More landlords and agents are taking photographs and videos to record the condition of the property at the beginning and end of the tenancy. Unfortunately the results are not always as clear and useful as they might be.

The most important thing to remember is that photographs and videos can support a written inventory and check-out report but they can rarely replace the written word. For example, they can't portray smell and are often insufficiently detailed to show cleaning issues (such as dust or grease). It's also not unlikely that no matter how carefully someone photographs or films a property at check-in that something will be missed - for example, if there's a wine stain left under the coffee table at check-out, but this specific area of carpet wasn't filmed at check-in, the adjudicator would need to see a written inventory to confirm the condition of the carpet at check-in. Another problem with film is that it's often very fast, which can mean that it's difficult to capture all the relevant details.

Please remember SafeDeposits will not visit the property - where photographs or videos are not clear, or if it becomes a case of one word against another, the adjudicator will rely on the written inventory and check-out report submitted.

What is best practice for recording a film at check-in?

The video should be taken at the same time as the check-in to guarantee that the condition and cleanliness of the property and in the written inventory match.

It's helpful to add audio to the video to introduce the property and each room (e.g. "This video shows the property at 250 West George Street… I am walking from the hallway into bedroom one…"). This will help make clear which room is which, for an easier comparison with the written inventory.

The video should be signed and dated by hand on a label stuck to the disc itself, not its case, to confirm it was recorded at the start of the tenancy.

If the tenant has not been present for the check-in, they should be sent the film with the check-in report so they can confirm, sign and date both against what they can see in the property. It's helpful to check that the tenant has the facilities (e.g. a media player on their home computer) to watch the video in the time limit you specify to view and return the check-in report.

What is best practice for recording a film at check-out?

In the same way as the video at check-in, the video should be taken at the same time as the check-out, and should be signed and dated by hand on a label stuck to the disc itself.

It's helpful for the film to follow the same route around the property to allow a side-by-side comparison by the adjudicator.

It can be difficult to notice every detail in a property when watching a video of every room. Please help the adjudicator by noting important scenes (e.g. "Kitchen sink shown with damage to left hand-side in check-out film at 6 minutes 15 seconds", "Cracked shade on bedside lamp in check-out film at 12 minutes 30 seconds") in the written report.

How can I submit a video to SafeDeposits?

You can submit your videos at the same time as submitting the rest of your evidence, either by:

  • Uploading to our online evidence portal through your user account;

  • Posting the video to our Glasgow office in CD or DVD format.

We have a short YouTube video which explains step-by-step how to use our online evidence portal.

The question for this week's #AskSafeDeposits blog post was submitted by Tempo Lettings on Twitter. If you have a question you would like us to answer, please tweet us, or send an email to