In this edition of our 'Five Common... Mistakes' blog series, we're taking a closer look at the mistakes landlords, letting agents and tenants often make when submitting photos as evidence:

1. Relying on photos entirely

While photos can support a claim, they can't replace a written check-in and check-out report. A side-by-side comparison of written reports should clearly show if the property's condition or cleanliness has changed during the tenancy, but it's unlikely photos from the start and end of the tenancy will work out this neatly. If there wasn't a problem with a specific item at the start of the tenancy then you probably won't have taken a photo of it — which means you won't have a comparison photo if it's damaged later.

We strongly advise that landlords and agents complete a detailed check-in and check-out report and consider photos as secondary evidence. While many tenants will take photos of a property when they move in and move out, we recommend that they also update their check-in and check-in report — if a check-in report doesn't include damage or dirt which was there when you moved in, it may be difficult to prove you're not responsible for it when you move out.

2. Providing close up photos which aren't clear

There are a few reasons why a close up photo may not be as clear to the adjudicator as necessary:

• The photo may be poor quality, blurry or taken in bad lighting;

• Without something in the photo (e.g. a ruler) to give an indication of size, the adjudicator may struggle to comprehend the scale of the damage, dirt, etc.;

• If the photo is too close up, it may not be clear what the photo is of;

• The actual size of the photo may be so small that it's difficult to see any detail.

3. Not explaining what they show

It's helpful if photos are embedded in the check-in and check-out reports in the appropriate pages (e.g. photos of the kitchen should be embedded within the kitchen page, etc.). If this isn't possible, photos should be clearly cross-referenced to the relevant sections of the check-in and check-out. Make it clear in the report or on the photos what they're supposed to show (e.g. stains on carpet under coffee table, cracked shade on bedside lamp, etc.).

4. No evidence the tenant has seen the photos

Another advantage of embedding photos in the check-in and check-out reports is that the tenant should sign them to confirm they have seen the photos and on what date. If photos aren't included within the report, they should be printed off and signed by both parties. Without a signature to confirm both parties have seen a photo, its legitimacy could be challenged later.

5. Photos which aren't relevant

While it might be tempting to submit all of the photos you took at check-in and check-in, if the dispute is over gardening then photos of the bathroom really aren't relevant! When you're submitting your evidence to the adjudicator, you should ideally highlight how each photo supports your claim — so remember it's quality, not quantity, which counts.

If you'd like to know more about submitting photos and videos as evidence, we have a complete guide on our website. Remember, SafeDeposits will not visit the property — where photos aren't clear, or if it becomes a case of one word against another, we'll rely on the written reports submitted.

We've also published posts on Five Common Tenancy Agreement Mistakes and Five Common Inventory Mistakes.