Every month at Assist, we take 5 mins to ask a lettings sector expert 5 things. This month, we’re talking to our very own Office Manager, Zoe Taylor. Zoe was delighted to give us the inside scoop on what it’s like working for a property inventory company…

Q. Hi Zoe! Working for a property inventory company must be very interesting, can you give us the inside scoop on why landlords and agents should employ professional clerks to undertake their inventories?

A. No day is the same that is for sure.  Dates and timings change about all the time to work around tenants, cleaners, removal men, agents, landlords and even tenants’ family and obviously, we like to be flexible and be able to accommodate everyone so I am certainly kept on my toes.

We all know by now how important it is for our customers to safe-guard their clients investment and have an inventory conducted in the first place but what is important to understand is why use an independent third party inventory provider and not just do it themselves.

It is understandable that since the tenancy fee ban, agents and landlords are using different strategies to keep the costs down but saving costs now can lead to the lengthy and costly process of a legal dispute should the report not provide critical evidence of the state of the property at the start of the tenancy.

The Deposit Protection Services says that ‘The deposit is first and foremost the tenant’s money; this remains the case until the landlord can justify their claim to it. The onus is on the landlord to show why they are entitled to claim money from the deposit. This process is evidence based. The landlord must support their claim with evidence to show that the tenant has broken the tenancy agreement, and that the landlord has suffered, or is likely to suffer, a loss as a result.

So while it may be tempting to do your own, a judge or adjudicator will more than likely not see it as a fair representation of the original condition. Using a professional independent provider will give you the peace of mind that it is done correctly and provides vital third party evidence for proving damage, dilapidations or deductions to deposits.

It’s not just us saying you need to either, many landlord organisations such as the NLA, RLA and the TDS all urge landlords to make a small investment and instruct a professional company, such as ourselves.

Q. Thank you for sharing! We’ve recently been taking a look at what happens when landlords don’t use a professional inventory and what can go wrong, can you share any stories?

A. I heard of one landlord who had been writing his own reports for many years and initially never had any problems, possibly because his tenants were always reliable, but it only takes one bad apple to destroy the property.

After two years of young professionals renting one of his houses, they reached the end of the tenancy and clearly had a huge party. The entire house was trashed, items missing, damage all over and needed a lot of work before the next tenants could move in.

He had assumed that he’d be able to claim back some money because he’d compiled what he had thought was a decent report but found out that it wasn’t sufficient evidence and lost a lot of money.  Obviously, he now uses professional clerks and says its money well spent.  His exact words ‘its just not worth the hassle!’

Q. We completely agree! Working in the office you must get asked a lot of questions, what is the most common query that you get from landlords and agents?

A. I think that would be not understanding what report is required for what situation.  For example, the difference between an inventory only and an inventory check in, or a check in and not an inventory check in.  We’ve recently added some FAQs to our website to help landlords understand the whole inventory process so its worth taking a look if anyone is unsure.

Q. Amazing, thank you! We have heard that landlords can sometimes ask clerks to use some unusual items when they are undertaking inventories, has the office had any strange requests?

A. Often landlords have an emotional attachment to the property so will follow our clerk around pointing out every nook, cranny and item to record.  As much as we love their enthusiasm to include everything in the report it is best to let clerks concentrate on what they are trained and qualified to do. Of course, they have 5 days to add any additional comments they need once they receive the report as long as our clerk agrees.  One particular client wanted our clerk to include a very detailed description of some dolls including their names!

Q. Thank you so much for your time! Finally, working with the clerks at Assist you must hear your fair share of the weird and wonderful things they find left behind in properties, what’s one of the strangest stories you have heard?

A. Yep, there has been a few oddities left behind. Mostly it’s a few clothes, furniture, rubbish and food left in freezers but we have found unsavoury items including guns, an array of sex toys and even a cat! Clearly as that wasn’t on the inventory the tenants were asked to return and collect their pet!

***

Thank you so much to Zoe for taking time out of the office to do this for us. if you want to work with an inventory clerks who truly understand the sector, get in touch with us.