A property inventory process is crucial if a landlord wants to protect themselves against picking up the bill for property repairs caused by a tenant.
However, to be useful during a dispute, especially if the matter goes to court, it’s important that the inventory has been thoroughly completed as part of a well-managed process so that it covers every aspect of a property and is correctly preserved.
Why is an inventory system necessary?
One of the most common causes of disputes between landlord or letting agent and a tenant is over the return of a deposit at the end of a tenancy, especially if some needs to be retained to cover repair or replacement costs.
For all assured, shorthold tenancies in England and Wales which began after 6 April 2007, landlords must place deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) where it is legally protected.
A landlord, or their letting agent, must return the deposit in full if the tenant meets the terms of the tenancy agreement, doesn’t damage the property and pays their rent and bills. However, if you end up in a dispute with your tenant over the state of the property when they leave, the deposit remains protected in the TDP scheme until the issue is sorted out.
In this scenario, a well-managed inventory system provides the crucial evidence needed to settle any dispute and allow you to cover the cost for any damage.
What should an adequately managed inventory cover?
A property inventory is a comprehensive written and photographic report detailing the state of your property, including outside spaces, at the beginning of a tenancy.
It provides information on the furniture, fixtures, fittings and general wear and tear, details keys, appliance manuals and meter readings. Anything damaged or missing should be recorded in front of the new tenant.
A report also includes a safety section to record the evidence that a landlord or letting agent complies with safety regulations, such as smoke/CO detectors and the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations, 1988.
An inventory must be scheduled for the check-in and check-out procedures of a tenant, to record the property’s condition as the tenant departs. This clearly shows any changes that occurred during the tenancy. Additional checks can also be scheduled during the tenancy.
It is important that all inventories are fully documented and witnessed. Having a professionally prepared inventory can help establish the landlord’s credibility if the case goes before a tribunal or judge.
How does inventory management benefit the landlord?
The details recorded in a property inventory provide the evidence needed to prove whether the damage was done during a tenancy and if it was the responsibility of the tenant. This makes a subsequent claim by the landlord or their letting agent against a protected deposit or zero-deposit replacement insurance much simpler and more likely to be upheld.
A detailed inventory also helps reassure your tenant that they won’t be blamed for any damage they weren’t responsible for. This gets the relationship between landlord, or letting agent, and tenant off to a good start and a happy tenant is much easier to deal with than an unhappy one.
No Letting Go
At No Letting Go we offer an independent and unbiased professional inventory management service, providing a written and photographic report on the condition of the property and its contents.
If you would like to find out more about how our local support or national network could support you as your property management partner to streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories, then contact us today.
The Coronavirus pandemic has hit every sector of the economy, but it hasn’t been a disaster for the rental market that some were fearing – in fact, it’s remained relatively stable. So, what does 2021 have in store after such an unpredictable year?
Predictions for 2021 rental market
In 2021 the overall demand for rental properties is expected to be strong, which is good news for landlords and letting agents, but there are challenges ahead that could affect the market:
- Ongoing global pandemic: Landlords and letting agents will need to continue managing tenants experiencing reduced incomes and government temporary measures to prevent some evictions, at least in the short term. This will lead to some challenging times ahead and a need to adapt to any new measures put in place.
- Brexit: Rules allowing Europeans to work, travel and rent in the UK will change, leading to a reduced number of European tenants and business lets. Uncertainty around Brexit will also cause financial unease and changes in legislation that may affect the numbers of people willing to invest in property.
- The economy: Economic uncertainty will mean many renters could choose to delay purchasing a property, keeping the demand for rentals high. However, those on low incomes, typically renters, may see salaries continuing to be depressed, making rent rises difficult.
- Changes in taxation: Capital gains tax is under review, and there’s concern that general increases in taxation may make investing in property less appealing, reducing the supply of rental properties. This is better news for current landlords.
To what extent these factors affect supply and demand for rental properties has created mixed views in the sector. According to the site Letting Agent Today, Hamptons and Belvoir are predicting either minimal rent rises or static levels in 2021, while Savills suggest rental prices will increase as the sector continues to see demand strengthen.
