Thursday, 23 February 2012 12:36 PM
Guest blog from Jax Kneppers, creator of the digital inventory platform, Imfuna Let.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) recently produced a damning statement citing that ‘many inventories are completely inadequate’ and ‘not worth the paper they are written on’, resulting in many landlords losing deposit cases.
At present, landlords and agents are failing to present thorough and fully detailed inventories; a basic requirement which should be handed to tenants at the beginning and end of a tenancy.
The comments by the AIIC, a not for profit membership organisation, raise important questions about the credibility of the traditional paper-based inventory and reinforces the need for landlords to adopt new inventory approaches in order to better protect themselves in times of dispute.
The need for reliable information, uniform data collection and transparency could spell the end for the unreliable paper-based approach and with a digitalised version ensuring a comprehensive inventory is completed every time.
As a forensic engineer over the last 30 years I have inspected hundreds of thousands of properties and testified in 40 plus trials. From this experience I have learnt important lessons about how to conduct a comprehensive and complete inventory that will support the burden of proof.
The burden of proof that an adjudicator would find most compelling is from a party who brings expert knowledge, a solid approach and detailed supporting information. This objective resource approach will win out over layman general impressions. To get there consider the following recommendations:
When preparing a move-in or move-out report, consider your collection process and the need for reliable information. Any adjudicator will ultimately use this as a basis for judging whether the data is objective, repeatable, and consistent with industry practice.
Collecting data, especially when multiple people are doing so on the same space at different times, should be compiled in a uniform manner. Work your way through the property, identifying each component and the condition in a systematic and repeatable fashion to create a comprehensive property history.
Using established definitions and standard terms used for describing components will help when trying to relay the state of a property to all parties involved. This becomes especially important when dealing with the topic of wear and tear and the useful life.
Also, when conducting an inspection, establish a consistent data collection method. By following a consistent approach and reporting format, multiple people can inspect the property over time and more reliably detect change in the property’s condition.
To meet a burden of proof, an adjudicator will typically look to corroborative data. When performing an inspection, utilize a mix of general photographs and summary notes with more detailed photos and notes of specific problems. Using a technology-based inventory solution will automatically location/date/time-stamp your information for highly corroborative data.
Finally, and perhaps most poignantly, the more transparent the exchange of data throughout the process, the more likely the the ruling will be in your favour.
Inventorying the property using a uniform, repeatable, and transparent process via new technology will help resign the paper-based approach to the recycling bin.