Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Some Thoughts On Inventories

A recent discussion on a group has sparked this weeks post. There has been a lively debate on the merits of independent inventory agents versus the perceived cost saving of landlords completing inventories themselves.
As a deposit protection adjudicator, it is reassuring to receive independently created inventories as you can be more confident that they are objective and, because the inventory agent wants
to get repeat business, they tend to be more thorough. In my opinion, an independently produced inventory that gives a proper detailed record of the condition of the property at a specific time is invaluable when it comes to resolving damage disputes.
That is not to say that all professional inventories are of good quality. Some suffer from a lack of detail or worse,  can be shown to be inaccurate. Some inventory agents will keep their prices artificially low by cutting and pasting from a previous inventory of the same property. This is not good practice and often leads to serious mistakes in the inventory. Cutting corners in this way is a false economy as when you need the inventory, it will not be reliable evidence.

If, on the other hand, a landlord submits an inventory that they have created themselves, of course an adjudicator will take account of it and give it appropriate evidential weight, but if there is a suggestion of bias or subjectivity, it is difficult for the landlord to overcome without a significant amount of evidence. 
Some landlords are very thorough, provide evidence to support their inventories and get the tenant to check, amend and sign the inventory, and it is rare, but not unheard of, for these landlords to be accused of bias. They tend to create their own inventories because they are not satisfied with the service they have received on previous inventories and want to ensure they get it right.
Other landlords provide very unprofessional documents that often suffer from brevity or a lack of appropriate detail, and which linger on subjective matters. These inventories are only useful up to a point, and there is a very real possibility that they will let the landlord down in court or at deposit protection ADR. I suspect these landlords conduct their own inventories to save money which, when you consider the average deposit dispute is over around £750, is very likely not cost effective.

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