The recent “Five Common... Mistakes” blog series concerning inventories, photo evidence and communication highlight a range of important issues for landlords and letting agents. Moray Watson, the Business Development Consultant for iSurvey Property Inspector for Scotland, has advice on how to produce your inventories and other reports while avoiding these common pitfalls:

Issue 1: An unclear inventory

Unclear reports don't provide a fair reference point for tenants and can make life difficult if you need to present evidence to an adjudicator at the end of a tenancy. When creating any report, landlords and agents should consider content and structure including:

• Well defined introductory wording explaining how the report should be read, explanations of any abbreviations and guidance for tenants (e.g. the length of time permitted to propose changes to an inventory and expectations about how the property should be left at check-out);
• Remember condition and cleanliness are not the same so both should be noted – if the inventory only mentions condition the adjudicator can't assume how clean the property was at the start of the tenancy;
• The condition of items should be described thoroughly instead of a one word definition which may be open to interpretation – your definition of “good” may differ from mine!
• To help an adjudicator calculate how much to award if an item is claimed for at the end of the tenancy, it's helpful to provide further details about items in the inventory, including quantity, features, brand, material, design, etc.

Issue 2: Unconnected photos and item descriptions

Random photos that aren't linked to your report don't add much value, so I recommend:

• Embedding dated and timed photographs beside item descriptions to give comfort the inventory was completed contemporaneously with the move in;
• Highlighting problems or damage separately with related photographs carrying a description of the issue.

Issue 3: You're drowning in paper!

If you've ever lost a paper inventory, received a copy back from a tenant with illegible scribbled comments or lost track of what was done when, you're not alone. Going paperless, by using an app for instance, could remove these frustrations:

• Tenants can view the report content either at the property or in the office and sign on the device to acknowledge receipt. Using an electronic signature system can work here too;
• Their signature appears on each page of the inventory report and they have an agreed period to suggest alterations;
• Report PDFs are available online so you and the tenant can access them.

Issue 4: An incomplete audit trail

Going paperless can also provide a tighter audit trail because:

• PDF reports can be emailed to tenants so you have proof it was sent;
• Tenants can email feedback about proposed changes to the inventory – including photographs – so you can record these in an updated version for reissue.

Issue 5: Fragmented communication

As well as a thorough inventory process at the start of the tenancy, consistent reporting during and at the end of the tenancy will provide helpful evidence if there's a dispute over the deposit return:

• Periodic inspection reports are a quick and easy way to document and photograph maintenance issues raised by the tenant. Some agents choose to send these PDFs to landlords and/or tenants to demonstrate they're looking after the property and taking action. These reports can also provide valuable evidence if you have raised an issue about tenant behaviour which needs to be remedied through the deposit scheme;
• Producing a check–out report in the same format as the check–in report enables easy start versus end of tenancy comparison to be drawn using before and after descriptions and photos in a format familiar to all parties.

To find out more about the inspector app go to or contact Moray on 07870 749408 or