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New inventory guidance for landlords and agents ahead of tenant fees ban

Monday 08 April 2019

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) has released new guidance on inventory reports to help landlords and letting agents in the private rented sector in England ahead of the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act on 1 June 2019.

The Act bans fees which means that tenants cannot be charged for extra services, including independent inventories, so the TDS, ARLA Propertymark and the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) have moved to reassure agents and landlords.

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 says that the 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 ARLA Propertymark and the AIIC and provides 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.

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.

David Cox, ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive said: “The 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.”

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 ARLA and the 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 the AIIC said: “We are currently working alongside Government policymakers as well to ensure reports are safe and secure for everyone.

“We’re glad to be involved in the creation of this new guidance, which is for both independent clerks and landlords and letting agents choosing to carry out reports by themselves.”

Propertymark resources

To help ARLA Propertymark members comply with this complex piece of legislation, our Tenant Fees Toolkit includes bite-size videos, fact sheets and much more which will support them through every step of the transition.