An industry trade group claims inventories conducted by lettings agents may be seen as biased towards landlords rather than truly independent.
Daniel Evans, chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, says there is a “significant number” of agencies and property firms that own their own inventory operations.
“In those circumstances, it’s very difficult for the process to be seen to be independent. Commercially, lettings agents are there to look after the interests of the landlords, especially in a market suffering massive stock shortages. How can tenants then have faith in a system that might be seen to be biased?” he asks.
Instead Evans wants the government to use the imminent Renters Reform Bill to ensure inventories are carried out by qualified, independent inventory clerks.
“Inventory companies have the capability of being the only truly independent agencies operating in the lettings process. In the event of a dispute, the inventory will act as valuable evidence to offer to the deposit protection scheme provider and enables a fair decision to be made in the adjudication process” he says.
Evans claims there is now a growing number of inventory companies operating with ownership links to large and small property companies.
He continues: “I think this all began during the financial crash of 2008 when the entire market crashed and firms were looking to increase revenue by any means at their disposal, and when the importance of inventories was being fundamentally established. Since then, and with the advancement of technology and digital developments this has become a growing trend and the process has become less transparent as a result.
“And this is not all about tenants. If there is damage to a property during a tenancy, and the landlord wants to claim against the deposit, he or she is still liable for the burden of proof. An independent and objective check-out report will add weight to any claim made. The inventory is a vital part of evidence.
“We know that landlords can benefit from utilising the services of an independent inventory clerk to improve the overall service while maintaining a high degree of professionalism. But this element of choice is being removed by some companies who are using their own inventory service providers.”
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