Inventory clerks can often be totally overlooked throughout the lettings process. A recent blog posted by Apropos pointed out how much the agent and landlord relationship has changed due to the pandemic and how crucial advising and supporting of landlords and tenants is as we experience yet another wave is going to be key to a sustainable future for both.
This is not a unique pairing though. Inventory providers have long acted as a mediator between parties when it comes to deposit disputes and with the extended ban on evictions, there is likely to be more ‘hand holding’ needed as I can see a storm brewing at checkouts (when they finally happen), if the numbers being predicted go through the court process.
As a provider myself; I strongly believe that it is a vital part of my job to ensure that agents and landlords are up to date on current legislative changes and requirements. I know you would expect both to know their role, be up to speed on the ever changing government policies and the related impacts to the private rented sector (PRS).
As I discovered during the lead up to and implementation of the Tenant Fee Ban, this is not always the case.
I often found myself advising how the ban would affect their business, pointing out key considerations and highlighting required steps to make both their service, and by extension, our services, compliant.
And if you think about it; inventory clerks are literally the final cog in the lettings process and as such, they have a unique responsibility to ensure that risks and issues seen whilst compiling the report are both noted and acted upon often at the very last moment before the tenant arrives to collect keys and move into their new home.
But not everything is as transparent or easy to spot. They can be subtle remarks that send warning signals about potential issues with tenants (and sometimes landlords) or be more visual such as doors not closing to the frame, no fire safety seals, leaks or missing window keys or include smoke detectors not beeping when pushed.
All have the potential to cause harm or injury to the tenant, but would possibly go unseen if it were not for a keen eye, detailed report and willingness to ‘go that extra mile’ often with little more reward than the report fee.
Inventory providers are so much more than clerks.
They are business owners in their own right and as such feel and have to manage the same difficulties, worries and concerns most if not all businesses are currently experiencing. This makes providers a core resource to be nurtured and relied upon, rather than just tapped and exploited when it comes to the dance that it is ‘how little can I pay for a report’ – which is a merry go round I refuse to go on.
But such issues build experiences and can provide solutions to problems never before faced as well as highlighting alternatives that may never have even been considered if it were not for the pandemic.
Crisis breeds innovation, and one thing that is certainly true; inventory providers are well versed at managing difficult situations and spotting a problem often before it materialises.
Our ability to manage the tricky tenant-landlord relationship is a real skill, as is being able to support, advise, and guide them through both the tenancy process and the difficult times we all now face. Such skills are developed over time, and are derived from shared experiences and the diverse backgrounds of clerks and providers.
Many current providers have moved into property inspections from other careers – ranging from ex letting agents, police, trades, landlords turned clerks, 30+ year builders, surveyors and property managers and, as in my case, ex Prison Governors.
As an industry we talk a lot about quality, evidence and report turnaround times – but how much do you know about the person behind the mask as I can tell you now; it’s not the report fairy that delivers the inventory to your desktop 😉
With increased financial stresses, restrictions that are crippling some quarters of the economy and impacting the ability of the tenant to keep on top of their rent payments; the landlord and letting agents’ lot is quite a complicated one. This can mean that inventory providers are often the stable voice in a hue of confusion and noise, as further restrictions continue to impact the private rented sector (PRS).
Communicating regularly with all key stakeholders, suppliers and support strands of the tenancy process is vital to ensuring that information is clear, understood and not lost or misinterpreted so that everyone remains supported and informed.
This means talking to and with everyone; including the inventory clerk who is often overlooked but is both an essential and, dare I say, vital resource. A real person behind their mask.