Long Term Tenancies 1st Sep 2017

New research (Your Move) has revealed that in the UK, tenants now stay in rental properties for an average of almost 2 years, up 18% from 2014. Scottish tenants are staying for an average of 18 months, with east coast tenants reaching an average of 20 months, compared to 16 months in the Highlands and Islands.

A recent tenant survey (LSL Property Services) found that over a third of tenants would like a tenancy agreement of a minimum of 3 years, to give them the security of a home. Landlords can also benefit from the security longer term tenancies bring, as long as they have good, well paying tenants.

Further research shows that 25% of all UK households are predicted to be occupied by private renters by 2025. This has come at a time when the rental industry is booming – it has doubled in size in the last ten years and the number of households in Scotland is projected to increase by 61,000 by 2021.

Of course all of this has implications for the standard of accommodation expected by tenants, along with demands on the service provided by the landlord or letting agent. Furthermore, if tenancy lengths are increasing then so will property damage or wear and tear.   It is therefore essential that landlords do what they can to protect what is likely to be their biggest asset.

An inventory, which costs landlords a relatively small amount of money, ensures that any damage done during the tenancy can be clearly identified, and as such offers a level of protection to both parties. In practice, inventories are essential in order to provide evidence regarding the condition of the property and its contents at the start of a tenancy. Without an inventory, it is very unlikely a landlord would be awarded money from the deposit scheme to cover damage, cleaning costs etc. An inventory is a ‘detailed list of all things in a place`. It is a piece of documentation itemising property fixtures, fittings and furnishings, and making comment about their condition. This refers to external items as well as internal.

As tenants are not generally willing to pay money to cover cleaning costs, putting right damage, redecoration etc at the end of their tenancy, costs are often recouped from the deposit. In some cases there is a straightforward process, whereby the landlord and/or letting agent identify the problem and agree an amount to be retained from the deposit with the tenant. However often there is disagreement between the landlord/agent and the tenant, and in these cases tenancy deposit schemes aim to resolve deposit disputes as efficiently as possible by going through an adjudication process, rather than having to go to court. If tenants know there is an inventory in place then they are less likely to dispute the deposit and more likely to agree to suggested deductions. Furthermore, more disputes are won if an inventory is in place.

The Key Place lodges all deposits with SafeDeposits Scotland, which is the only not for profit scheme based in Scotland. The Key Place is very experienced at dealing with deposits and deposit disputes. We therefore know what standard of inventories SafeDeposits Scotland require, and what will and will not hold up in a dispute. The Key Place uses bespoke inventory software to provide detailed and accurate inventories embedded with photographs.

It is essential that landlords are able to fully evidence the state, condition and cleanliness of their property at the start and end of every tenancy. Landlords are putting themselves at risk of expensive repair bills if they do not have a water tight inventory, as it may not be possible to retain money from the deposit to cover any damage, cleaning etc. We would urge all landlords to agree to an inventory being carried out at their property at the start of every tenancy. It is essential that you safeguard your investment, and we are keen to do everything we can to help you.