Technology could help avoid tenancy disputes

by Sarah Ashcroft

One of the major bones of contention between tenants and landlords is often damage to the property.

While landlords often give descriptions about the existing wear and tear to a house when a tenant moves in, these can be open to interpretation.

Some even allege that one of the parties involved has doctored photographs or altered damage descriptions.

However, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), modern technology could provide a vital solution.

Speaking to LandlordZone, Pat Barber, chair of the AIIC, said that the meta data stored on smartphone inventory apps prevents any kind of alteration at a later date, meaning neither party can move the goal posts.

She said while they are not really suitable for large companies, they are ideal for landlords or small agents.

"Smartphone apps automatically date and time photographs and embed them into the document, saving time spent at the property and back at the office," Ms Barber said.

"Photographs taken via a smartphone need to show really fine detail – the sort of problems that occur most frequently on a check-out, such as small chips and scratches in sinks and baths, stains on carpets and scratches and damage to doors and woodwork."

However, she said that more often than not the photographs in inventories are too small and not clear enough, leading to disputes and confusion.

This view was echoed by DDM Lettings, speaking to the Gainsborough Target.

It claimed that poorly executed digital pictures can actually cause confusion rather than resolve disputes.

Without accurate, properly recorded inventories, landlords have little proof of any damage done and will therefore find it very difficult to keep any of the tenant's deposit to pay for repairs.

Smartphones can help by allowing for close up photographs and videos, combined with a full, detailed inventory.

But, as with any inventory, a record of the existing damage is only as good as the person inputting the data. So if they miss things or fail to take photos with enough detail, even up to the minute smartphone inventories could be of little help.

Lawpack's Property Inventory Kit is solicitor-approved and includes expert guidance on how to make an inventory properly, so you can be rest assured that you and your property are protected.

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Published on: June 12, 2012

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