Moving forward to 2021
Uncertainty is the most straightforward prediction to make for 2021. Yet, demand for rental properties is likely to remain high, and even if the environment is challenging, the sector is now better equipped to manage it.
In our 2019 predictions, we stated that ongoing digital transformation in the property sector would continue to be necessary, and it was. Technology has enabled our industry to navigate restrictions and continue business when the lockdown was lifted. In fact, digital tools such as No Letting Go’s DigiSign system has facilitated social distancing requirements for property check in’s and check outs, and reduced the admin burden of agents chasing for signed reports.
It’s these types of innovations and opportunities for increased efficiencies that will ensure our sector remains agile and able to react to whatever changes 2021 has in store.
No Letting Go
Whether you are a landlord or a letting agent, if you would like to discuss how our local support or national network could become your property management partner, streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories, then contact No Letting Go today.
If you are a landlord, then enlisting the support of a qualified inventory specialist can save you time and hassle as there can be no question of bias. Professional service means that your report will be fair and accurate, and is less likely to have important points missed off. It can also ensure that any disputes at the end of a tenancy do not get personal, and are resolved fairly.
A common bone of contention for landlords and tenants is – what counts as fair wear and tear and what is damage. An inventory specialist will consider factors including the quality of an item, its condition at the beginning of the tenancy, and if the property had been let to a single professional or family with young children.
Here are 10 reasons why you should consider using an accredited independent inventory company:-
1 – Members of ARLA Propertymark or APIP, will have in depth training and specialist knowledge. Members must adhere to a strict code of conduct, which protects you against any problems or disputes that you (hopefully don’t) encounter with your inventory company.
2 -Being part of an official organization will keep the inventory company up to date on current legislation and changes to the law in relation to the inventory and buy to let sector in general.
3 -If a deposit dispute is raised, an independent adjudicator will lend more weight to an inventory that’s been compiled by an independent third party.
4 – An inventory company will provide a visual and written report on the condition of the property including detailed information and observations on all contents, fittings and fixtures at the beginning, middle and end of the tenancy. This is supplemented by high quality date stamped, digital photographs of every room, any specific damage and the level of cleanliness.
5 – A third party supplier can be relied upon to produce an inventory that reflects the property exactly as it is.
6 – The check-out report will detail whether any deterioration is beyond normal wear and tear and whether they consider any damage or deterioration to be the landlord’s or the tenant’s responsibility. This should make it easier to decide what, if anything, to deduct from the deposit.
7 – Independence demonstrates to tenants that you are professional, transparent and have their best interests at heart.
8 – Comprehensive property reporting and photographs take up a lot of storage. A professional inventory company will securely store your reports remotely for you, providing you access at all times.
9 – Fire and CO alarms will be tested according to the fire safety regulations, and some inventory companies will provide an on-site replacement service, saving the hassle of using another contractor.
10 – Professional inventory companies will be covered by public liability and professional indemnity insurance.
No Letting Go specialise in providing comprehensive, unbiased, detailed inventories. We’ll take out the hassle of carrying them out for you, by ensuring every inventory is done by an expert, to the highest standard. This will not only help mediate disputes, but prevent them altogether, ensuring every tenancy is a happy one!
Research by Statista, a statistics portal for market data, found more than half of landlords who responded were in disputes with their tenants, the main reasons being arrears, cleanliness, pets, subletting and breakages. Using regular property inventories letting agents can help their landlord clients to avoid such problems.
When should you use a property inventory?
A property inventory provides a detailed report on the contents and condition of a property, listing furniture, fixtures and fittings and alongside the condition and cleanliness.
A property inspection must take place for each new tenancy to detail the condition of the property at the start; at regular intervals throughout the tenancy to record any changes and damages from the check-in inventory; and finally, at the end of the tenancy to assess the property as the tenant departs.
These regular inspections provide a full report of the property’s condition for the complete duration of the tenancy.
Why are property inspections of benefit?
