12:13 PM, 16th November 2011, About 11 years ago 11
One thing I have learned from our experiences working with letting agents around the country is that they operate in many different ways. That’s not just between different agencies but also between different offices within the same company. Here in Altrincham, Cheshire, for example, they tend to operate in a very different way from letting agents just a few miles away in Manchester city centre.
Although Altrincham is an affluent area, it is extremely competitive and agents need to include inventory costs within their fee structure, whereas in the city centre, agents tend to charge landlords £100-£120 in addition to the standard fees (although the inventory costs are usually absorbed by the agent if the property is being fully managed).
Running an inventory company, we believe that a letting agency owes a duty of care to its landlords to get a proper inventory done, one that will stand up in court and not simply provide a basic checklist which, frankly, isn’t worth the paper its written on. We do of course appreciate that they are sometimes not able to make additional charges to landlords and still win instructions.
An inventory is supposed to be an objective record of the state of the property and its contents and although in the large majority of cases we are instructed by the landlord or letting agent, our service is also of value to tenants. Many of these tenants see the sense in acquiring a fair and accurate inventory as at the end of the day, they do not want to see their deposit tied up for months at a time whilst a dispute is being adjudicated.
Many tenants have at some point been subject to their deposits being (in their opinion) unfairly retained and we find that most are open to the idea of paying or at least contributing to the costs of a good quality inventory.
It therefore seems fair to us that the costs of an inventory and checkout should be borne not just by the landlord but by both parties. In fact, that is what at our suggestion, many of our clients have now started to implement successfully. Sometimes the fees are split 50/50 or sometimes the tenant pays for the inventory and the landlord for the checkout.
Either way, in our experience, both parties normally recognise it is fair for the cost of the inventory to be shared equally. If cost is an issue and is preventing you from protecting your property and its contents with a quality inventory service, perhaps sharing those costs could be a viable solution?
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