From June this year (2019), it will become illegal for landlords to charge “add on” fees to tenants to cover the cost of extra services such as the cost of hiring a third-party to manage the inventory for a property.
While it remains to be seen what effect this change will have in the long term (as tenancies are renewed providing an opportunity for rents to be renegotiated), in the short term there will be a need for landlords and lettings agents to decide how to manage the creation of inventories, their options essentially being to (continue to) use a third-party service or to take over the management of the inventories themselves.
Third-party services may still be worth their fees
Although landlords and lettings agents may not be particularly happy about having to absorb the entire cost of a third-party service (at least initially), using these services may still be a good investment since they will ensure that the job is not only done but done to an acceptable standard (meaning one which will stand up in the event of a subsequent dispute).
They may therefore be far and away the safest option in cases where a landlord has made a considerable investment in the interior of a property and wishes to make sure that their investment is protected. On the other hand, when a landlord is only providing basic furniture and household items, it may be more cost-effective for landlords and lettings agents to manage the inventory themselves.
Three industry-leading bodies pool knowledge to help landlords and lettings agents
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) have combined their collective experience and expertise to produce new and comprehensive guidelines for landlords and lettings agents who are now having to navigate inventory-management by themselves.
In addition to providing landlords and lettings agents with the tools they need to manage inventories in a robust (which is to say evidence-based manner), the three bodies have also provided straightforward but thorough information on what landlords and lettings agents need to know about deposit deductions and disputes regarding inventory reports.
Further guidance offered by the government
The TDS, ARLA and AIIC are not the only authority bodies to be issuing guidance to the private rental sector. The government has also recently issued new guidance to both private landlords and their tenants so that both are aware of their rights and responsibilities. In addition to a plain-English overview of the relevant topics, there are links to the relevant articles of legislation.
The government has also been working to train local authority enforcement officers to be able to perform their duties more effectively and ensure the maximum degree of protection for both tenants and landlords.
In addition to arranging classroom-based workshops, the government has created an online learning platform for officers who were unable to attend the live training, which can also act as a refresher for those who did. The government also aims to encourage more communication and co-operation between enforcement officers so that best practices can be shared and hence standards lifted overall.
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