Completing a property inventory might seem like a time-consuming task for a busy letting agent looking after a number of properties. However, a comprehensive inventory process can stop a landlord-tenant dispute from escalating into a legal dispute, which would be far more costly in time and money. A proper inventory system offers other benefits:
- Essential evidence about the state of the property
- Crucial evidence if you need to take the cost of a repair or replacement from a tenant’s deposit
- Claiming on insurance is much easier with inventory evidence
- A speedy inspection process to reduce the period between tenancies and maximising a property’s income potential
- Using a standard inventory process ensures that nothing is missed during a property inspection
What does an adequate property inventory look like?
To ensure that a property’s inventory and schedule of condition will be useful to avoid a dispute, it must include:
- Full contents of the property, fixtures, fittings and state of decoration
- Details of the condition for each item
- Photographic, date-stamped evidence
- A declaration page for relevant parties to indicate their agreement to the contents of the report
It must also be completed in an objective and unbiased way and enable easy comparison between reports to identify any changes in contents or condition. Ideally, a property visit should be completed every three to six months
Disputes between landlords and tenants are time-consuming, potentially costly and can affect the reputation of a landlord and their letting agent. Using an independent inventory service can help boost the credibility of an inventory for tenants because they will see it as being independent.
Discussing the tried and tested landlord inventory service we use at No Letting Go can help letting agents understand how our inventories are structured to facilitate comprehensive property inspections and designed to capture the right information to prevent disputes.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could become your property management partner, streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories the please contact us today.
Without a doubt, regular property inspections are one of the most important things you can do to protect your property investment. However, for many property owners, it’s still one of those admin chores that’s difficult to find time for. So why are property inspections such a vital element of property management?
The benefits of regular property inspections
Recent feedback from one of our customers Faye Walker, Property Manager at Fry & Kent in Hampshire, who regularly uses our property inspection service, is a reminder of why property inspections should be a regular, planned activity:
“Property inspections by No Letting Go give me real peace of mind. Their experience and use of inventory software designed specifically for the job means nothing gets past them. That way, I am reassured that my tenants are safe and happy and my property, which I’ve invested a lot of money into, is being kept in good order.”
Some landlords are worried about checking up on their tenants, but far from being intrusive, regular inspections show your tenant that you care about their welfare and can head off problems before they become expensive disputes.
This peace of mind comes from knowing that a comprehensive property inspection covers many aspects of being a landlord, including:
• Reviewing the condition of the property and its contents, to spot any repair and maintenance issues before they become costly problems
• Ensuring compliance with the tenancy agreement
• Making sure no illegal activities are taking place at the property
• Building a good relationship with tenants
• Demonstrating that as a landlord you are fulfilling your responsibilities
• Creating documentation that can provide evidence if a dispute arises
Making property inspections easy
Property inspections are time-consuming. Defining what needs to be checked, recording the findings of an inspection and organising inspection visits all take time. A great way to relieve the burden of regular property inspections is to use a property inspection service.
At No Letting Go, we utilise our bespoke inventory software to ensure all property inspections are thoroughly conducted logically, with written and photographic evidence included in the report. Together with an inspection at the end of a tenancy and the beginning of a new tenancy, regular property inspections provide a full audit trail of the properties condition.
The benefits of using a property inventory reporting system mean that inspections can be completed promptly and they also provide consistency over what is being monitored, so nothing is missed, either during the inspection or because of lost records. Online reports are easily recalled and compared when necessary to review changes.
Our thorough and rigorous inspection services are all about protecting the landlord’s investments and ensuring tenants have a good tenancy experience, working hard to ensure all our customers feel as reassured as Faye says:
“Having been in the Lettings Business for many years, No Letting Go is by far one of the best Inventory companies I have used. They are always professional, reliable and the quality of work is second to none with reports always received on time.”
No Letting Go
If you would like to find out more about how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could become your property management partner, streamline your cost, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories, then contact us today.
The latest government rules combined with the Prime minister’s recent address to the nation is clear – tougher measures are required to control the spread of the virus.
Everyone has a slightly different attitude to risk, and with each new set of guidance comes a shift in public attitudes. The public wants protection from the government to reduce the risks of contracting an avoidable illness, but they also want protection against avoidable economic hardship (according to the Health Foundation and Ipsos recent public survey).
