Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), the UK’s leading tenancy deposit protection service, has released new guidance on inventory reports to support landlords and letting agents ahead of the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act in June.
Also known as the Tenant Fee Ban, the new law – which will apply to letting agents in England – means tenants cannot be charged for a number of extra services, including the provision of inventories. Landlords might then have to cover this cost themselves, rather than the charging or splitting costs with tenants. Without this option, some letting agents may choose to take the service in-house to minimise costs.
TDS’ inventory guidance can provide information in order to ensure best practice amongst landlords and agents who may have previously relied on outside bodies completing reports for them on the basis that the tenant would be covering some of the fee.
The guide was created by TDS in collaboration with Propertymark and the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) and will also provide clarity regarding deposit deductions and disputes over unclear or poor-quality inventory reports.
Designed to reduce disputes being raised, the guidance gives landlords and letting agents the tools required to carry out a thorough inventory report.
TDS previously issued guidance on inventories in a document entitled ‘A Guide to check in/out reports inventories and schedules of condition’, which answered a number of frequently asked questions and highlighted the importance of inventories. The new guidance is the first in the sector to pool knowledge from three industry-leading bodies, and contains the latest best practice and updates concerning the Tenant Fees Act.
Commenting on the new guidance, one of its authors, Michael Morgan, Director of Dispute Resolution at TDS, said: “We are committed to continuing to educate the private rented sector and help our members navigate the ever-changing legal landscape. Our latest guidance on inventory reports marries that commitment with the considerable expertise of both Propertymark and AIIC.
“TDS understands the concern of members on the issue of inventories as a result of the incoming tenant fees ban. However, we take the view that we serve the interests of all parties to a tenancy best by considering check-in and check-out reports based on their content rather than who compiled them.”
Danny Zane, Chair at AIIC, said “‘AIIC understands the importance of thorough, unbiased inventory reports, which are in place to protect all relevant parties, including tenants. We are currently working alongside Government policymakers as well to ensure reports are safe and secure for everyone. Many agents will show as highly professional as they will not bend from using unbiased 3rd party reporting.”
David Cox, Chief Executive at Propertymark, added “The Tenant Fees ban will have a profound impact on the whole industry, but the sector must not underestimate the importance of a thorough inventory. They provide certainty for all involved, add clarity at the end of a tenancy, and help resolve disputes. In the new world after the tenant fees ban comes in agents will need to take an evidence-based approach to default fees, damages and disputes. Only by ensuring that an inventory took place can agents protect their clients’ investments and reduce costs in the long-run.”
The new guidance is now available to read online here.