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.

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