Letting agents deal with inventories in a confused way, a trade body has said, with some doubling their profit by charging both tenant and landlord.
The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks said that practice varies from agent to agent in & lsquo;shark infested waters & rsquo;.
AIIC chair Pat Barber said: & ldquo;There are three accepted parts of the inventory process. The new inventory compilation, the check-in and the check-out. Each part is vital to a safe let since the inventory is a legal document and important evidence in the event of a tenancy dispute.
& ldquo;Letting agents deal with each of these operations in a variety of confusing ways. Inventory compilation is usually paid for by the landlord since it is in their best interest to have this compiled to protect their investment.
& ldquo;This means that at the start of each let, a definitive description of the condition of their property and its contents is available. Check-in: usually the tenant pays for this. The check-in process is a firm demonstration to the tenant that & lsquo;someone & rsquo; is on their side and actively working to ensure fairness and impartiality.
& ldquo;This is the time when the tenant has the opportunity to ensure that they have input in protecting their security deposit, by agreeing the contents of the inventory. Not all agents offer a full check-in, but those that do will certainly find that their percentage of end of tenancy disputes will fall rapidly.
& ldquo;The check-out can be paid for by either landlord or tenant and sometimes both.
& ldquo;I am aware of agents who double their profit by charging both landlord and tenant for one or more parts of the inventory process. & rdquo;
She added: & ldquo;This confusing pricing structure seems to apply to most other fees and commissions that tenants and landlords are faced with & ndash; whether the letting agent is a member of a recognised industry organisation or not. No wonder then that at last rumblings are heard about restricting or regulating fees.
& ldquo;Complete restriction is clearly not the way forward, as this will strangle the lettings sector and cause huge problems for the many good agents running a successful and morally profitable business.
& ldquo;There must be a compromise here. & nbsp;
& ldquo;Agents & rsquo; fees should be transparent from the start and clients must know exactly how much is payable and at what stage of the process. Tenants and landlords will not always ask the right questions. & nbsp;They will not be experienced in the sometimes shark-infested waters of the lettings business. & rdquo;
& ldquo;It is surely up to those trained to provide the answers and to to give out all the information required. This is simply good business practice. & rdquo;
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