Letting Agent inspection photographs published online?

by Readers Question

9:21 AM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Letting Agent inspection photographs published online?

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Letting Agent inspection photographs published online?

We recently had a mid term inspection, usually we like to be present at these inspection. However, this was not possible on this occasion and the letting agent entered using management keys.

We have now received the inspection report which describes the property as being in a good, clean and tidy condition and they remarked we are clearly looking at it well.

However, attached with the report are 52 photographs. 52 photographs of our 2 bedroom apartment, many of the photographs are of our personal things and they have even taken one of our laundry basket! Now I understand they need to take a photograph of each room for their records but surely this is excessive and unreasonable?

This was a bit annoying until my husband noticed that the report and all 52 photographs are shared from an insecure website. Anyone can access the report which contains our address and view all the photographs.

I can’t believe this is the done thing? However I’m not sure where we stand if I do complain formally.

The letting agent in the past has been very dismissive of our concerns, how do I approach them to explain I’m not happy and this is not acceptable?

Many thanks

Caitlin


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Comments

Gary Nock

9:47 AM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Hi Caitlin,

52 photos is over the top I think. We do mid tenancy inspections and in respect of our tenants right to
" peaceful enjoyment" of the property we only take pictures when there is a maintenance issue so we can send the job to the contractor for assessment and so that they turn up with the right materials or parts to fix it. If possible we also ask permission. We do not take them as a matter of routine just to satisfy the landlord, some who do ask for them to be taken routinely just to " reassure them". We remind landlords in this situation that it may be their house but it is the tenant's home. Photos should not be shared on a unsecured website which is quite possibly a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights which provides a right to respect for one's "private and family life, his home and his correspondence", subject to certain restrictions that are "in accordance with law" and "necessary in a democratic society".

Regards

Gary

Ian Narbeth

10:13 AM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Ask the agents to take them down and if they baulk point out that they are likely to be in breach of GDPR rules as there is personally-identifying information.

David Lawrenson

16:31 PM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Sound advice from Ian and Gary there.

We manage most of our properties ourselves as landlords. At an inspection, we would take photos of anything that is “tenant lifestyle” related, if by doing so, you can prevent accidents or damage in the future or to act as a defence in case of damage to the property, necessitating a possible future deduction from the tenancy deposit at the end of the tenancy.

So, if a fire escape is blocked, we would take a photo of that. If the tenants are drying clothes on radiators, (which can cause damp and mould), we would take a photo of that too. Not a close up, but a distance photo would be appropriate, in this case.

As far as possible, you should avoid taking photos which show any of the tenant’s personal possessions – and of course, there is no need for anyone to be “in shot” in any photo. Doing so at a tenancy inspection visit or any other visit, could be deemed to be an invasion of the tenant’s privacy and a breach of their right to “quiet enjoyment”.

I think you should take action as Gary has suggested. The agency actions here do not sound right at all.

Here is my guide to what sort of things an agent or landlord or inventory clerk should and should not take photos of...:
https://www.lettingfocus.com/blogs/2019/08/tenancy-inspection-visits/

David Lawrenson
http://www.LettingFocus.com
http://www.Tenants-Renting-Guide.com
Advice for Tenants and Landlords

Gary Nock

17:02 PM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Great to see some heavyweight property gurus like Ian and David on here offering the benefit of their experience to tenants. This is what Property 118 is all about. Really good to see.

CMC

17:10 PM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Gary Nock at 14/02/2020 - 09:47
Thank you Gary for taking the time to reply, it is reassuring to hear professional views which are inline with our less experienced ones.

CMC

17:11 PM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 14/02/2020 - 10:13
Thank you Ian, we are currently waiting a response from the agent regarding the removal of the photos. Thank you for your comment and advice.

CMC

17:13 PM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by David Lawrenson at 14/02/2020 - 16:31
Thank you David your link has a really useful explanation describing what is reasonable.

Rob Crawford

17:13 PM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Hi Catlin, what do you mean by online? In your case, are the photos in the public domain and accessible by anyone or are the photos only accessible by persons such as yourself, as selected by the agent? Lots of things are managed online, it doesn't mean everyone has access to them.

CMC

17:19 PM, 14th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 14/02/2020 - 17:13
Hi Rob, thank you for taking the time to reply. The photos and report are online, accessible from a public web page. No login or credentials are required to open the page, tested by a trusted friend who managed to open the same. We are all for progressive agents who use the Internet to make tasks such as sharing information easier but not at the loss of our privacy or security.
Thank you again for taking the time to reply, advice such as this is all valuable.
Caitlin

Rob Crawford

12:14 PM, 15th February 2020
About 8 months ago

Reply to the comment left by CMC at 14/02/2020 - 17:19
Ok, therefore I would demand in writing that the agent remove these photos from public viewing. If this fails, you need to report them to your Council's PRS Housing team. If you are threatened with eviction, you must also report this to the Council. But "Shelter" can probably advise on this in more detail.

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