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By Richard Abbots

Chief Executive Officer, Inventory Hive


10 reasons to ditch paper-based tenancy documents

Despite most businesses across industry now adopting some form of digital alternative to traditional work methods, many in the private rental sector are still relying on paper-based documents and reporting. We look at the benefits of switching from ‘pen and paper’ to apps and technology and the risks of sticking with old practices.

According to research firm, Gartner, 91% of organisations are engaged in digital initiatives within their business. The benefits for them echo the advantages that can be gained in the PRS, where paper-based reporting and documentation still resides.

1.Efficiency and Productivity


Landlords and letting agents are being financially squeezed from many angles which has brought cost-saving initiatives into focus for most in the industry. Manually completing forms, inspection documents and check-in/out reports, for example, take up valuable time when staff could be focused on more profitable activities. 

As an example, Gartner found that those working with paper spend 50% of their time looking for information! A further study found that every £5 ream of paper costs an average business £140 of labour in terms of managing the process associated with it.

Digital tools streamline processes and, with the use of templates, pre-populated content and auto completion, hours can be saved throughout the tenancy management process.

2.Storage space and access

Many agents and landlords now work remotely or in a hybrid set-up since the pandemic, which has allowed them to downsize their commercial offices. As a result, property professionals have had to become smarter about how they optimise space within their workspaces, both in the office and at home. 

Paper reports and files take up valuable room and require significant storage that could instead be used for workstations, rest areas and reception. The beauty of digital documents is that they require no physical space and can be accessed by remote workers too.

3.Equipment costs

Just as paper-based documents require storage, they also rely on printing and photocopying which all cost money and use space. Digital documents enable an agency or landlord to cut down their equipment, stationery and printing costs, and reduce the admin involved in managing that process. 

When you consider how often tenancy documents are edited or amended, and the re-printing/photocopying that happens as a result, the resource costs mount up much higher than licences for digital tools.

4.Document Sharing

Document sharing is perhaps one of the greatest advantages of digital documentation. It’s fast and far more reliable than sending paperwork through the post! It allows for instant editing (which eliminates duplication and unnecessary admin) and makes the tenancy process far more transparent. 

No more chasing a tenant to see if they’ve received their documents and signed them. Apps like Inventory Hive show receipt of documents and enable digital docu-signing, which can save hours in follow-up emails and phone calls.

5.Security & Safety

The tenancy process requires the collection and sharing of highly personal information between parties and many fear the security of cloud-based apps and storage. However, with today’s sophisticated firewalls, the safety of digital documents is far greater than the physical storage and sharing of paper-based documentation. 

Paper-based documents can go missing and be difficult to locate if they have been filed incorrectly (or not filed at all!). Unless duplicates are kept for each document (which take up precious physical space), there is also risk of loss through theft, fire or damage. Digital documents, on the other hand, can be saved, protected and accessed by approved recipients for peace of mind.


There is a sense of professionalism that comes with digital documents and processes in tenancy. Compare that to a crumpled, coffee-stained, paper-based inspection report or tenancy agreement and you get the picture.

Presentation goes a long way in boosting your agency’s brand too. It shows your commitment to best practice and demonstrates a more current approach to dealings. This can be useful when presenting documents in deposit dispute cases too.

One of the most important reasons for going digital in tenancies is for evidence. If your tenancy hits problems during a contract or at end of tenancy, and a claim is raised against the deposit, you will need to present evidence to the adjudicators. Whilst paper-based processes can work here, they aren’t always easy to access or comprehensive enough to work in your favour.

Digital tools and inventory apps ensure that all vital information is collated at property visits and check-ins. With cameras built-in and automatic prompts and templates included, you’ll have dated, annotated photographs automatically linked to specific areas of the property showing condition, cleanliness and contents at specific times. 

Storing that information in an app that tenants can view is often enough to prevent disputes happening in the first place, too.


Just as digital apps can provide evidence for disputes, they can also demonstrate legal compliance when required. With so many regulations in the PRS, it can be difficult to keep up with the many legal requirements expected of landlords. Apps not only remind agents of protocol, they also highlight key points, simplify the process and store documents, receipts, checks and maintenance records safely and digitally for future demonstration.

9.Customer satisfaction

Property marketing has been digital for some time. Customers are used to viewing properties online and even conducting visits virtually. It makes sense for tenancy documentation and inspections to follow suit. People are used to dealing digitally in all manner of ways thanks to the convenience and cost-savings it delivers. 

For landlords and letting agents looking to attract young professionals, digital technology is their preferred way of interacting and engaging with others. Apps also improve customer satisfaction and increase transparency, which in turn leads to trust and better tenant relationships.

10.Carbon footprint

And finally, but possibly most importantly, it is far better for the environment to go paperless. Producing paper depletes forests and contributes to waste, carbon emissions, environmental toxicity and water pollution.  All businesses should be playing their part in protecting the planet for future generations, and most customers are now considering this when choosing who  to deal with.

It can be difficult to change old ways and move your agency culture into a digital one. Many are nervous of change and worry that technology can be complicated to use, when in fact the opposite is true. Today, digital solutions are intuitive, automated and smart. They are designed to be user-friendly and easy to integrate into daily activities. They make life easier, protect your business and save money.

It's time to ditch the paper.

Learn more at Inventory Hive


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