The government has been called upon to make it compulsory and regulated to have an inventory in rental properties.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) has outlined the fact that many landlords chose not to have a professional inventory done. This is in spite of the fact that 12.5 per cent of over 20,000 tenants have had a deposit withheld before.
The most common reasons for withholding a deposit include cleaning and redecoration costs, details which could clearly be outlined in an inventory to avoid unnecessary fines at the end of a tenancy. It was discovered that a mere 70 per cent of tenants surveyed received an inventory and a description of the property and its contents at the onset of their tenancy.
Furthermore, it is unclear as to whether the reports that were issued were informally compiled by a landlord or through an accredited inventory clerk. Fair wear and tear is often a grey area for landlords and tenants, and thus can lead to a high level of disputes at the end of a tenancy if not properly considered beforehand. Disputes often involve a formal Alternative Dispute Resolution service that will side with the tenant if the landlord is unable to provide suitable evidence to support their claim, due to the fact that the tenants deposit allegedly belongs to them.
Joint chair of the AIIC, Danny Zane, said: ‘With the election over and a new housing minister now in place, it’s time for the government to think about housing and in particular the growing private rented sector, which now accounts for around a fifth of all households. Independent, third party inventories are a fundamentally important part of the lettings process and they need to be made obligatory.
‘In the past, politicians have been quick to praise the success of compulsory deposit protection – introduced in 2007. But if there is no unbiased inventory detailing the condition of the property at the beginning and end of the tenancy, then all this good work is undermined and it could be argued that taking deposits and protecting them is essentially rendered pointless. Landlords and letting agents should not be compiling what can very easily be considered as biased inventory reports that tenants must sign prior to getting access to their new home.’