Agent check-in vs check-out reports - format and level of detail

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  • Tungsten
    replied
    Originally posted by Lawcruncher View Post

    Otherwise reasonable landlords can have unreasonable expectations. That is (in part) why we have the deposit legislation and also explains (in part) why many landlords are disappointed at adjudication.
    Indeed. This was a concern to me over the years but in the end, there weren't any issues with the outgoing tenants. Yes, some marks on carpets, scuffs on doors and paintwork but nothing unexpected after this many years. Compared to the rental income, the cost of new carpets and repairs is fairly insignificant.

    All of my concerns have been on the processes of the agents.

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  • Lawcruncher
    replied
    Originally posted by Tungsten View Post
    Half of this is about knowing what our reasonable expectations should be, the other half knowing when to push for something to be done.
    Otherwise reasonable landlords can have unreasonable expectations. That is (in part) why we have the deposit legislation and also explains (in part) why many landlords are disappointed at adjudication.

    If you have a property in good condition and let it short term you may say to yourself that it is reasonable that the tenant returns in the condition in which he took it. You then expect the next tenant to do the same. However, if you stop and think you will realise that that cannot go on indefinitely.

    There is a rule of thumb test to apply to see if you are being reasonable. You stand back and ask if the state of the property is such that it would put off a reasonable prospective tenant and if the rent obtainable would be higher if the property were in immaculate condition. You apply the reasonable owner-occupier test. All properties suffer minor wants of repair and decoration. Is the defect one which a reasonable owner-occupier would rush to repair? If your conclusion is that the rental value of the property is not affected then you should be relaxed about pursuing the tenant for dilapidations - it is highly likely that any financial gain will be proportionate to the amount of time you have to spend getting it.

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  • Tungsten
    replied
    Originally posted by Stef Cooke View Post
    They get checked at the end so the LL/LA has time to fix them before the next tenancy, should the tenant have absconded with the batteries
    Yep, this is why we chose to put wired alarms in at the start of the project. Still need to be tested though, so we'll add that to our list of issues with the agents.

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  • Stef Cooke
    replied
    But if it's now a requirement at the end, we should see a mention.

    You will find a note in the regs that the tenant is responsible for maintaining them in working order throughout the tenancy, so they should be working when they leave. They get checked at the end so the LL/LA has time to fix them before the next tenancy, should the tenant have absconded with the batteries

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  • Tungsten
    replied
    Originally posted by Stef Cooke View Post
    At the end of the tenancy they have to be checked again, to be sure the tenant didn't take the batteries out for "something more important" - more common than you might think! This is not a matter of dilapidations, it is a prime H+S issue and has to be checked and confirmed, by law!
    That's interesting. I can imagine If the requirement was only to check at the start of tenancy, it would explain it as our tenancy predates 2015. But if it's now a requirement at the end, we should see a mention.

    Do you know if an indepenedent clerk did the inventory etc? Or if the agent did it themselves? If the latter find another agent! The one you have is letting you down, badly!
    The agent gave a strong indication that they carried out the report. I'll check this.

    Regarding the various issues with photographic records - duly noted. Thanks.

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  • Stef Cooke
    replied
    I have seen those! Helpful landlords who offer me a disc crammed full of pictures... yay! Or the local agent who waves his iPad around and calls it a video inventory! I can't use them, don't imagine any adjudicator would accept them either.

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  • jpkeates
    replied
    My guess (and it is a guess) is that pictures are in all kind of formats, are usually not very well taken and people take hundreds of them and dump them all on the adjudicator.

    So they get 25 badly composed images of a damaged radiator that take half an hour to download in HEIC format.

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  • Stef Cooke
    replied
    This feels contradictory to the dilapidations only rule. The smoke alarms could have been tested with no issue found so no mention. Unless they fall under a specific rule of always being listed?

    It became normal SOP when the law about smoke alarms came in, in 2015. There has to be a specific statement about where they are, whether there are eough, in the right places, CO alarms too and if, at the beginning of the tenancy they repsonded to the test button. At the end of the tenancy they have to be checked again, to be sure the tenant didn't take the batteries out for "something more important" - more common than you might think! This is not a matter of dilapidations, it is a prime H+S issue and has to be checked and confirmed, by law!

    From your last post you seem to have a few reasonable things to push:
    General lack of communication - you are paying them for a service, after all
    Utility readings - really are an essential part of a check out. I'd lose all my work if I didn't include them!

    Do you know if an indepenedent clerk did the inventory etc? Or if the agent did it themselves? If the latter find another agent! The one you have is letting you down, badly!

