CALL FOR TIGHTER TRAINING TO IMPROVE STANDARDS OF INVENTORY MANAGEMENT SECTOR

 

No Letting Go joins forces with industry bodies to urge tighter training for inventory clerks

 

Under the revised terms of the Housing Act 2004, all deposits taken by landlords for Assured Shorthold Tenancies must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. This means that from the outset of any rental agreement, tenants and landlords are both strongly advised to have in place, a clear, fair and detailed inventory of the contents and condition of the property being rented. Given the change in legislation, inventory documentation is increasingly being scrutinised and deemed as providing critical evidence, in the settlement of deposit disputes.

 

As APIP (Association Professional Inventory Providers) states “if an inventory is inadequate, out of date, non-existent or if it cannot be proven to have been given to the tenant then the adjudicators are likely to award the deposit to the tenant unless the tenant admits to damage or losses. After a period of time operating the schemes, this message is being reflected in the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) outcomes, with many inventories being found to be either inadequate at the outset, or failing to make the correct substantiated observations at the check –out”.

 

But despite the weighty implications of an inferior inventory report to both landlord and tenant, No Letting Go, the UK’s first national brand in the inventory management sector, claims the industry is shirking the responsibility to introduce more stringent regulations and that there is a need for tighter controls on the training of inventory clerks operating in the field.

 

Many letting agents operate an in-house inventory management service but it is estimated that as many as 70% of in-house clerks have not undertaken any professional training. With APIP currently suggesting that there are around 6,000 letting agents in place in the UK but records showing that only about 100 have undergone any formal APIP training, there is clearly a shortfall in the number of inventory clerks currently who have undergone the specialist training designed to ensure the delivery of a professional inventory capable of standing up to the court’s scrutiny. And it is not just the in-house departments that are guilty of failing to invest in the appropriate training –there are plenty of independent inventory management businesses operating in the sector that regularly undertake inventories and check-ins on behalf of landlords or letting agents –who have never undergone any professional training. Whilst the most common defence for failing to offer training is usually the cost (in financial terms as well as time), No Letting Go training director, Lisa Williamson believes this is a short sighted approach to business. “The reality is that if a client loses a deposit dispute as a result of an inferior, poor quality inventory, they can sue the inventory management business for negligence –and the costs associated with this type of legal battle will be significantly higher than the cost of a professional training course or in fact taking a franchise with one of the key inventory companies such as No Letting Go!”.

 

Since the new legislation came into force, the number of deposit disputes going to Alternative Dispute Resolution has risen and with the ARLA dispute service currently handling around 1,000 tenancy deposit disputes a month, the demand for detailed, consistent and well documented inventories remains high –but unlike other professional sectors, it appears that little is being done to monitor the standards of the inventory management industry. “Even if an inventory clerk does attend a dedicated training course, once they are out in the field there is no requirement to attend a ‘refresher course’to update skills / knowledge as part of their continuous professional development”continues Lisa Williamson. “Given that a significant proportion of disputes which are settled in the landlord’s favour are those where a well written inventory is in place, surely it should be mandatory for inventory management businesses to be able to demonstrate an adherence to the strictest code of practice as recognised by AIIC or APIP?”adds Lisa Williamson.

 

The letting industry has a responsibility to protect the property investments of its clients. This fundamental duty should surely incorporate a requirement from anyone providingan inventory management service to be able to demonstrate suitability and possession of the correct skills and training to undertake a professional inventory? 

 

Lisa Williamsons concludes “Landlords looking to appoint a letting agent / inventory management business should ask to see training credentials as part of the natural recruitment criteria employed during the appointment process. We would also urge all landlords to request proof of indemnity / public liability insurance prior to commissioning any inventory management services. Most importantly, the lettings industry needs to raise its game in terms of being seen to not only encourage professional training for anyone involved in the inventory management sector, but also to actively discourage clients from seeking out the services of companies which have failed to invest in any formal, professional training. After all, appointing an insufficiently qualified inventory management business could prove a very expensive mistake in the long run.”

Lisa Williamson, No Letting Go Training Director

www.nolettinggo.co.uk

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