Does A Landlord Need An Inventory?By: Michael Mbanunu
As an Inventory Specialist, I’m often met with a blank expression when telling someone my job title, the follow-up question tends to be: “What does an Inventory Specialist do?”
So here it is…
Inventories – What & Why? …
Are inventories at the forefront of your mind when setting up a new tenancy, or do they seem like an irrelevancy, or perhaps something that could be carried out by yourself?
If you are thinking of anything other than arranging a professional inventory, then read on!
To put it in its simplest form, an Inventory Specialist inspects and reports a property’s condition before the tenants move in and then once again when they have moved out.
An Inventory specialist works as an unbiased, impartial party, comparing any external and internal differences to a property, which may have occurred since the start of the tenancy.
This sounds like a simple process. However, it must be a process that needs to be extremely thorough and detailed.
A document is produced, which is subsequently used to show if any deductions should be made from the tenant’s deposit which they paid upon moving in. The decision for any deductions is based on whether the property (or any items in the property) is left in any condition that is not the same or worse than it was upon move-in.
Why Should I use an Inventory Specialist and not carry out an Inventory myself?…
On 20th March 2019, a Fit For Human Habitation Law came into force designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation. It also strengthens tenants’ means of redress against the minority of landlords who do not fulfil their legal obligations to keep their properties safe.
On occasion, disputes between a landlord and tenant can end up in court. Therefore, the Inventory Specialist’s report must be ARLA approved and stand up to all legal requirements ensuring the tenant’s safety.
Many legislations need to be upheld within the Inventory. Be aware that vital mistakes could be made if not carried out by a professional. Crucial elements that need to be included are a Gas Safety Record, Electrical Installation Condition Report and Legionella Risk Assessments. In Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA), Landlords, under Section 53 of HSWA, are regarded as being self-employed, and tenants fall into the class of “other persons (not being his employees)”.
If a landlord rents out a property, they have legal responsibilities to ensure they conduct the Inventory, so that tenant(s) are not exposed to health and safety risks. Due to the potential risks that could arise and the importance of Inventories being carried out correctly, Conran will only manage a property with an independent inventory.
The need for an Inventory to be carried out professionally is also a blessing in disguise for many landlords, as the process is highly time-consuming, especially for those landlords with multiple properties and tenants moving in and out across multiple dates. It can also be difficult for landlords to inspect their rental properties if they do not live nearby or live overseas.
Not only will an Inventory Specialist visit the property at the start and end of the tenancy, but they should also visit the property every 6 months for a Mid-Term Inspection. This inspection considers the cleanliness and condition that the property is being kept in by the tenant. The Inventory Specialist can find out a lot of important information that the landlord would need and want to know from the Mid-Term Inspection, such as:
- Maintenance that needs to be carried out at the property
- Pets being kept in the household (which are not permitted in the contract)
- Tenants smoking inside the property
- Evidence of unpermitted occupiers.
A quality managing agent will communicate with the inventory specialist, informing them of changes to the property during the tenancy. This is particularly important if any maintenance has been carried out. Such effective communication enables the inventory specialist to inspect works on behalf of the landlord to ensure quality.
The Mid-term Inspection also ensures that all health and safety regulations are being met, testing all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in the property and ensuring the property has the correct number of working alarms on each floor.
According to Citizens Advice, more than 70% of tenants have experienced health and safety issues during their tenancy. This can often be due to landlords carrying out their own Inventories and unaware of health and safety regulations. This high figure is compounded as many landlords do not carry out Mid-Term Inspections to monitor the property’s general condition and, most importantly, check on their tenant’s safety.
The Mid Term Inspection report should be sent to the landlord along with photos of any changes noted. The landlord should review and confirm that they are happy with what they see visually.
What is the Future of Inventory Reports?
Most Inventory Reports that are carried out at the beginning and end of a tenancy are a simple PDF document. This document lists a description of each item in each room, stating its condition and cleanliness.
However, here at Conran, we like to do things differently.
We have recently teamed up with a specialist 360* photography provider who provides first-class virtual property tours.
Instead of reading pages and pages of, quite frankly, dull, mundane and repetitive reports, both landlords and tenants are sent a virtual tour of the property. This report can be accessed on a mobile device or a computer. The Landlord and Tenant can take a look around the property just as if they were in there themselves!
Being able to view the property this way gives a landlord a clear idea of the condition of their property and is a fresh, modern and straightforward way for them to do so.
We then put together a 3D floor plan of each room and the option to take a live tour of the property.
The live tour allows up to 8 people to all be on a group video call allowing the participants to take a tour of the house, moving from room to room all at the same time, able to discuss any issues, all sat in the comfort of their own home. This could include the Landlord, builders, managing agent or even the Tenant if their input is required.
This is an excellent tool where a landlord requires maintenance to be carried out on a property. They can discuss matters while on the live tour of the property with a builder, saving meeting in person (which we know in COVID times is a huge plus!).
We are here to make your lives easier, saving you time, worries and hassle.
Who wouldn’t want that?!
Talk To Us…
If you are a landlord and want to find out any more information, please feel free to get in touch. We would love to hear from you!
Let’s chat – firstname.lastname@example.org