by Simon Thomas
10:28 AM, 23rd June 2011, About 12 years ago
Landlords and tenants who find themselves disagreeing over property inventories now have a foolproof way of settling disputes – high definition video evidence.
Video inventories act as visual support to a written inventory and can be used at all parts of a tenancy agreement: the start (the property’s contents, state of repair and meter readings); the interim (ensuring both parties are meeting their obligations); and, of course at the end (when any claims against the rental deposit will be made).
As all landlords should now be aware, they can no longer legally keep a tenant’s deposit themselves. It has to be held by one of three regulated bodies, but what they might be unaware of, is that currently 92% of landlord/tenant disputes are found in favour of the tenant, mainly due to the lack of convincing evidence.
Since The Video Inventory Agency was formed in 2007, it has only had three of its clients involved in disputed landlord/tenancy claims and all were quickly resolved in their favour once the video was produced.
Frazer Fearnhead, founding director of The Video Inventory Agency, said:
“Very few people can argue when the video evidence is produced. And even the knowledge that it exists is an important incentive not to get into a disagreement about who said what when it comes to a tenancy agreement.
“A written document is still of course the backbone to any tenancy agreement, but a video adds that vital element of indisputable evidence that both parties, landlord as well as tenant, have to respect. It means that the whole process becomes objective, rather than subjective. It removes the element of doubt and should matters go to court, offers a vital guidance for anyone sitting in judgement.”
But as Mr Fearnhead points out, it’s not just a question of ‘doing a quick video’ and hoping it will suffice. He adds:
“This is not amateur video hour. Our operatives are not only skilled with the video camera, but they are first and foremost trained in drawing up a workable and credible inventory. They know how the video evidence has to integrate with the written report, and how it should all be verified on the day.
“And by agreeing to use an external inventory agency, both landlord and tenant agree to the impartiality offered by ourselves, the third party. We are there to draw-up a record of fact, not to produce someone’s view of what the facts should be. This is important for both parties to understand.”
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