Date Published 26 July 2011
Size DOES matter when it comes to pictures in inventories, says an expert.
Photographs no bigger than thumbnails are causing problems when it comes to disputes over damage at the end of tenancies.
According to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, inadequate photographs are regularly being used in inventories at both check-in and check-out.
The practice is leaving landlords exposed to potentially costly disputes over wear and tear, with tenants winning their cases at arbitration because the use of tiny pictures makes it extremely difficult to see the detail of alleged damage.
Nor is it just small photographs of low resolution that are causing problems.
In one recent dispute, a landlord supplied his tenant with a photographic style inventory at check-in. However, none of the photographs were dated and no other written evidence was produced, so the tenant won his case and the landlord had to fund some expensive replacements.
Advice from independent arbitrators recommends that inventory reports should contain a full description of a property and its contents, with detail on every bit of damage and its exact location, at the start of a tenancy. This can be supported with photographs – but they need to be of a high quality when printed up to A4 or A3 size, so that any damage can be seen clearly.
Photographs alone are no substitute for an accurate and properly detailed inventory. A landlord has no evidence to prove that the property has been damaged in any way during the tenancy if they have to rely on poor-quality, thumbnail photographs, and therefore may find it almost impossible to withhold any deposit money from the tenants.
Arbitrators also recommend that evidence submitted to them to resolve disputes over damage should include both ‘before' and ‘after' pictures, with a clear narrative as to what the photo is showing, eg colours, item description, marks on surface.
Even if the photographs are just to be incorporated in the inventory for reference, they need to be a decent size.
Photographs should be dated, as in a camera set to automatically put the date on the picture.
If photographs are going to be printed out, the printer needs to be good quality. Too often cheap printers distort the colour. Even good printers give false colours when cartridges start to run out.
Here at Lesters, our recommended Inventory supplier produces first-rate inventories, in line with the recommendations to ensure that our Landlord's are properly protected.