So, we all have a role to play – government, public and businesses large and small (and the press, but that’s a whole other topic!). Let’s hope that common sense prevails and the wearing of PPE, washing hands, sanitising and minimising contact with others will prevent us facing further draconian measures.
So how is this affecting the lettings industry? Well actually, very little has changed to the protocols already in place with agents and suppliers such as inventory providers, aimed at minimising the spread of the virus. A more significant change to letting agents is the requirement to wear masks while working in high street offices. Office workers are being told to work from home where possible, so effective systems and the ability to outsource tasks to reliable, responsible experts will be paramount in the weeks and months ahead.
In terms of how we continue to adapt as an industry, the focus has to be on creating as much confidence as possible for landlords and tenants, by ensuring safety measures are in place and being adhered to, and technology solutions are being utilised where possible, to minimise contact for staff and clients. Now is the time to remind, re-enforce and monitor those protocols with staff and clients to ensure safety is paramount and safeguard the continuity of our industry.
Minimising face to face contact is a priority and it is possible to conduct inventories, check-ins and check outs without the need for the tenant to be present. It is also vital that the tenant is reassured that in addition to his safety, this will not be detrimental to his tenancy and/or deposit – utilising an independent provider will offer additional comfort in this regard.
We achieve no contact reporting by using our DigiSign service. The system electronically delivers the inventory to the tenant enabling him to add comments back into the report if he wishes, with the facility to include photos and record an electronic signature – all within a specified time frame. Our inventory expert will then assess these comments before sending a final copy onto the agent and tenant. If the tenant forgets to sign, an automated message will be issued informing him the report has been deemed acceptable, removing the requirement for further chasing.
If you are conducting these in-house utilising software such as Kaptur, you can still achieve the same with emailing inventories, requesting tenant input and then using DocuSign software to capture the signature. Our system just removes the chasing element on behalf of the agent.
There are situations where the tenant and possibly another supplier is at the property whether planned or not, and this is where our COVID processes are utilised. Most agents are vigilant in asking health questions, to ensure tenants do not have symptoms, which is then reaffirmed by our inventory experts at the property. Keys and surfaces touched are sanitised, PPE is used and social distancing is requested by our expert. The same protocols are in place if we are collecting or returning keys to the agent office.
Whether you are outsourcing your inventories, check-ins and check-outs, or conducting them in house below is a quick checklist to remain COVID compliant to protect staff, tenants and our industry:-
- Minimise tenant contact where feasible with the use of technology
- Document your COVID procedures for visiting properties with and without tenants present and re-issue to all staff and suppliers and of course to landlords and tenants
- Check your risk assessment is up to date and re-issue to staff
- Do you have enough PPE and is everyone aware of when to use masks, sanitize keys, surfaces and hands and how to dispose safely
- Revisit processes regularly as the current situation is fluid and fines apply for breaking COVID rules
The other aspect to consider is assisting the Test and Trace service by keeping records of staff members for 21 days. Whilst this is not mandatory for our industry, more specifically relating to designated venues in certain sectors, its wise to consider this. If a member of your staff contracts the virus, most business owners will be eager to ensure anyone they have come into contact within the last 21 days are notified.
Inventory reporting keeps tenancies, the deposits and all parties safe from unfair claims and it keeps the housing market moving with check in’s and checkouts. Tenants and landlords may have differing attitudes towards risk, but the focus must remain on minimising interaction with others by communicating clear guidelines.
Perhaps one of the most sensitive and potentially litigious times for landlords and tenants comes at the end of a tenancy, when the state of a property or its fittings can put a deposit at risk, leading to disputes.
A checkout report completed by an impartial party can help avoid this potential issue by providing an objective view of the condition of the property and define who is responsible for any costs.
What exactly is a checkout report?
This report is done at the end of a tenancy and provides a thorough record about the state of the property on the departure of the outgoing tenants. Each room is inspected and graded with the assessment of specific items, clearly stating whether any action required. The resulting report provides clear evidence to justify a deduction from the tenant’s deposit. It also provides information to the landlord of what action needs to be taken before the next tenants arrive.
