Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Three Words That Can Save The Day

Three words can make or break deposit disputes between landlords and tenants … inventory, inventory, inventory.

“Just as ‘location’ is a key word in buying a property, ‘inventory’ is a key word in renting it,” says Greg Greatbatch, Director of the country’s leading residential lettings specialist in Andover, Belvoir, which has an office on Winchester Street.

Disagreements over the condition of property, at the end of a tenancy, is a major reason for disputes arising over how much of the tenant’s deposit should be returned, because landlords often deduct the cost of cleaning, replacing or repairing household items, furniture and furnishings that tenants say were like that when they moved in.

“A good quality inventory with clear photographs - agreed, signed and dated by both landlord and tenant – can overcome all argument about the condition of a property and its contents,” says Greg who runs the Belvoir office on Winchester Street in Andover “What would otherwise be a matter of opinion becomes a matter of fact.”

“When you consider that, according to current Land Registry data, the average property price in Britain is now £225,000, it makes a lot of sense for landlords to protect their assets with a quality inventory. Professional lettings agents such as Belvoir are very experienced in carrying out a thorough and detailed inventory report – providing a solid assurance to landlords that their interests are well protected.”

There are other basic ways of making sure that relationships run smoothly.

When a tenancy starts, the landlord and tenant should each keep jointly signed tenancy agreements that set out terms, conditions, obligations and responsibilities on both sides. If a property in not fully managed and the landlord does not have an agent, they should both be present to go through the property, discuss any concerns and agree the inventory.

Tenants should also meet up with landlords or their agents for any periodic inspections during the tenancy – at least two or three times a year to ensure there are not any serious problems with the property.

Landlords should keep relevant invoices, bills, work records and household receipts as evidence of expenditure, whilst tenants should keep copies of household bills, since they should not be arranging for any works or alterations to a rented property without first consulting the landlord or agent.

And when the tenancy is over both parties should be present at the ‘check-out’ to discuss any problems and reach agreement over any deductions from the deposit.

“Accidents happen but so does normal wear and tear,” adds Greg “If both landlords and tenants stay realistic then many quarrels can be settled before there’s any need for the dispute resolution process.

“In fact there is another key factor in all this – it’s called ‘communication’. Done properly, it can save an awful lot of trouble.”