Why is inventory report training so important to the lettings industry? The lettings industry relies on specialists, just like any other business sector, to carry out safety checks, repair properties or help the property market to move forward. Inventory providers and clerks are an essential part of the process.
Conveyancers, agents, engineers, plumbers, electricians – are the professionals that are doing all the heavy lifting and are relied upon to provide indispensable services when it comes to running a successful lettings market. However, there is also an underutilised specialist who should be held in the same regard and spoken of in the same breath: the inventory clerk.
It is easy to dismiss the role of an inventory provider as an unnecessary professionalisation of a common-sense function, but the range of skills they each bring to the table can be vast and yet go mostly unnoticed.
Why is that?
In my experience, the lack of understanding around the role is down to a simple fact; the inventory is not a mandatory requirement in the lettings process. A prescribed document, no different to the AST, EPC, safety certificate, would provide a better platform for both learning and understanding of the vital role property reports play.
A comprehensive and robust report underpins and supports the deposit process and has the potential to lose the tenants their deposit due to spurious claims or the landlord access to monies to pay for cleaning or damage caused during the tenancy. But without a mandatory requirement for reports and inventory report training, it’s easy for them to be dismissed out of hand or not afforded the professional respect they deserve.
The inventory (interim and check out) report is seen, in some quarters, as either not necessary so the property is let without any written evidence or an additional financial burden so landlords and or agents complete them ‘in-house’ in order to save money despite the fact that most inventories cost less than 1% of the deposit so the return on investment – (ROI) is high.
This is why inventory report training is so important in the lettings sector.
Although vital and important to reduce disputes, property reports are about so much more. The systematic noting of the property which is a physical, demanding role that commands a high level of detail and even more patience by the provider, is a huge job in it’s own right. A good report will flush out safety issues and provide a platform for future maintenance tasks. A tick box report of the good, bad and the ugly is not sufficient to provide the body of evidence deposit scheme adjudicators need to make a balanced, fair decision. Nor should it be seen as a vehicle to increase an agents profit margin.
Inventory reports are among the most important documents that can impact on the relationship between landlord and tenant, so no tenancy should begin without a comprehensive inventory of a property’s structure, décor, services and utilities, fixtures, fittings, contents and furnishings. If the tenant is taking on responsibility for the care and maintenance of the property (within the legal provisions of the tenancy agreement), it is vital that both parties agree on the content and condition of everything from the start.
The same process must be followed at the end of the tenancy to determine whether the tenant’s deposit can be returned in full or in part and to make sure any loss or damage is remedied or recompensed.
No party enters into a tenancy agreement expecting to have a bad experience or expecting the worst case scenario, but sometimes the unexpected does happen. It is infinitely more preferable to have comprehensive, documented evidence with which to resolve any dispute that may arise over loss or damage, whether accidental or malicious rather than leave it all to chance, fingers crossed hoping it won’t all end in tears. Investing in the right training, advice and guidance is key to providing a quality service in support of the lettings industry.
Inventory clerk training
Inventory Base Academy was formed in 2019 to standardise the reporting sector by training clerks to deliver detailed inventory and check reports supported by regular property inspections. The core aim is to bring about a much needed change and spread awareness across the industry of the need to carry out professional reports not just once, but for each and every report, for every tenancy.
Historically, reports are carried out mostly by independent clerks but with no requirement for training, insurance, DBS checks or any oversight even though there are currently two clerk associations that represent their members; ARLA and AIIC.
The growth in the lettings industry has inevitably attracted new businesses offering inspection services as it’s often seen as an easy way to earn revenue with very little training and or outlay. But there are no short-cuts when it comes to compiling reports that should protect key assets; the property and the tenants deposit. Investment in expert inventory report training is crucial to fulfilling the role of protecting the interests of the landlord and tenant, which is why the right training, CPD accreditation and support now counts for so much when it comes to reducing deposit disputes.
What should inventory report training look like?
Inventory report training and inventory clerk training needs to encompass every aspect of the report type and life cycle of the tenancy to ensure all bases, information and evidence points are covered.
Inventory Base Academy delivers a CPD certified comprehensive course – How to Produce Professional Property Reports – with sections devoted to cementing the reporting framework, guidance on information capture and implementation, advice, and actionable information on:
|What is an Inventory?||What is an inventory report?|
Types of inventory
Why do I need an inventory?
|Conducting Reports||Inventory reports |
Interim reports / inspections
Check out reports
|The Report Framework – 1 & 2||Building the evidence|
Consistent, concise, comprehensive reporting
|How to Describe||Kitchens|
Rooms / areas
|Core Report Components||Schedule of condition|
|Understanding Evidence||Objective v subjective evidence|
Fair, wear and tear
The adjudicators role
ADR – Types of evidence
|Clerk Safety||Personal security|
|Health & Safety |
|Gas safety certificates|
Furniture and fittings
Blinds and curtains
Smoke detectors & carbon monoxide alarms
|How to Compile an Inventory Report – Video Tutorials||Video – Entrance hallway|
Video – BathroomVideo – Bedroom 1
Video – EnsuiteVideo – Bedroom 2
Video – Lounge
Video – Open plan kitchen
Video – Alarm testing
Completed inventory report example
Completed checkout report example
|Useful Information||Essential checklist|
Useful information and contacts
|Quick Guides||The inventory process|
Interim visits process
|Resources – Hand Outs||Focus on your business|
Customer is king
Housing Industry – List of laws and regulations
Supporting the lettings industry
Both as an agent and as a landlord, investment in the property is not just monetary. Often landlords have an emotional connection as well as the letting agent striving for quality of service that goes beyond bricks and mortar. But each party needs to be focused on providing a safe property for the tenant to call home as well as realising a healthy return on the investment so finding the right tenant is vital and in some respects, is the easy part – although clearly this process too needs to be handled with care and professionalism.
Effective property management is often seen as the jewel in the lettings agent’s crown but can equally be the most difficult, divisive role and a really hard sell, because although rental income is a great source of revenue, the lettings industry is based on unique contractual arrangements which, despite all the controls and procedures in place, can leave the landlord exposed to damage and loss.
In the UK there are somewhere between 4 – 5 million private tenancies and an average of 1.4 million moves in, around, and out of the private rented sector. The property is the key asset but during the let, it is not under the direct control of either the agent or landlord once the tenant moves in so seasoned agents and landlords are acutely aware of how essential it is to keep a firm grip on the property management process through regular property inspections.
Inventory training and report management is key to ensuring that comprehensive, robust and evidenced inventory reports, interim inspections and checkouts include all the vital information required and are captured pre, mid and post tenancy to ensure accurate records are maintained. This will inevitably have a postive impact on minimising costs as (ideally) the third party information is unbiased, clear, factual and often removes the emotions associated with parties locked in a dispute.
Property inventory software
Increasingly, clerks, property managers and landlords are taking advantage of advancements in technology to improve the accuracy of inventory inspections and reports as well as reducing the labour-intensive work involved. The use of Inventory Base property inspection app is now widespread and forms part of the inventory clerks training to ensure that not only the correct information is captured but that it is then supported by equally robust audit trails, share history, date and time stamped pictorial evidence and digital signatures so that every potential obstacle to a dispute is mitigated.
At Inventory Base we specialise in providing these digital solutions to ensure accuracy of the report, standardisation of terminology, comprehensive and robust evidence and the ability to be time and cost-efficient. When utilised by trained individuals with experience and expertise in the role of a clerk, reports are detailed, comprehensive and can provide an accurate and, most importantly, reliable record of the property.
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