The checkout report, together with an inventory at the beginning of a tenancy, provides evidence of when any damage may have occurred and so who is liable. If there is a dispute, these documents can be used as part of any adjudication process.
What does a checkout report include?
A checkout report provides a detailed description of damage, maintenance and cleanliness. As the reports are written in detail and contain photographic evidence, they offer a definitive set of findings from the checkout inspection.
It can be difficult for a landlord to make an objective assessment of acceptable wear and tear, but an independent assessor completing a checkout report will use their experience to make a fair judgement. Tenants can also be assured that there is nothing for the assessor to gain from the decisions they make regarding responsibility.
What are the benefits of a checkout report?
The great thing about Checkout Reports is that there are benefits for both parties:
- Reports can be completed by independent specialists to reassure tenants of the fairness of the checkout process.
- Tenants are more likely to agree with the Checkout Report findings if they see a fair assessment has been completed.
- A good checkout report process helps maintain a positive relationship between tenant and landlord.
- They prevent unnecessary costs and saves time for the landlord.
- They make the transition between consecutive tenants smoother, with the reports identifying early on any action to be taken before the next tenants arrive.
At No Letting Go, our trained inventory specialists provide a comprehensive Checkout Report and a service that both tenants and landlords can have confidence in. Their accurate and timely information to landlords and tenants facilitate a smooth and amicable departure the rental property.
No Letting Go
If you would like to find out more about how No Letting Go could become your property management partner, with our local and national network of specialists streamlining your costs, reducing your workload and keeping accurate inventories for your properties, then contact us today.
In England and Wales, Public Health England confirmed 359 cases of Legionnaires’ Disease, with 25 leading to death. The financial consequences to those held responsible for the infections were serious, but as a landlord, are you also in danger of breaking the law?
What is Legionella?
Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal type of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacterium. It can spread in small airborne droplets of contaminated water which people inhale. These droplets can be produced by water outlets in the home, such as taps and showerheads. It can also be caught by drinking contaminated water. Legionella can cause coughs, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches and, in the worst cases, to death.
Any man-made water system can provide an environment in which Legionella bacteria can grow, with the right temperature and nutrient sources, such as rust, sludge, scale or biofilm). The more it can multiply, the greater the risk of exposure. For this reason, the water systems and outlets of a rented property need to be properly maintained and checked.
What does the law say?
If you are a landlord and rent a property or even a room within your home, you have a general legal responsibility under Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) to ensure the health of your tenant by preventing their exposure to health and safety hazards in your property. There is also specific guidance for Legionnaires’ disease:
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH): This refers to hazardous substances, including biological agents such as the Legionella bacterium. It requires the landlord to identify and assess the risk to others on their property and to implement any necessary measures to control risk.
- L8 Approved Code of Practice (3rd edition) (ACOP): Published in 2001 and updated in 2013, this guidance stipulates a duty for landlords to carry out a risk assessment on tenants’ exposure to Legionella.
The penalties of failing to carry out a legionella risk assessment
If the Health and Safety Executive can prove that you, as a landlord, did not take adequate steps to control the risk of Legionnaires’ Disease, you can be liable to up to two years in prison, and an unlimited fine or both.
In 2016, one well-known company was fined nearly 2 million pounds for failing to take adequate measures to prevent a Legionella outbreak. That’s not even mentioning the damage done to reputation, business profits and the potential for legal action by the injured person.
A legionella risk assessment from No Letting Go
As well as our comprehensive range of services to private landlords and letting agencies nationally, including inventory management, No Letting Go also offer legionella risk assessment visits.
All of our inspectors are City and Guilds qualified, and they will give you clear, concise and comprehensive reports that highlight any risks and explain any actions you need to take to meet your recommended safety requirements.
If you want the peace of mind knowing your property is safe from the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, then contact us today.
A property inventory is a very important tool for anyone renting or managing a let property, and having this facility as a specifically designed system can greatly enhance its efficiency.
What challenges should a property inventory address?
