I have been working with a landlord for a number of years, mainly helping him on a Tenant Find Only basis as he is a landlord who wants to look after the property himself and has felt confident in doing this. He is a hands on landlord, always responsive to his tenants needs so therefore has got himself a good name, tenant’s recommend him and often give positive feedback.
Recently though when asking some advice he showed me an Inventory he was using to consider deductions from a deposit. I was astonished that he had managed for so long but he confirmed he’d always been lenient or tenants agreeable to deductions and this was a first potential dispute. I had to advise him that he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if the tenant disputed his claim – his Inventory just wasn’t detailed or accurate enough and he had no photographic evidence to support it. It consisted of a piece of A4 paper torn out from a note book, with a simple list of the furniture. No mention of the property itself just as a list of the items, no note of the fixtures, the walls, carpets, radiators or even the kitchen and bathroom let alone the condition of any of them! I asked him “how do you prove that the stain on the carpet wasn't there when they moved in or the wall WAS white and not grey as it is now? Where is your evidence that the property was spotlessly clean when they moved in and not filthy as at the end? He admitted he had been lucky in the past.
I reminded him that Tenants are more aware of legislation than they used to be and the right and wrong way of doing things. We laughed together after the event and talked about worst case scenario. He agreed that just because he did not have an issue in the first place, does not mean he won't in the future. He is now looking at all of his procedures, which, to be honest, when you are a long standing landlord, it was ok once upon a time, but things have changed in the industry so much and it takes time to keep on top of it all. You don't have to use an expensive inventory clerk, but you do need to get it right, an extensive list, correct description and condition. More importantly now …. Photos to back it up. Don’t be caught out by thinking it won’t happen to you!