Warning over use of photos in tenancy disputes

Taylor Scott International News

The use of technology in inventories appears to save time and money, but UK lettings agents and landlords are being warned that in reality it is not full proof. Often technology does not allow for the inclusion of sufficient detail to provide indisputable evidence of the original condition at the start of a tenancy, according to research by My Property Inventories. The perception of inventories by some lettings agents is that inventories can be very long, time consuming and somewhat of a laborious process. As a result, several landlords and management companies opt for the use of technology in inventories believing it will save them time and money. The use of technology in inventories claims to help landlords and management companies to complete inventories in a matter of minutes, with the ability to add large quantities of photographs, which can provide evidence in tenancy, dispute claims. But according to Danny Zane, director of My Property Inventories, in many tenancy dispute cases, the adjudicators are likely to reject some technology based inventories, as they cannot deliver the level of detail required which means that the landlord can lose hundreds of pounds in lost cases. ‘Many landlords and agents are using digital evidence to replace essential written descriptions in inventories, at check-in and check-out, leaving landlords exposed to potentially costly disputes over damage and other issues. The law clearly states that the deposit remains the tenant’s money and that they are entitled to get it back at the end of their stay, provided they have met the terms of the tenancy agreement, so the onus lies with the agent or landlord to provide proof of any proposed deductions,’ he said. ‘Without an accurate and properly detailed inventory, a landlord has no evidence to prove that the property has been damaged in any way during the tenancy and therefore will find it almost impossible to withhold any deposit money from the tenants. A glossy inventory that relies heavily on photographs will be of little use in a dispute. In fact, there is no point in producing a picture book for an inventory, with very little proper description and hundreds of photographs. Inventories like these just do not provide enough detail,’ he explained. ‘Photography and video are great for large areas of damage such as carpet burns, serious damage to worktops and interior décor etc. However, they are not so good for showing really fine detail of the sort of problems that occur most frequently on a check-out, such as small chips and scratches in sinks and baths, knife marks on worktops, scratches to halogen hobs. All of which will cause financial loss to the landlord if negligence can’t be proved,’ he added. The firm points out that inventory reports should contain a full description of a property and its contents, with detail on… Continue reading →

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