One thing we have learned from working with clients all over the country is that letting agents operate in many different ways. There isn’t just a variation between different companies, it can clearly be seen between different branches of the same chain.
Here, in the leafy suburbs of South Manchester, for example, the general modus operandi is very different from agents just ten miles away in the city centre. Although our local area is very affluent, it is also highly competitive. Our local agents aren’t generally able to charge an additional fee to the landlord for an inventory, whereas in the city centre we see a different trend. The majority of city centre agents charge landlords in excess of £100 in addition to the standard letting fees, although this charge is usually waived if the property is being fully managed.
Running an inventory company we (naturally) believe that a letting agency has a duty of care to its landlords to have a proper, professional inventory carried out. One that will actually stand up in court, and not simply provide a basic check list that frankly isn’t worth the paper its written on. However, we do appreciate that sometimes it isn’t commercially viable to charge the landlord an extra fee.
Clearly the whole point of an inventory is to provide an impartial record of the state of the property and its contents. Although in 80% of cases we are instructed by the landlord or agent our service is of equal value to tenants, many of whom see the benefit in obtaining a fair and accurate inventory. After all they do not want to see their deposit tied up for months at a time whilst a dispute is settled and many tenants have been subject to, what they regard as, deposits being unfairly retained. Most tenants are amenable to the idea of paying for a good quality inventory.
Therefore, it seems fair to us that the costs of an inventory and checkout should be borne jointly by the landlord and tenant. We have suggested this to our clients and some of them have now adopted this, with some success. Sometimes the fees for each service are split 50/50 and in some cases the tenant pays for the inventory and the landlord for the check out.
Either way, in our experience, both parties normally recognise it is equitable for the costs to be shared. If cost is currently a barrier to you protecting your rental property with a proper inventory, perhaps this solution would work for you.