The modern inventory clerk is witnessing a sea of changes within the UK property market. Shifts in the private rented sector (PRS) such as new and looming legislation concerning residential properties require inventory professionals to stay informed on property trends and incoming legislation.
Being aware of how industry changes affect their services, as well as those of their clients, including landlords and agents, and their services, enables inventory clerks to continue providing top-notch support and guidance, without which there’s the risk that these professionals could lose their credibility by overlooking something within their service.
To avoid falling behind, conscientious inventory clerks need to adapt to the changing nature of their work. That’s why we’ve assembled advice on the top five things every inventory clerk should know, to ensure they’re offering an optimum service that reacts to market changes.
1. Key Legislation
An inventory clerk needs to be able to pivot their services to meet the challenges of a changing property landscape. Two major areas that they should monitor are the property and PRS laws that govern their own as well as lettings agents’ and landlords’ practices. It’s vitally important to stay up to date on developments so they can support both parties’ businesses.
Such awareness can be maintained by keeping an eye on industry news. Organisations such as Propertymark regularly publish updates and guides on their website. For example, in 2019 the industry body issued guidance regarding the upcoming changes surrounding inventory reports. The article informed readers (in advance) that the Tenant Fees Act would usher in fundamental changes regarding who pays for inventory checks and reports after 1st June 2019.
It explained that following this date “The Act bans fees which means that tenants cannot be charged for extra services, including independent inventories”. Knowing that “Landlords might then have to cover this cost themselves” is best practice so that there’s no misunderstanding on the part of the inventory clerk.
It pays to understand emerging property laws such as the Renters Reform Bill as well as developments such as how EPC changes affect property inspections. Likewise, the mandatory fitting of carbon monoxide alarms in all rental properties with “any kind of fixed combustion appliance, including gas boilers” has been in force since Oct 2022, and with the potential to save lives, inventory clerks should be reporting back to the client if this requirement is not being followed.
An inventory professional should also keep abreast of industry viewpoints. Regarding the aforementioned Renters Reform Bill, the landlord news site Property Reporter states that the AIIC Chair Daniel Evans has prompted the Government to “include measures in the Renters Reform Bill that will guarantee more transparency and independence in the inventory process”.
Evans has “urged the Government to introduce measures in the Renters Reform Bill … to ensure inventories are carried out by qualified, independent inventory clerks”. Knowing what’s happening or planned within their industry, helped by reading articles, contributes towards an inventory clerk’s development.
Another area that aids development in the industry is Propertymark, the professional body for the property sector. Becoming an ARLA Propertymark Accredited Inventory Provider equips inventory professionals with the information and insight needed to thrive in the industry.
The property industry can see patterns of conflict arise between tenants and their landlords. Consequently, an inventory clerk plays a vital role in averting disagreement and confusion between different parties, preferably before they arise.
One frequent source of disputes is the tenants’ failure to understand their responsibility to clean the property at the end of their tenancy. Indeed, the professional body PropertyMark advises that inventory reports should “provide a clear description of the property's condition and cleanliness, avoiding subjective language like 'sparkly clean'”.
This needs to take place prior to the incoming tenant moving into the property, for an accurate picture. The inclusion of accompanying photographs (with dates) has the potential to help landlords claim reimbursement from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This can include cleaning costs that exceed fair wear and tear.
Inventory clerks can also help to reduce tension regarding the maintenance of a rental property’s garden. Popular landlord irritations include weeds and unmowed lawns, untreated fences as well as overgrown shrubbery. This topic is especially divisive during the summer months when gardens require more frequent upkeep.
The Deposit Scheme found that 75% of the 2,000 landlords and letting agents saw garden maintenance as “down to the tenant” but “the problem is that the tenant doesn’t always know this”. This is why inventory professionals need to provide a “benchmark to work to” in terms of how the garden should be kept until the end of a tenancy.
They can then compare the outside space to the inventory during seasonal inventory inspections.
