Paperless office - impact on Inventories

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    Paperless office - impact on Inventories

    Hi All,

    I'm looking to go as paperless (within my letting agency) as possible.

    We have inventories that currently we create. Members of staff record an audio inventory, and this is transcribed by casual staff as required. It is backed up with around 50 photos per house. Each inventory runs from between 40 to 50 pages.

    So far we have never had an issue with our inventories being challenged in court, even if unsigned (we give the tenants 7 days to correct them, and get them to sign for the inventories when the keys are picked up). Lack of returned inventories is their issue, as far as we are concerned.

    My issue is, we manage well over a hundred houses now, most of them student ones. Each one has an inventory for us, and an inventory for the tenants. This amounts to around 13000 pages of text, not counting if we have to re-generate inventories if changed. This is quite a significant volume of paper, plus a high cost for us.

    I'm looking to create an online system (opt out for those that are not tech savvy) and give all tenants a log-on that lets them log on and make changes to the inventory. This will keep track of when the logon was issued to tenants, when they did log on, what changes they made, etc. We could then approve their changes (eg if they delete the item for 52" Plasma we would reject it, unless the TV definitely wasn't there ). If we have to go to court, we have a full log of what the inventory is, when the tenants logged on, what changes were made, an audit trail of changed inventories etc. I think we'll make it so we can upload third party inventories as well so if we do completely outsource inventories the system will still work OK.

    What do the peeps here think about this? Generally I am trying to get away from unnecessary paper and printing costs (not paperwork - we cannot avoid that in our game).

    Thanks in advance.
    Liability statement. My liability to you is not to exceed the amount you are paying for my recommendations or advice.

    I see a bright new future, where chickens can cross the road with no fear of having their motives questioned

    #2
    A 50 page schedule for a house! I never saw one that long for a factory or hotel.

    Comment


      #3
      I disagree, I feel that unless signed an inventory cannot be binding. A contract cannot be binding by stating that you'll assume so if you do not hear otherwise. A tenant could claim he was never given an inventory, could claim you've destroyed his original etc etc.

      I also agree with Lawcruncher - is 50 pages necessary? I produce schedule of conditions for large retail premises and the majority of them excluding photos are never in excess of 20-30 pages tops! The cost of doing a 50 page schedule for a residential property must be excessive.
      [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

      Comment


        #4
        They typically run to about 9 pages, then its two pictures per page (along with camera info such as time taken, ISO settings, image dimensions and sizes) - basically backs up when the photos were taken.
        Liability statement. My liability to you is not to exceed the amount you are paying for my recommendations or advice.

        I see a bright new future, where chickens can cross the road with no fear of having their motives questioned

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Wickerman View Post
          They typically run to about 9 pages, then its two pictures per page (along with camera info such as time taken, ISO settings, image dimensions and sizes) - basically backs up when the photos were taken.
          Can't comment on the legality of your on-line idea, but surely it would be at least a simple step to move to CDs for your 40-odd pages of pictures, as an appendix to the written document? (Two copies of the CD; both signed and dated with a marker pen by all parties?)

          Comment


            #6
            Apparently Foxtons use this system and it's deemed perfectly legal so it appears to be okay.
            The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

            Comment


              #7
              Remember doing work in IT on "paperless office" over 30 years ago - since then consumption of paper has continued to increase, year-on-year..

              I'd stick with paper, cheaper, easier, less prone to "IT Corrosion" (losing everything thanks to technical - or more likely malicious staff member - problems..).

              Does you paperless office include the toilets??
              I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

              Comment


                #8
                Sounds like a good idea to be fair, wouldn't mind seeing Foxton's version. We operate a similar system with our inventories but email a pdf of the photo sheets instead of printing them, we also aim for 6-9 photos per sheet where possible.
                <a href="http://www.manchesterpropertygroup.co.uk/" target="_blank">Manchester letting agents</a>

                Comment


                  #9
                  The trick is to have system that tracks each amendment- the big boys can afford bespoke software, but you might have to use Word and track changes, or a licenced Adobe so that a final version is established and can be verified.

                  Your website can create secure spaces or initially with free/low costs spaces eg Windows sky drive, or numerous file sharing sites and allow access to photos, as long as hi res can easily be uploaded. A CD, mmm; these days a cheap password protected stick as hi res is more dvd size than CD, is better.

                  Even if you have 300 to 500 units keeping essential docs only eg inventory and tenancy clients contract, service agreements/warranties gas certs etc, is only going to be a filing cabinet worth, and if you immediately archive them on completion it might be cheaper than getting the software boys in.

                  With a small portfolio of 80 odd I trimmed out 5 cabinets down to a two drawer under desk cabinet and used email/word and sticks up to signature of the final docs. If you scan the finals in and link them to your software, then they need not even be on site.

                  As I have yet to have been asked to provide the negatives to prove the photos were not tampered with, I am sure the digital record, in the hands of both parties, is going to be acceptable.
                  Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Wickerman View Post
                    we manage well over a hundred houses now, most of them student ones.

                    (eg if they delete the item for 52" Plasma we would reject it, unless the TV definitely wasn't there )
                    What I'm alarmed about is how a student house gets 50" plasma TV's, when I, a long time working adult, have never seen a plasma TV up close, never mind afford to buy one. I mean gees, tut tut (shaking head, etc).

                    Is this where students are wasting their dosh on nowadays?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by AardvarkFan View Post
                      What I'm alarmed about is how a student house gets 50" plasma TV's, when I, a long time working adult, have never seen a plasma TV up close, never mind afford to buy one. I mean gees, tut tut (shaking head, etc).

                      Is this where students are wasting their dosh on nowadays?
                      Well, I had a leaflet through my door the other day plugging rental equipment: it seems you can rent a 42" Panasonic for under a tenner a week. Divide that by the eight students sharing an HMO (as I know my student daughter does) and it's about the cost of a couple of cans of beans.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by leaseholdanswers View Post
                        The trick is to have system that tracks each amendment- the big boys can afford bespoke software, but you might have to use Word and track changes
                        That would be trivially easy to fake - just change the date on the PC and the name of the Word user, and Bob's your uncle.

                        A CD, mmm; these days a cheap password protected stick as hi res is more dvd size than CD, is better.
                        Well you'd get 120-odd 5Mb jpeg files on a CD - but OK, if you must; a DVD then: a read-only CD or DVD is a far better option than a memory stick. It gets files written to it once, and then after it's been 'finalised' cannot be touched again, so its contents and file datestamps are unequivocally fixed (and verified by the signatures of landlord and tenant written on said disk). I don't know how you'd achieve that with a memory stick. And don't forget that whatever method is chosen potentially has to be readily understandable by a judge in court.

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