Arbitration Happy Inventories
Date: 27/11/18 Category: Landlord Advice
Since the start of Arbitration schemes such as the TDS in 2003. The importance and requirements for an inventory report have grown.
As this need has grown, competition has increased in the inventory service market. This has gone onto increase the demand for quality in the inventory reports provided.
With this new demand, we have had a look at what separates the ‘suitable’ providers to the best providers. Importantly, looking at why that difference is needed in what’s seen as a simple process.
The hope is that a check out report is no more than a guide. A clearly documented report with direct comparisons and a liability placed on any chances from the check in. This enables a swift and professional deposit return. Now, if a property has been looked after during a tenancy then there are a number of companies who offer simple reports styles that can document this.
From our experience, we find that even with the best-behaved tenants, accidents still happen. Horror stories take place, and occasionally properties are just not respected at all. The best inventory reports will clearly document the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy. They will also protect all parties should there be any form of dispute at the end of the tenancy.
Firstly, and at heart, the best inventory reports are the ones that not only make the information easy to read and understand for tenants, landlords and letting agents. They will consider the potential final destination of these reports, arbitration, and what they require to arbitrate fairly and correctly.
Every report should be made with the knowledge that the report may be cross-examined by an arbitrator. Therefore it needs to be watertight to the process. This includes having all the details the arbitrator needs, in their preferred format.
For example, did you know that to arbitrators like the TDS, condition and cleanliness are two very different things?
If either the condition or cleanliness is missed out of an inventory report, a cost cannot be placed on the area at check out. This small factor can go onto have a severe effect on the standard of an inventory report if not known.
What’s often missed?
Photographs relating to a specific point – numbering photographs 1, 2, 3 etc. is no longer requested by arbitration. This can lead to confusion. For example, there are two windows and one is damaged. Which photo is the window in question? What is preferred is a photograph either directly next to a point in the report. If this is not possible, the photo number relating to an item number in the report.
Check in and check out notes on the same document – This makes every parties life a lot easier. It stops any flicking through pages and other reports to locate any changes. Making a direct comparison much simpler.
A clear schedule of condition – Signed if by the tenant if possible. But most importantly, a clear cleaning summary which reflects the body of the report. This gives the landlord, tenant and property manager a snapshot of what to expect in the report.
Incorrect date/address – A simple one. However, something that can void a report. Many companies will include a failsafe into the report building to make sure this error cannot happen.
‘Tested and working’ – Like with the condition and cleanliness, something being ‘tested and working’ is not assumed and has to be specifically noted on a check in report for there to be any liability placed at check out.
Remember these key points when arranging your inventory services
Landlord access prior to a check out – We are often asked to meet landlords at a property for access to a check out inspection and often find them having a look around their property as we arrive. Be extremely careful with this. A tenant may claim that any damage has been caused after they had vacated the property. This could not be independently proven wrong by an arbitrator. Which can result in a successful counter-claim by the tenant.
Independence – Arbitration will hold more weight to a claim if it is by an independent party. As well as knowing the important intricacies of the reporting process. The information itself holds more weight if completed by an independent Inventory Company
Remember, the deposit is the tenant’s money until proven otherwise. Meaning the burden is on the side of the landlord to prove any of the deposit is due to them as compensation.
Understanding arbitration is a must for any top inventory provider and can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful claim.
Past inventory reports let you down?
We’ve been in the inventory industry for over 17 years. Developing and tailoring our reports to meet the demands of the industry. We keep up to date with the adjudicators like the TDS to ensure our reports include what they’re looking for when a deposit claim is being disputed. This is achieved by sending our team on courses arranged by the TDS Academy.