Over dinner with friends recently we got on to the subject of property inventories (I must stress I wasn’t talking about work on a night out!). One of my friends had recently rented a property and had signed an inventory that consisted solely of pictures. Too my horror he had said that he thought it was a great way to put an inventory together as it would be totally accurate!

After nearly choking on my dessert (chocolate torte – in case you’re interested) I started to ask him about the ins and outs of the report.  How were the details, like scuffs and scrapes recorded? Were the pictures dated? What sort of resolution were the pictures?

And – I can’t believe I’m writing this -when I asked how clear the colours were on the pictures he said “They were printed in black and white, as the landlord’s colour ink had run out” After picking myself up off the floor – I went home and started writing this blog.

Pictures are important – no question – but they are a support tool. A way of highlighting the information that has been seen and recorded with an inventory clerks eyes.  The report my friend had been given had been produced by his new landlord the day before he moved in – with an old mobile phone camera and a bog-standard printer – but even with the highest res camera available a picture only inventory just isn’t enough.

Inventories are designed to provide a detailed account of the state of the property at the start of the tenancy. The best ones are concise and methodically written. Photos help by showing points of interest and large areas of damage.

Photos are useful for showing the general position of furniture and décor of each room – but without descriptions of the condition of the things in the pictures they prove nothing. In pictures shadows can distort the view and hide obvious marks on carpets or stains on walls.

Deposits belong to the tenants until the landlord or agent can prove that they should pay for any damage at the end of the tenancy. In the case of my friend he should be quite pleased, as a black and white set of photos will almost certainly be impossible to be used as proof in a dispute. The required level of detail is simply not there.

Coming back into work the next day made me so proud of what we’ve created with InventoryBase. The system is designed to allow clerks to create inventories that can be completed in a step by step manner – which means that both the landlord and tenant end up with a detailed inventory, including the date of the report with both descriptions and photos of the property.  In the case of my friend I’ve asked him to pass on our contact details to his landlord!

To find out more about InventoryBase click here.