Independent inventory reporting is the perfect complement to the government’s proposed housing reforms.
That’s the view of the UK’s largest provider of inventory services, No Letting Go.
It says a clearer, single-route complaints system as proposed in the government’s Housing Complaints Resolution Service, can be supported by impartial, evidence-based documents such as independent inventories.
At the end of January, James Brokenshire, secretary of state at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, announced an overhaul of the existing housing redress system.
As well as proposals for landlords to join a redress scheme and the introduction of a new homes ombudsman, there was also the unveiling of plans for a Housing Complaints Resolution Service.
A Redress Reform Working Group is expected to report early in the summer with specific proposals for ministers to consider.
"We welcome the government's plans to reform housing redress and believe the new system will increase consumer confidence by providing a straight-forward and accessible complaints procedure” says Nick Lyons, No Letting Go’s chief executive and founder.
He supports making inventories mandatory and preferably independent as a way of complementing a beefed-up redress process.
"An impartial inventory and compliance report can be used as evidence by tenants making a complaint, or for protecting landlords and letting agents against unreasonable or unfounded tenant claims. It could give a complainant’s case more weight by showing and describing issues clearly” he says.
According to the Property Ombudsman's annual report 2017 - the latest available - the total amount of money awarded as a result of lettings complaints increased by 18 per cent from 2016 to a total of £931,092, almost treble the total handed out for sales complaints.
What's more, the average lettings award increased by 18 per cent while the number of resolved lettings cases increased by 11 per cent.
Management and communication and record keeping were the most common causes of complaints.
One of the official existing redress services, the Property Redress Scheme, has also found that poor inventories are a major reason letting agents are found culpable for not managing a property properly.
"As we can see, there is more activity in the lettings sector when it comes to complaints. This is why it’s so important that the new system is clear and uses evidence and documentation effectively, much like the tenancy deposit protection industry” adds Lyons.
"As is the case with deposit disputes, handled by tenancy deposit protection schemes, inventories can also prove truly valuable for landlords if they need to prove the condition of their property against an unfair or bogus complaint” Lyons continues.
No Letting Go operates 65 offices across the country offering pre-tenancy, check-in, property management and end of tenancy services.