Two questions we are regularly asked by our new landlords: 
 
Do I really need an inventory? and Can I do it myself?  
 
Here is my answer to both questions: 
 
Firstly, the need for an inventory in the first place. There is nothing legally that says you have to have an inventory, but any claim at the end of the tenancy to rectify any issues at the property will quite simply fail if there is no evidence to support the claim. Very few landlords will take on tenants who they think will damage their property, or remove items or generally not look after the property whilst they are living there. But these situations do arise, in truth often to a relatively minor degree, but occasionally they can be quite substantial.  
Take for example a tenant who vacates a property and cannot be bothered to remove their old washing machine, has left some rubbish, the garden hasn't been tidied and the house not cleaned, including the kitchen appliances and sanitary-ware. In short the tenant has simply removed their personal possessions and left the property requiring attention before new tenants can move in. Most tenancy agreements will quite properly address these issues, but for a claim against the tenants deposit to be successful so the landlord can recover the justifiable costs to rectify these issues, there must be evidence of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy and at the end of the tenancy.  
 
So the first reason for compiling an inventory is to ensure there is evidence if required for any claim. 
 
But the second reason is just as valid in my opinion. A comprehensive inventory 'sets the tone' for new tenants. They sign off a copy of the Check In Inventory to agree the condition of the property. They know there is indisputable evidence right from the outset of their tenancy. Rather than this being something that is regarded as negative towards your tenants we have actually found quite the reverse with our tenants welcoming and commenting positively on a comprehensive inventory being provided to them.  
 
A comprehensive check out inspection is just as important, preferably, where possible, by the same clerk that prepared the check in report to ensure continuity of evidence. 
 
The second question - Can I do it myself? 
 
The answer is yes you can, but here are the reasons not to! 
 
Firstly, evidence from a landlord is not regarded as strong as the evidence from an inventory clerk, particularly a clerk who is qualified to prepare inventories. 
 
Qualified inventory clerks have the experience to know what the issues are that generally arise at the end of the tenancy and how best to ensure the evidence is captured. 
 
Qualified inventory clerks will generally be using industry software that produces a pdf report with plenty of detail and accompanying photographs. We have previously been provided with a property inventory which consisted of a couple of pieces of A4 paper with very little detail and without any photographs. This was of no use at all when we were asked to conduct a check-out inspection at the property by the landlord and resulted in no claim where in all probability a claim could have been justified had a comprehensive inventory been prepared at the outset. 
 
Qualified inventory clerks can also advise on the deposit claims process. It is not as straight-forward as many landlords think. 
 
So our advice is to use a qualified inventory clerk and ensure you have a comprehensive inventory at the start and the end of the tenancy. By doing so you are protecting your investment in the best way that you can. 
 
 
 
A brief overview of some of the manifesto pledges that may have an impact on the private rental sector. It is not meant to be a comprehensive analysis of the pledges, just the key points that have been pledged. Comments in italics are my own: 
 
Conservatives: 
One million new homes to be built in 5 years, aiming for 300000 new houses per year by the mid 2020's. 
New mortgage scheme with long term fixed rates and 5% deposit to help renters buy their first home. 
£6.3 billion grants for environmental upgrades to homes. 
Section 21 'no fault' evictions to be abolished. This has cross party support but should included a better and more efficient route to regain possession of a property using exisiting and updated Section 8 powers. 
Single 'lifetime' deposit which moves with the tenant. No detail provided on this at all - industry commentators unclear how this could work. 
 
Labour: 
£75 billion for 100000 new council homes a year by 2024 and 50000 affordable homes through Housing Associations. 
Upgrade almost all of the UK's 27 million homes to the highest energy efficiency standards by 2030 
Abolish Right to Buy and give councils money and pwer to buy back former council homes. 
Cap Rent increases to national inflation rate.  
Section 21 'no fault' evictions to be abolished. This has cross party support but should included a better and more efficient route to regain possession of a property using exisiting and updated Section 8 powers. 
 
Liberal Democrats: 
Build 300000 new homes a year by 2020 including 100000 for social rent. 
Help young people get into the rental market with government backed tenancy deposit loans for all first time renters under 30. 
£15 billion over the enxt parliament to retrofit insulation in 26 million homes. 
 
Green Party: 
100000 new zero carbon homes for social rent each year. 
Scrap help to Buy and Right to Buy schemes 
Nationwide insulation programme covering every UK home that needs it by 2030 with 10 million homes to reach the top energy rating within 10 years. 
 
Brexit Party: 
Make it easier for councils to borrow from central government to build council houses. 
 
UKIP: 
5 year residency qualifcation for any non-uk buyers of residential property. 
Social housing for UK Citizens only. 
 
