of an inventory clerk (however that’s another story for another time!!)  but are they any better positioned at suggesting amounts for a landlord to claim?  Surely, isn’t it only the landlord(s) who is totally aware of the items within the property and their age and cost? And isn’t it the agent’s job to guide the landlord(s) into allowing the appropriate fair wear and tear. So in our view if the inventory clerk does their job, and their job only, there will be clear evidence from which to measure any deterioration in the property during the tenancy.  Then if the landlord keeps accurate records as to the age and cost of the items within the property and the agents provide guidance as to industry standards with regard to the lifespan of items within the property as well as the decorative order, then there would be little need for an independent adjudication team as the evidence would be undisputable to all parties. Of course we do understand however that in a perfect World this would be the case but add into it a non perfect World, romanticising or demonising the condition of a property by both the landlord(s) and tenant(s) ; add in a sprinkling of stubbornness and arrogance and a dispute will still occur!!

To Photograph or not to Photograph on Inventory Reports?

For quite a while now there has been a debate about whether photographs and videos are useful in determining the responsibility or otherwise of a tenant(s) at the end of a tenancy. Rationally, if you have a comprehensive written report but on some items where words might not fully cover it, photographs are a good idea.  However, and herein is where it goes a little awry, photographs that are not part of a report and not date stamped are not particularly useful as they cannot be verified as to when they were taken.  Inventory clerks come in all shapes, sizes and disciplines but even the most professional of us can sometimes genuinely miss something which a landlord or agent might pick up on.  Usually this is remedied by a quick check of the clerks’ notes or, occasionally a return to the premises.  However sometimes landlords are guilty of getting a little emotional about their properties and even though they may not have seen it for a few years they forget all about the inventory/check-in report and then take loads of photographs of all the things that have changed since they last saw it.  Whilst in an ideal World we should be able to take any of the parties comments as being “the truth and the whole truth”, the reason that there is a dispute is because, unfortunately people see their version of the truth different from others.   Similarly black and white or even coloured photos which are not of good quality and are difficult to see what they relate to are not, in our view, worth taking.  It has been recommended that it is ideal to have “before” and “after” photographs.  However as it is unlikely that an inventory clerk will be able to pre-empt what is likely to be damaged at the end of a tenancy and therefore to have good quality “before” and “after” will only relate to more general views. Whilst on the subject of photographs, we can’t leave out videos.  This is where it really begins to mirror “the good”, “the bad” and the downright “ugly”.  Granted we have not seen all the videos ever produced therefore this is just our view of the ones we have. Some we have seen have running commentaries, sometimes interspersed with anything from mild interactions to downright confrontations with others around in the property at the time.  We also have the “shoe advert” type of video where we keep getting long flashes of the producer’s shoes where they forget to turn the camera off between shoots.  And then we get the flasher!! The producer, complete with camera, reflected in the mirrored surfaces.    If we can last manage to see anything worthwhile in the video, we may have lost the will to live during the time it takes for us to be “talked” through each room. So in summary, for us photographs in support of a well written inventory and check-out report are very useful.  However we have yet to see the value of a video of a property or photographs produced solely as the check-in/check-out report. (The views expressed in this blog are entirely our, Sussex Inventories Limited’s own. They can be not be reproduced unless with the permission of Sussex Inventories Limited unless formed as part of a re-tweet or a direct sharing of our blog. If you like this Blog and want to be notified of our next one - just subscribe to our blog below and you will receive an automated email letting you know it has arrived. You can unsubscribe at any time Also if you have a view - leave us a comment!)

Dummies Guide to Avoiding a Landlord and Tenant Dispute

How NOT to have a Tenancy Dispute & 10 Top Tips if you do!
We recommend that a landlord seeks legal advice before entering into an agreement with a tenant because the legislation is complex, the obligations on a landlord can be daunting and the fines can be substantial if there is ever a dispute. When a landlord rents a property there are many areas that should be considered, some of which are listed below.