Is property reporting still key to the lettings process?

The ban on tenant fees is on the lips of landlords and letting agents alike. With a huge restriction placed on the fees and cost of deposit that can be charged to the tenant (inventories, check ins and check outs being amongst these costs) Agents and landlords could be reconsidering outsourcing these services and bringing them in house. Or, not having them at all.

We’ve found that landlords can be reluctant to have an inventory for their unfurnished property, but now, will even those with furnished properties be thinking differently?

Over our 18 years of carrying out inventory reports, developing them to include more detail and high-quality photographs. We’ve experienced the benefits of a quality inventory report first hand. And, let’s not to forget, the clerk that is required to create a report to this standard. A quality inventory report can be the difference between a smooth deposit dispute or one that’s a big headache.

The quality of a report comes from the experience of the company and the clerk carrying out the report. The inventory company will have developed and set a detailed structure crafted from their years of experience in the industry. Partnered up with the professionally trained and experienced clerk, their eye for detail will ensure that the property is as accurately documented at the time of the inspection.

Tenant Relationships

As we see many agents and landlords are becoming aware, the lettings industry revolves around people more than the properties themselves. Letting agents, Landlords and Tenants all go hand in hand. If there are bad relationships between any stage of these parties, things do not bode well. Landlords want to be sure their property is protected, rented and looked after properly. Tenants want a comfortable, happy and healthy place to live. Letting agents want to ensure that all parties are happy.

We find that the stages of property reporting enable stronger and happier relationships between all letting agents, landlords and tenants.

The inventory report gives the landlord confidence that their property has been accurately and fairly documented. The check in report stage sets up the tenancy to a positive start. Tenants can be welcomed to the property on their arrival by a friendly and professional inventory clerk. Of whom will walk them around the property making them aware of what’s been documented. This evidence from the check in report means tenants are assured they’re not going to be blamed for any existing damage or issues. There’s also the opportunity for tenants, landlords and property managers to raise any amendments to the report directly with the agent or inventory company.

The check in stage is highly beneficial to landlords as the tenants are aware of the condition the property will be expected to be returned at the end of tenancy. Documenting key areas such as the quality of the cleaning are a key indicator to the tenant of the standard the property should be returned.

Interim Property Visits, organised at the convenience of the tenant, means the property can be inspected mid-tenancy in a non-intrusive manner. It’s an opportunity for the agent and landlord to see if the property is being treated respectfully and within the tenancy agreement. Areas such as smoking, subletting and damage to the property will be noted and made aware to the agent immediately.

The interim inspection report can be a chance for tenants to raise any issues they may have noticed if they have not already made the agent aware. From the interim property visit, agents and landlords can take the action needed to remedy the problem. This will keep the tenants happy with their abode and know that they’re listened to. If there are any serious problems being caused by the tenants, relevant action can also be taken by the landlord and letting agent.

Finally, the check out report. Possibly one of the most important reports that finalize the property reporting. The report provides hard evidence that will be used to place liability. This is on any damages or changes to the property at the end of a tenancy. If there is money to be deducted from the tenants’ deposit the report plays a key role in what areas constitute to this deduction. Areas such as fair wear and tear will also be noted by the clerk. If, in the situation, the claim is taken to a deposit dispute. The Adjudicator will use the report to evaluate the evidence and decide which party is owed money from the deposit. Disputes without such evidence are often harder to place liability. If the Landlord has not got enough supporting evidence the tenants will usually win the dispute.

Reports Adjudicators Love

This article takes a look at the aspects adjudicators look for in a report

Lower Deposits & Deposit Schemes

Deposits are being capped to 5 weeks on rental properties with £50,000 or lower annual rent. We’re also seeing the rise of Deposit Schemes. This is where a tenant will take out a guarantee which can cost as little as 1 weeks rent.

Due to these new methods of tenancy deposits, having high-quality evidence of a properties condition at the start and end of a tenancy is now more important than ever.

With lower deposit caps, in a worst-case scenario, damages could cost more to repair than the deposit covers. As the TDS can only award up to the value of the deposit registered property reporting creates accountability for the tenant and landlord. With this accountability, a tenant will be more likely to take extra precaution in the property.

As for the deposit schemes, we see property reporting such as inventories, check ins and check outs as a key document. They will protect their own interests and the tenants and landlords. Any claims will be evaluated using the evidence from these reports… If there are further disputes, the reports will end up going through the adjudicators such as the TDS.

Property Management

Check out reports are key to property managers and their role. Property managers do not always make it out to all the properties they manage. This makes a Check Out report the sole provider for them being aware of any problems with the property.

The dilapidation page in check out reports make the property manager aware of any issues with the property. There is also a suggested action and liability placed on everything documented. For instance, if there are large furniture items left by the tenant it will be noted what type of removal will be needed for this item.

The cleaning page is also a vital aspect for a Property Manager. This gives a good indication as to what cleaning could be required at the property before it’s let again. Enabling for a decrease in time between tenancies as efficient action can be taken.

We also find that property visit reports enable property managers to keep an eye on how a property is being treated. This is without needing to visit themselves. A property visit report is a strong indication of any work or action needed to be taken at the property.

Final Thoughts

We hope that you’ve found this article helpful from a landlord or property management perspective. We’ve seen how high-quality property reporting can benefit agents, landlords and tenants from our 18 years of experience in the industry.

The cost of property reporting services is not something that can be charged to tenants when the fee ban starts. It is likely we’ll see this cost being passed onto landlords. Despite this, the cost of a report is easily outweighed by the benefits we’ve noted above. The security and peace of mind provided by the property being represented accurately and of a high standard are priceless.

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