When completing a property inventory, you need to have the confidence that it’s not only recording information accurately but that it’s also recording all the information necessary. If a dispute arises over the condition of a property, the information you’ve recorded could be integral to resolving the issue. A property inventory, therefore, needs to do the following:
- Ensure all key information is included in each report
- Provide proof of property issues
- Minimise financial risk by creating records that can be relied upon
- Reduce the risk of tenants, landlords, agents etc. not agreeing on the property’s condition
- Remove doubt by recording changes that have occurred over time
- Ensure the rented property is meeting legal requirements
How an inventory system addresses your challenges
Using the technology of an inventory system, such as No Letting Go’s Kaptur app, can provide a solution for many of the challenges of keeping good inventory management:
- Provides a web-based centralised booking system that’s easy to access and update, even remotely
- Allows current and historical inventories to be seen side by side to simplify viewing any changes
- Provides a fully documented audit trial
- Produces clear and precise records, agreed by both tenant and landlord, to reduce disputes when claims from deposits are required
- Identifies work to be done before the next tenant moves in
- Is mobile, allowing all administration to be completed on-site, capturing all information immediately
- Helps agents manage time efficiently by managing admin tasks such as orders, appointments, change notifications and alerts
- Provides documents in a format accepted by all Government deposit protection schemes
When an inventory system is made specifically for the task in hand, its real power is that it offers confidence for all parties and captures data very easily.
Who benefits from using this technology?
Whether tenant, landlord or agent, the success and benefit of Kaptur as an inventory management system is that it benefits all parties involved.
For agents, the efficiency of the app allows them to save time and provide uniformed reports. For landlords and tenants, the accuracy of the information and its real-time capture provides confidence in what’s been recorded. This reduces the risk of dispute over information and minimising the financial risk for both parties.
For those looking to increase efficiency in their lettings business and deliver professional reports to clients, an inventory management system provides a “one-stop-shop” solution.
No Letting Go
If you would like to discuss how our local support or national network at No Letting Go could help you as your property management partner, streamline your costs, reduce workload and keep accurate property inventories, then contact us today.
Owning a franchise is a very popular starting option for anyone with an urge to run their own business. At No Letting Go, our franchise business is thriving as entrepreneurial spirits join us and take advantage of the many opportunities an inventory management franchise offers.
Why is inventory management a good business opportunity?
The rental market is booming right now, and lockdown has done little to slow it down. Recent figures show a 22% increase in demand for lettings in comparison with the same period in 2019. In fact, it’s predicted that households within the private rented sector is set to rise by 5.79 million by 2021. This level of expansion offers exciting opportunities for anyone involved in the sector.
To manage the growth in the lettings market successfully, there will need to be a robust infrastructure of support services around it, and inventory management will play an essential role. Inventory management ensures the protection of both landlord and tenant and reduces the potential for disputes. Landlords value the ability to outsource inventory management as it saves them time, and our independence gives tenants greater confidence in the process.
Moving into a market with such growth opportunity is an exciting proposition for any new business owner, but when this can be done through a franchise, which offers the prospect of a readymade set-up and a recognised brand, it’s an opportunity to get your business career off to a flying start.
What’s special about a No Letting Go franchise?
In addition to an active market, business owners need to ensure that the franchise they’re considering can realise business opportunities and meet their aims.
Inventory management provides a clear advantage to those owning or managing a let property, but the advantage of owning a franchise comes when that franchise is established as a provider of a specialist service. A No Letting Go franchise offers just that:
- A recognised brand and the UK’s largest franchised provider of property reports to the UK residential rental market
- Provides a range of services in addition to the inventory management report, increasing income
- Has services established with a wide variety of letting businesses, including major chains of letting agents, independent local letting agencies, estate agencies, landlords, property management companies and local authorities
- Invests in extensive training in all aspects of delivering the services and running a business, from when you start up and continuing throughout your franchise ownership
- Based on a repeat business model, so once established you’ll see an ongoing flow of business
- Offers assurance that reports are comprehensive, compliant and simple to create, so you’ll always be in demand
Become a franchise owner
The desire to provide great customer service, deliver on promises and work hard are the main assets you need for starting out on your franchise ownership journey; no industry experience is required.
If you think you have what it takes, and running a franchise would suit your life and your business aims, please contact us to discuss joining the national network of inventory management specialists at No Letting Go.