    As for the pictures, there are a lot of reasons behind the adjudicators preference... pictures can be modified, dates changed, may be of enitrely dfferent places etc. The immediate judgement of an unbiased person is their preference.

    However your viewpoint is not at all unusual. Landlords and tenant ALWAYS prefer pictures. Adjudicators and property managers (trhe ones who go though the reports, prefer the words. It isn't so much for less work load but for a concise comparison. And yes, they do tend to take a clerks word... cos that's what we exist for... unbiased 3rd parties with some training! Which is why agents shouldn't do them in house!

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  • Tungsten
    replied
    Originally posted by Stef Cooke View Post
    All check outs should have a sentence that says that if a thing is NOT mentioned it is Much as at Check In... that is how it works, industry standard. The check out is a report of the dilapidations only
    No specific sentence stating that, but thanks for clarifying this is how it's done.

    What you call subsidence cracks are usually referred to as settlement cracking and are NOT part of the tenants responsibility, they happen... your issue if they get bad/worse over time. A clerk won't assess them, may mention them, but we are not surveyors!
    Yep, I wasn't suggesting the tenants were responsible just that I'd have expected a brief mention of visual changes like that. No expectation of a structural report!

    A button was missing on the power shower, so quite visible.

    On the damp issue, this is roughly a 3 foot area of ceiling blistering and going black in places, running at least the same distance down the wall (which would be empty and easily visible at inspection), so I don't feel I'm fussing over little details. It's possible the area was previously hidden behind personal items, so we're not necessasrily holding the tenants responsible.

    All check outs carry a note that all Landlords are advised to double check their properties at the end of every tenancy.
    No mention that we double check or amend as required, although clearly it's good practice which is why the journey was made.

    We also prompted the agent early on to ask the tenants about any issues we should be made aware of but didn't hear back, which has been a recurring theme.

    The intercommunication skills are definitely lacking. "I contacted the tenants and they reported no specific issues" would've helped. Instead, that and other questions go into a black void. This individual doesn't reliably go through a checklist, action as required, report back on findings even if to confirm that no issues are found.

    It's taken multiple requests to get the utility readings (requested all three early on) and were still waiting on the water 2 weeks after the property was vacated. It looks like it wasn't taken during the check-out at all. Agent said they will do it when they're next at the property...

    Pictures ar eoften lacking in reports generated via an App - I hate the bloody things. You asked what is the reasoning behind adjudicators not liking them: they say,every year, that what they want is the on the spot opinion, judgement, of the clerk and will use the pictures as a back up if necessary. ALL of the schemes say the same, every year!
    Sounds like they just want less workload and take the clerk's word, but a photo in the first instance would only make things clear and save time, money and disagreements. So, can't say that makes a whole lot of sense.

    HOWEVER - your comment about them not having checked the smoke / CO alarms is worrying. THAT should ALWAYS BE DONE at the beginning and end of a tenancy, by every clerk!
    This feels contradictory to the dilapidations only rule. The smoke alarms could have been tested with no issue found so no mention. Unless they fall under a specific rule of always being listed?

    Thanks again! Half of this is about knowing what our reasonable expectations should be, the other half knowing when to push for something to be done.
    Last edited by Tungsten; 20-08-2019, 19:07 PM. Reason: Shower button info.

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  • Stef Cooke
    replied
    Our concern is that if the report contains only the differences, we're reliant on the person carrying it out to notice all discrepancies and log.

    Yes. That is how it works. Best f that voice i independent

    Eg, if an item is absent from the report it's ambiguous, as it could have been overlooked whereas stating it leaves it in no doubt - that something has been spotted, listed and confirmed in good/complete order or not.

    All check outs should have a sentence that says that if a thing is NOT mentioned it is Much as at Check In... that is how it works, industry standard. The check out is a report of the dilapidations only

    The main gripe is that even listing the differences, it's incomplete. It doesn't mention un-working appliances, broken buttons, a damaged door catch, significant signs of damp/damage in one area, subsidence/wall cracks. They just weren't mentioned (and they weren't visible issues at check-in either).


    Non working appliance - clerks do not trest appliances. Your tenant shoudl have reported i. Agent may catch it in pre-tenancy check, electrician when PAT testing. But clekr s don't test applainces, we just describe their visual condition. We're not electricians
    Broken buttons - depends on what and how you mean broken - something visikle, yes, functional, no, see above
    Damaged door catch - easily missed if the door is already open and checked visually. I don't necessarily close every door behind me - especially since I got locked into a bedroom by a faulty door catch, with my phone in anohter room!
    Signs of damp - should have been seen and a quick assessment made - damp or issues with ventilation.
    What you call subsidence cracks are usually referred to as settlement cracking and are NOT part of the tenants responsibility, they happen... your issue if they get bad/worse over time. A clerk won't assess them, may mention them, but we are not surveyors!

