Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, letting inventory services in the UK are an essential part of property rental. The idea of an inventory is to catalogue the contents and condition of a property recording details of the home and any items that are included in the tenancy. The compiled report is then used as part of the legally binding contract between landlord and tenant preventing disputes over possible damages between both parties and aiding in a smooth transition from one tenant to the next.

Over the years, inventory reports have traditionally been compiled in writing, text still rules the roost; however, as technology advances and many people now have access to cameras in smartphones and tablets, there are an increasing number of landlords incorporating photos into inventories. There is an old saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ and it’s hard to argue with this; but, can this saying really be applied to property inventory in the UK?

Finding the right balance

A picture can add a lot to an inventory, and photographs of large areas of damage such as holes in doors, carpet burns, and damage to worktops will go a long way in building a solid case against a tenant. However, when it comes to providing the perfect inventory report, a photo is only worth a thousand words if the right balance is found.

According to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), an overseer of excellence in rental inventory services in the UK, photographs are being used more regularly in inventories. However, they are at the expense of written descriptions and this is leaving landlords exposed to costly disputes with tenants over damage.

In many reports, the AIIC has found that photos no bigger than thumbnails are being used as evidence. Naturally, with a picture being so small, detail is hard to see. Photographs of a decent size and quality though, can be very useful and many of today’s modern smartphones have the capability to produce detailed images.

Only quality photos will do

The comprehensive nature of inventories means that it photos must only be provided if they are backed up by a written presentation. The most common disputes between landlords and tenants are over small damages, such as chips in cupboard doors, scratches in sinks and baths, and knife marks on worktops. Such damages, while minor, can result in financial losses for landlords and tenants if negligence cannot be proved and a photo alone is often not sufficient evidence as details are so fine.

In order for property inventory services in the UK to help landlords win disputes for either side in a rental agreement, it is essential that photos are of a high quality and printed in A4 or even A3. In addition to this, the photo should be dated on camera and only be used to make up part of a written report.

The written inventory may still rule the roost, but the use of photos is definitely here to stay.

Photo source: Paul Reynolds

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