Will the Tenant Fees Act Result in Inventories Being Taken Back In-House?

Back in the day, there were no such things as inventory companies, and letting agents had to undertake inventory on their own. This meant employing an inventory clerk, or clerks, and supplying them with a clipboard, paper, biros, and a camera. The inventory clerk may also have had other duties to attend to and, bearing in mind that you had to send rolls of film off to have the photos produced, completing a full inventory could take from several days to a couple of weeks.

Then along came inventory companies who did nothing else but carry out inventory, so letting agents who used their services didn’t need to employ their own inventory clerks. However, the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 may well encourage some agents to take inventory back in-house, and it has been suggested that this may result in inventories not being as accurate as those done by an independent company.

However, writing in The Negotiator magazine, Frances Burkinshaw says that she started her business in the 1970s when there were no inventory companies and she employed her own inventory clerks and trained them thoroughly. She said that times changed, and she invested in technology, doubtless using a free inventory clerk app such as the Reports2Go app, but that she would never be persuaded that an outside company would do a better job.

She does say that if companies take the matter in-house simply in order to save costs without ensuring that their staff are thoroughly trained, then certainly there would be problems. She expects that the inventory costs would now be charged to the landlord, but that this may mean losing business. She emphasises that technology can help with this and that many tech companies provide software to carry out the work in-house, which is a worthwhile investment. Furthermore, staff should be made to attend external training courses so that they can fully understand what is required of them, and also gain qualifications.

Burkinshaw also disagrees that in-house clerks are biased towards the landlord and against the tenant. In her experience her clerks often never met the landlord but did meet the tenant so it might be assumed that they would be biased more towards the tenant, but as far as she is concerned, they remained completely impartial.

A comprehensive inventory will always be an integral part of letting a property, and Burkinshaw says that she is sure inventory companies will continue to thrive.

Dan, 02 January 2020