    We've only identified these issues by travelling some distance to the property and viewing ourselves since we already had concerns over how things were being handled.

    That's your job. All check outs carry a note that all Landlords are advised to double check their properties at the end of every tenancy.

    Pictures ar eoften lacking in reports generated via an App - I hate the bloody things. You asked what is the reasoning behind adjudicators not liking them: they say,every year, that what they want is the on the spot opinion, judgement, of the clerk and will use the pictures as a back up if necessary. ALL of the schemes say the same, every year!

    HOWEVER - your comment about them not having checked the smoke / CO alarms is worrying. THAT should ALWAYS BE DONE at the beginning and end of a tenancy, by every clerk!

    I hope some of that helps.

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  • Tungsten
    replied
    Thanks for the detailed replies.

    Originally posted by Stef Cooke View Post
    What do you want to PUSH for? If you mean a complete inventory update then that is not what is required, you only get one of those once the property is re-let, after any refurbishments.
    Our concern is that if the report contains only the differences, we're reliant on the person carrying it out to notice all discrepancies and log.

    Eg, if an item is absent from the report it's ambiguous, as it could have been overlooked whereas stating it leaves it in no doubt - that something has been spotted, listed and confirmed in good/complete order or not.

    The main gripe is that even listing the differences, it's incomplete. It doesn't mention un-working appliances, broken buttons, a damaged door catch, significant signs of damp/damage in one area, subsidence/wall cracks. They just weren't mentioned (and they weren't visible issues at check-in either).

    We've only identified these issues by travelling some distance to the property and viewing ourselves since we already had concerns over how things were being handled.

    The check out should include room pictures, so you can see the general condition, and pictures of the differences with a note as to whether they are FWT, maintenance or could attract a proportional compensation charge
    They only sent a few close-up photos, not of all the issues highlighted in their own report. Certainly no wide views of rooms/carpets/walls/skirting boards/ceilings.

    It should include a note about smoke/CO alarms having had the test buttons pressed
    No mention of that.

    Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
    As a general note, if there's ever a dispute about the property that goes to adjudication, the adjudicators don't like photographs.
    What's the reasoning there? Surely photos are the best way of settling a dispute and removing subjectivity.

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  • jpkeates
    replied
    Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, a condition report and an inventory are really two separate things.
    The latter is essentially a list, catalogue of what's in the property (which is essential for a furnished property) and the condition report documents the state of the property and the items on the inventory.

    Obviously, that could be combined into one document, but it's generally helpful to call that something like inventory/condition report.

    As a general note, if there's ever a dispute about the property that goes to adjudication, the adjudicators don't like photographs.

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  • Stef Cooke
    replied
    Hi, I am an inventory clerk and my check outs only note the differences - that is all they need. You have the ingoing inventory with all the detail and the check out provides you with a list of the changes. The check out should include room pictures, so you can see the general condition, and pictures of the differences with a note as to whether they are FWT, maintenance or could attract a proportional compensation charge, etc. It should include a note about smoke/CO alarms having had the test buttons pressed, any non working light bulbs and standard of cleaning.


    Two identical inventory reports are performed during every tenancy I am not sure that is entirely true, there are 3 of them, but most organisatons (Tenants Voice here??) seem to describe the inventory and check in as one document, whereas they are 2 separate reports and should be conducted separately.

    So, to answer your question, the brief report may well be all that can be provided, if the tenant left the property Much as at Check In (an oft used phrase).

    What do you want to PUSH for? If you mean a complete inventory update then that is not what is required, you only get one of those once the property is re-let, after any refurbishments.

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  • Agent check-in vs check-out reports - format and level of detail

    Hi,

    When a agent compiles a check out report/inventory, should it usually follow the same format and level of detail as the initial check in?

    Good practice examples online state something along these lines:
    "The inventory report is a document, accompanied with digital media, that documents the property, its contents and their condition. Two identical inventory reports are performed during every tenancy – one before the tenant moves in with their luggage and another one when the tenant moves out with all their belongings. These reports are imperative to both landlords and tenants because they legally benchmark the quality of the property for future reference."

    How often is that followed in practice? Our's has only provided only a brief report listing just the differences to the original (more comprehensive) report.

    Since I'm relatively new to letting, I'm trying to decide how hard to push them on this.

    Any input appreciated.

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