How important is a good quality property inspection report?

- Fri 17 Sep 2021

In short, this is hugely important!

As a result of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 many landlords will be aware there is a cap upon the amount of deposit paid by a tenant. In most cases the deposit is capped at the equivalent of five weeks rent. Clearly this limits the funds available to remedy any issues at the end of the tenancy for which the tenant may be held liable under the terms of the tenancy agreement they will have signed.

In most cases, a tenant will look after the property but inevitably normal wear and tear will occur over a period of time and even a well looked after property and the fixtures, fittings and contents thereof will deteriorate with use. Landlords need to allow for fair wear and tear during a tenancy but the term ‘wear & tear’ is of course subjective. Tenants will however be liable for breakages, missing items, or damage to the property (which are deemed in excess of fair wear and tear) as well as cleaning. These issues will arise where a property suffers because of the tenant’s carelessness, negligence, misuse or deliberate damage. Deciding which of these scenarios applies will depend on having good quality information to show a property’s contents, condition and cleanliness at the start and end of the tenancy.

Ideally a written inspection report, both ingoing and outgoing, will describe the property, its fixtures, fittings and contents in detail with a comment upon both condition and cleanliness working room by room. Photographs are also good practice and don’t forget to take utility meter readings at the start and end of a tenancy.

Where appliances are left for use by a tenant it is recommended the make and model is recorded so as to ensure the same appliance is in situ at the end of the tenancy. You would be upset if your top of the range brand new Miele washing machine is replaced by an inferior second hand Beko with a missing door and wonky leg!

Gardens and the exterior of a property including drives, garages, boundary fencing and so on are often overlooked with the focus being on the property itself and the interior of the same. However many deposit disputes arise as a result of exterior and/or garden neglect along with missing items such as lawnmowers, patio containers, garden tools and all similar.

It is good practice to have an outgoing inspection report that mirrors the format of the original ingoing report as this allows a direct like for like comparison in establishing any differentials. An opening summary to indicate a property is generally to a “good standard of cleanliness, condition and free of odour unless otherwise indicated” provides a useful overview of the subject property. Again, a comment upon odour is often overlooked and poses problems when an otherwise freshly smelling property smells of cigarette smoke or pets at the end of a tenancy. How do you substantiate a claim upon a tenancy deposit for de-odorising when there is no reference to any odour, pleasant or otherwise, at the start of the tenancy!

All of the government approved deposit protection schemes, without exception, rightly view the deposit as the tenant’s money and as such take the firm stance in that any claim upon it is the burden of the landlord. The success of any claim upon the deposit fund is therefore 100% dependent upon the quality of any ingoing and outgoing inspection report as evidence of a landlords claim.

To avoid risk, why not consider the benefits of our managed Silver and Gold packages and we will ensure you are protected with the provision of a bespoke property report at the start and end of the tenancy prepared with the benefit of many decades of experience!