As amendments to smoke and carbon monoxide alarm legislation loom for rented properties later this year, we look at how inventory reporting is critical for demonstrating healthy human habitation in tenancies.
Landlords are responsible for ensuring fitness for human habitation in their rented properties, and as such, need to ensure all measures have been taken to follow current guidance. From damp, mould and adequate light to ventilation, water supply and sanitary conditions, an agent or landlord must be able to demonstrate suitable living conditions.
Now, with new legal requirements in the social and private rented sector for mandatory smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, it has never been more important to evidence safety compliance.
Keep maintenance records in inventories
If a property is deemed unfit for purpose, the inventory report can make or break the situation for the landlord and/or agent.
If it can be shown that the landlord/agent has followed safety protocol in accordance with Fitness for Human Habitation requirements, and that the risk has occurred due to tenant failure or extenuating circumstances, they will be able to prove they aren’t liable. If, however, there isn’t evidence to support the landlord’s remedial action, the tenant could take court action for breach of contract and could be entitled to compensation if living conditions are unsuitable.
It is therefore essential to show when installations, replacements, tests, maintenance and repairs have been carried out to all risk areas of a rented property. Without an objective inventory and photo evidence, it’s very difficult to audit-trail compliance of these legal requirements.
This alone makes inventory reporting a vital component of property management – not just at check-in and check-out but also throughout the tenancy to show remedial actions and changes.
Inventory details during tenancy, as well as the start and end
To ensure these habitation details aren’t missed throughout the tenancy, landlords and agents should, ideally, introduce a standardised process for capturing this information. It’s so easy to forget about inventories in-between check-in and check-out inspections, but often the issues that occur during a rental can be the ones that cause the biggest issues.
There are many ways to bring this process into the day-to-day without it impacting on admin time. From templates and forms to spreadsheets and apps, there’s no excuse for not logging maintenance and remedial information.
Using a part-automated digital solution makes the process easier and faster too. Inventory Hive’s app, for example, includes reminders, regional legislation prompts, report templates, photo features and central cloud-based storage. This brings that added benefit of shared access, which can be useful when dealing with tenants.
It is the tenant’s responsibility, for example, to regularly test their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms during tenancy. Bring this into your processes and tenant communications by automating a monthly prompt email to remind them. This will help to minimise risk and improve safety in your rented properties – and will help you action any repairs within required time periods.
Learn more about how inventory apps can help you to stay compliant with safe habitation here: Inventory Hive.
*Richard Abbots is the founder and chief executive officer of Inventory Hive