► Most Inventories Will Not Stand Up in Court!
The majority of the inventories presented to deposit scheme adjudicators are not worth the paper they are written on, leading to landlords losing deposit cases, says the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
Many landlords and agents are failing to present at court thorough and fully detailed inventories, copies of which have been given to the tenant at check-in and check-out. It is imperative that tenants sign their acceptance of the contents of the check-in within 7 days of the move in, and this signed copy should be retained by either the landlord or letting agent.
An unsigned inventory is still acceptable by deposit scheme adjudicators, if it is dated and proof is available that the document has been given to the tenant at time of check in. Tenant deposit schemes recommend that an inventory is compiled by a suitably qualified professional inventory clerk although landlord’s inventories, if they contain sufficient detail, will still be accepted.
Other useful evidence to use in any end of tenancy dispute are contractors invoices for services like professional cleaning of the property, carpets, windows, oven etc or for gardening. Also needed as evidence are receipts for any items purchased specifically for this tenancy.
Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC, said: “It is so important for landlords to ensure they have all the right paperwork to present to adjudicators. Time and again we see landlords losing disputes because they fail to provide the right evidence to show that a tenant has damaged the property. It should always be remembered that the deposit is the tenant’s property until a landlord can prove justification for any deductions.
“It is vital that there is a thorough and detailed inventory which will enable both parties to be treated fairly and reasonably. The inventory documentation serves a number of vital functions, especially if professionally compiled – including providing a catalogue of the let property, an unbiased record of it condition and any items included in the tenancy. It also forms part of the legally binding contract that is set out in the tenancy agreement between the tenant and the landlord.
“Therefore it is vital to have a carefully prepared inventory at check-in, which can be then used at check-out, to enable an accurate comparison of the property’s condition. Without this documentation, landlords and agents could end up significantly out of pocket. The good news is that if landlords and agents have all the right evidence in place, their chances of winning a dispute is greatly improved.” According to the AIIC, many inventories are more often than not, completely inadequate, mainly because:
- Landlords and letting agents make the mistake in thinking that inventories can be heavily comprised of photography and video. Completely photographic or filmed inventories without a complete written accompanying report are almost useless. If photography or film has been used in your inventory, make sure it is detailed enough and dated. Include photographs of the garden; interior of the shed or garage; inside of the oven; and keys handed over to tenants – these are the main areas of problems that occur and are often down to misinterpretation at the end of a tenancy.
- Remember, you don’t need photos of every single corner of the property, these are frankly a waste of time and effort (and would be impossible to do) – stick to the important things. Films and photographs alone will be of little use in a dispute when an adjudicator is trying to find hard evidence of a particular area. You can bet the problem in question just won’t be something you have photographed in the first place!
- Many landlords and agents do not carry out a thorough and full check-in and check-out of the property at which the tenant was present. Landlords and agents who don’t have this available when they go to court, have little chance of winning the case.
- Often, no correspondence with the tenant is documented and no receipts are kept for the deductions on the deposit eg cleaning and repairs.
The AIIC is a not for profit membership organisation and is committed to excellence and professionalism in the property inventory process. The AIIC works hard to ensure that all landlords, tenants and letting agents understand the importance and benefits of professionally completed property inventories.
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Most Inventories Will Not Stand Up in Court! Posts
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