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Letting agents using clandestine inventory companies to sidestep fees ban, says trade body

AIIC says tenants are already being offered services by 'independent' inventory firms which in reality are owned by the agent involved.

Nigel Lewis

An industry body has accused unscrupulous letting agents of setting up front companies to offer tenants ‘independent’ inventory reports which in reality are carried out by the agent managing the property. This will be optional and, because it is a third party completing the inventories, supposedly not treated as a fee charged by a letting agent.

Therefore, this kind of set up can enable agents to side-step the fees ban by recommending to tenants or landlords that they use a local, independent inventory service that they indirectly control and earn fees from.

danny zane inventoriesThe allegation is made by Daniel Zane (left), the chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), who says tenants must not be deceived in this way and should be told when an inventory report has been compiled “by and for the agent or landlord”, he says.

“Unbiased, impartial inventory reports remain the most protective system in place for the tenant’s deposit and its safe return with or without deductions,” says Zane.

“The impartiality of these reports are crucial for the protection of tenants and their finances as it is only when carried out by an impartial third party inventory clerk that the report can back up their case against a rogue landlord.”

The AIIC claims letting agents are setting up inventory businesses in a bid to replace the revenues that they will lose after the fees ban is introduced on June 1st.

The association claims that to ensure deposit deductions are administered fairly, the system requires inventory clerks who are independent.

Research published by the government recently revealed that agents charge between £50 and £216 for an inventory check, and that the average is £103, although one unnamed agent was recently revealed to have charged £1,071.

February 12, 2019

9 comments

  1. With the greatest of respect, I have 2 issues with this article: –
    (1) It is written by the head of an organisation that will be losing clients as tenant fee ban means more agents bring inventories in house to save money.
    (2) I cannot believe that any tenant would pay for a check out inventory. In my many years experience tenants vacate expecting their deposit back irrespective of how they have left the property and get very anxious when we disagree with their opinions. Why, when they are still thinking all is rosy, would they want to pay someone to agree/dispute their opinion?

  2. Hi I’ve updated the story to make re-enforce the point that agents are allegedly using these ‘off book’ companies to earn income from landlords and tenants without revealing their true ownership. So for example, agents will ask tenants to complete an inventory before moving out but, although they can’t charge a fee after June 1st, they can recommend a company to complete the work. Which they control!

  3. This feature has confused me. The legislation states that any type of fee will be banned, including inventory costs, referencing fees and guarantor charges. How can an independent inventory clerk make these charges for their services, post 1 June? Surely the legislation is banning this?

  4. “These companies can enable agents to side-step the fees ban by recommending to tenants that they use a local, independent inventory service….”

    It’s not the tenant that appoints the inventory clerk but the landlord so this makes no sense at all

    But show us the evidence

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