By trekproperty, Mar 22 2019 10:19AM

I was interested to see the AIIC has removed all restrictions on inventory clerks involving themselves in the cleaning of properties, even those which they have cleaned themselves or are going to clean post check out, from the Code of Practice, Not only did they remove the restriction, but they didn’t bother to inform their members of the changes to the Code nor did they invite members to comment on the changes. I still believe that most inventory clerks regard cleaning and inventory work as a potential conflict of interest which is why ARLA and the AIIC had these restrictions in the first place. Nothing has altered in the lettings industry to justify the removal of these restrictions.

So why must they be kept apart? Firstly cleanliness is subjective. Different clerks inspecting the same property at the same time may differ on their interpretation of, and descriptions of, cleaning issues. The descriptions we use (Professional; Good domestic; average domestic,; acceptable standard etc) are all open to differing opions. I recall a tenant wanting the oven to be described as “filthy” on my check in report as I had described it as being “lightly stained throughout”. By her standards it may well have been filthy but I have seen filthy ovens and this wasn’t one. What we both agreed on was that it was not clean.

Secondly, and most importantly, impartiality is supposed to be a cornerstone of our profession. It is important that landlords, agents and tenants are confident that the inventory clerk attending any inspection is a neutral and unbiased party. This is even more so for tenants as the clerk attending their check out is usually appointed by the landlord or letting agent and they don’t have a say in the matter. So how would you as a tenant feel if you knew that the inventory clerk was going to be profiting from any of your cleaning oversights? Would you still regard the clerk as being an unbiased party? No of course not. Although the clerk may well be honest in his or her reporting the element of trust has been lost. In the event of a dispute, the tenant could point out to the adjudicator that the clerk had an interest in exaggerating the cleaning issues for their own personal gain. Solution? Keep the occupations apart.

Thirdly, inventory clerks are human. Although we try to resist, when we see a blunder in a rival’s inventory report, we cannot help smirking and slipping in a comment on the check out about the error even though it may be irrelevant to any potential tenant liability (Heat alarms incorrectly described as smoke alarms for example – guilty). If a clerk is preparing an inventory on a property that has been cleaned by a rival cleaning company the temptation to exaggerate that company’s cleaning oversights will be hard to resist. Solution? Keep the occupation apart!

It seems absurd that the AIIC would launch a petition for compulsory independent inventory reporting because it does not regard agents and landlords as impartial parties, but does not see the potential conflict of interest arising from its members clerks cleaning properties they are inspecting. The revised AIIC Code of practice requires members to declare, in writing, any potential conflict of interest. So any AIIC clerk attending a check out whose company is going to be doing the subsequent cleaning would have to declare this, in writing, to the out-going tenant. Is that going to happen? No it isn’t. Solution? Keep cleaning and inventory work apart.

By trekproperty, Jul 23 2014 12:36PM

Please can you ask the landlord to clean the extractor?
Please can you ask the landlord to clean the extractor?

Most tenancy contracts will make provision for a mid-term inspection (periodic) of the property, to be undertaken by either the landlord personally or the landlord's nominated agent. The inspection is important to check that the tenant is maintaining a good standard of cleanliness and that the property is being kept in good condition.

Trek do a fair number of periodic inspections every month and this is more or less the procedure we follow. First, catch your tenant. Ignoring repeated phone calls and SMS messages is fairly standard practice and sometimes the landlord or agent may have to help with setting the appointment day. A tenant must have at least 24hrs notice of the inspection but we try to make appointments a week in advance. Any longer notice will usually result in the tenant forgetting and a new date having to be set!

Secondly it is important to consider the privacy of the tenant. Some clients ask that photos be taken of each room but Trek will only do this with the consent of the tenant, though few tenants object. Obviously damage or maintanence issues will be photographed as a matter of course. But we will not look inside wardrobes and drawers. We will try to exclude family photos from our room shots. And obviously make sure that the tenant or any children do not feature in any image. However I do have a bedroom shot I took without thinking featuring a nude painting of the tenant she had done for her husband's birthday! So all these privacy issues need to be considered. Some tenants request that shoes be removed. Again we are happy to oblige even if that reveals a hole in our sock!!

So what are we looking for? Generally you get an impression of the property the moment you walk in. Most tenants will make an effort to clean and tidy up before we arrive. We do not expect it to be spotless as the property is being lived in. We check that smoke alarms are still present and ask the tenant when they last checked them. We check door and window corners for any build up of mould. We check the sanitary ware for cleanliness. We ask the tenant whether there are any outstanding maintenance issues. We check for signs of over-occupation, pets and smoking. Is the decor unchanged? Is there laundry drying on radiators? Bicycles in bedrooms? Is there any obvious damage? In blocks of flats we ask whether there are any issues with the communal areas or neighbours. Finally we inspect the garden and exterior of the property and note anything that may be of interest to the landlord.

While the tenant is only expected at the end of the tenancy to return the property in the same order as at the start, a periodic inspection will give the client a good idea whether the tenant is keeping to their contractual obligations. Or perhaps the tenant just needs advice on damp management, allowing the agent or landlord opportunity to intervene before a major problem develops.

A periodic inspection is an important part of tenancy management and should not be ignored.

By trekproperty, Apr 21 2014 08:17AM

I am often amazed how many inventory clerks don't bother listing the small items in their reports, such as the humble doorstop.

A doorstop costs less than £2 so I can understand why some don't consider it an important part of a property. However a doorstop has an important function, namely to stop a door handle impacting a wall and leaving an unsightly hole in the plaster.

A landlord would be upset by damage to the plaster and may expect some compensation for remedial work. This is where the inventory needs to be clear. Was there a doorstop fitted where there is a danger of the handle impacting a wall? If not then the landlord has only himself to blame. Has the tenant broken the doorstop resulting in the damage to the plaster? Then the tenant is to blame! Or worse case, the Inventory is silent on this matter and the landlord will be left red-faced in front of the adjudicator.

If a doorstop is fitted, is it fitted in the right place? I have seen some floor-mounted doorstops fitted so close to the wall that the doorhandle still touches. And I have seen new doors refitted with large gaps underneath that just ride over the doorstop!

Does your inventory report note doorstops? Does is note how it functions? It would be negligent not to do so!

By trekproperty, Mar 31 2014 10:50AM

The photo above of a rubber glove over a heat sensor was found in an apartment block typically let to students or young professionals. Every time the tenant prepared food the alarm would go off. A rubber glove and cellotape was her solution.

Of course no alarm should be treated this way, less so in an apartment block.