As has been widely anticipated the requirement for landlords to have 5 year electrical safety checks at their properties is likely to come into force next year. On October 25th 2019 the Government will lay further regulation under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 which paves the way for the Secretary of State to make the regulations about how electrical checks will occur. Whilst that does not mean that certification will be required immediately it is almost certain this will become a requirement in 2020 and probably sooner rather than later. There is still some uncertainty on whether this will simply apply to new tenancies in the short term and whether there will be a transitional period for existing tenancies. We hope the Regulations once published will provide more clarity! 
The Government has proposed the abolition of the Section 21 Notice which provides landlords with an accelerated process to regain possession of a property. 
This has already gained cross party support and so there is likely to be a debate at some stage in the future which will result in changes to the Housing Act legislation.  
So briefly what is about? 
Landlords can regain possession of the property using the Section 21 notice without providing reasons to the tenant. 
Alternatively a Section 8 Notice can be served if any of the Grounds in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act are met. There are mandatory grounds where a Court must allow repossession of the property and there are discretionary grounds where a Court may allow the property to be repossessed. 
There is a consensus among the political parties to update the housing legislation to provide a stable living environment for tenants whilst at the same time providing adequate protection for landlords to enable them to regain possession of the property. There is a belief among some that Landlords use the Section 21 legislation to evict tenants who are perceived to be troublesome. Whilst that can be true, more often than not it is because the process around regaining possession of a property using Section 8 can be more problematical and in particular where there are rent arrears, this can fail very easily. What is significant is that the vast majority of tenancies are ended by tenants rather than landlords. 
The removal of Section 21 may not be the big crisis for landlords that is being suggested, provided that the Section 8 process is improved. 
Landlords must have adequate redress which is timely particularly when dealing with rent arrears, regaining possession for themselves or a family member to live in the property, or to regain possession when the tenants behaviour has been violent or is construed to be anti-social. 
the legislation may actually be fairly straight-forward to improve, the court process and timeliness of that may prove problematical. 
 
The Government survey is on the attached link and is available for a short period of time to complete and add your views. 
 
 
 
 
We are without doubt going through the most significant period of change for the UK in decades. Regardless of your views on Brexit (and lets be frank the vote wasn't that far off a 50/50 split so there is bound to be division on the issue), leaving the EU will mean changes in many different ways. The Private Rental Sector was already being closely examined by Government and changes have already been implemented in 2019. 
Undoubtedly if there is to be an election, and it would seem likely that one way or another an election will be called in the not too distant future, the political parties will be positioning themselves with a range of ideas that could directly or indirectly affect the Private Rental Sector.  
So, I am going to attempt to pull together some of the key things that perhaps have already been proposed as well as highlighting anything new that may affect the PRS. My comments on any proposals I hope will be neutral to encourage comment and debate, but I also hope this will help provide some clarity as undoubtedly there will be lots of information being bandied about before and during an election campaign. Is this intended to influence how you may vote? No, most certainly not, it is merely a commentary on the issues being proposed.  
I will however make one personal comment: I believe the partnership between a Landlord and Tenant can be extremely positive, indeed I see this all the time. The greatest failing in the Private Rental Sector in my opinion is that when things go wrong the remedy for either the Landlord or the Tenant is rarely straight-forward and if a remedy is available it is either lengthy or very expensive or both. Having somewhere safe to live is a basic right and as the need for housing increases the basis on which any new legislation or regulation is made should be that it is fair to all parties and easy to achieve a meaningful remedy if things go wrong. The starting point should be that it is accepted that the vast majority of Landlords and Tenants are decent human beings who have a respect for one another, because that actually is the truth. In the minority of cases there are Landlords who flout the law and Tenants who do the same and they of course should be dealt with. New Legislation should have purpose and not be a knee jerk reaction to a perceived problem, nor should it be proposed as vote winner in a manifesto. The long term issues of providing suitable housing for a growing population are undoubtedly complicated and the need for the Private Rental Sector will continue to grow so the challenge of getting the legislation 'fit for purpose' is a serious one for the future. I hope those that are elected are up to the challenge and dare I say it perhaps they could all work together for once to achieve and work for the common good that provides a sustainable future for all parties involved in the Private Rental Sector. 
More in due course! 
 
 
 
 
 
April 1st 2019 - it may be April Fool's day but this is no joke. Up until today Letting Agents have been able to operate without providing any kind of financial protection for their Landlords and Tenants. When you think how much client money can be passing through a Letting Agent's account on a monthly basis it really is quite scandalous that this has been allowed to continue for so long. Whilst the vast majority of Letting Agents have acted responsibly and have had Client Money Protection in place for some time as indeed we have , there has always been opportunities for individual company owners or employees to abuse their position of trust and pilfer client money. So with effect from 1st April every Letting Agent is required to be a member of a Government approved Client Money Protection Scheme which will give financial protection to Landlords and Tenants alike. 
 
Crowe Property belongs to a professional body called the United Kingdom Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) which is aligned to the National Landlords Association. As members of UKALA we are also members of their approved Total Loss Client Money Protection scheme. 
 
We are also members of the SafeAgent Scheme providing reassurance to Landlords and Tenants that their money is in safe hands. 
 
If you would like any further information on the Total Loss Client Money Protection Scheme please contact us. 
 
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