New industry-related tools have the potential to assist an inventory clerk when undertaking these visits. Technology such as Inventory Base’s inventory clerk software has been helping inventory professionals adapt to the shifting property market since 2011. Winning multiple awards, this premium tool is an essential item in the modern inventory clerk’s arsenal.
The software features flexible, custom-built, bespoke templates. It helps inventory professionals to complete more reports faster. This helps forge stronger working relationships with clients such as landlords, property managers and letting agents who’ll have full confidence in inventory clerks with this technology. Using Inventory Base software helps inventory professionals rise above the competition, attracting new business and taking service delivery to a whole new level.
Useful features include the ability to auto-embed high-quality photos, 360° pictures and video directly into reports. Offering inventory clerks authority, these detailed property reports enable them to provide a comprehensive service for everyone involved in letting the property.
This technology also enhances clerk-client support and communication by providing a place for the client to log in and access direct bookings, report access, and information. Inventory clerks can leave an in-depth audio dictation for their own/clients’ reference later on. Landlords, tenants and agents can leave comments and upload pictures. Additionally, with auto-capture of shared history, the risk of disputes is minimised by providing detailed evidence of all communications.
Reducing the time spent on admin, an inventory clerk’s findings, suggested actions and liability recommendations can be highlighted and communicated via the app directly to the client or responsible team to manage. Relevant parties are able to receive signed reports either at the property or once the inventory professional has returned to their office to complete the information chain and create a golden thread of data for all stakeholders to view and interrogate.
With a multitude of tools and constant innovation and development, these helpful features arm every inventory clerk with a dashboard to manage multiple clients, properties, and tasks. Inventory Base is the software that they can rely on for every report, every day, streamlining and unifying the inventory reporting processes.
To continue to support other players in the property sector, an inventory clerk should complete regular continued professional development (CPD) courses. After all, their diligence when compiling inventory checks and reports can determine the success of a landlord-tenant or landlord-agent partnership. Any unnoticed errors or miscommunication could result in conflict or lost compensation for landlords from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
To meet their obligations, inventory clerks need to attend professional inventory management training, which can bring a number of benefits. For example, trained professionals take measurably less time to conduct tasks, make fewer mistakes and can improve the overall standard of tenancies, which subsequently reduces the number of disputes leading to arbitration. Plugging any “gaps” in an inventory clerk’s knowledge can therefore result in a return on one’s investment as unnecessary disagreements can be avoided.
The trusted InventoryBase Academy will supplement the inventory clerks’ knowledge with professional courses and continuous development. Both practical classroom teaching and self-paced learning are available to equip inventory professionals at all levels.
5. Market Context
A thriving property market and PRS means that there will be sufficient demand for trained inventory professionals both now and in the future. This particularly applies to inventory clerks who understand how one legislative change can undermine the market with additional barriers to entry seen among landlords.
Arguably, the lynchpin between landlords, tenants and letting agents, inventory clerks create an accurate picture of each property they inspect before, during and after a tenancy. Their records act as the foundation for a successful landlord-tenant relationship and should once more be accurate and detailed to avoid distress or loss of landlord revenue.
Generally speaking, undermined confidence in inventory clerks’ accuracy could reach far beyond their reports. Their findings, therefore, need to be informed to avoid undermined confidence in the PRS. Accessing regular training helps to improve the property sector overall, buoying the wider property market’s reputation. Otherwise, a weakened PRS will see fewer inquiries for inventory clerks.
Set yourself apart with Inventory Base
Any inventory clerk who is comfortable with the five areas outlined above is sure to thrive in the ever-changing PRS. From monitoring and comprehending new legislation to reducing the potential for landlord-tenant disputes, it’s essential that inventory professionals track and understand developments affecting their industry so that they offer a service that’s fit for purpose.
Utilising award-winning Inventory Base technology for accurate inventory checks, reports and inspections, alongside the InventoryBase Academy library of courses, inventory professionals can continually strengthen the property industry they depend on for work.
Book your Inventory Base demo here to set yourself apart in a highly competitive industry.