Can landlords and agents take photographs during property inspections?

EstateAgentsToday have just published an article on the ethics of taking photographs/video whilst carrying out a routine property inspection.

It can be seen here, and says:

Taking photographs or video footage during a routine property inspection can be a contentious subject. While landlords have every right to know how the property they own is being maintained and there is an expectation of physical evidence to prove that it’s being kept in good condition, for the renter, having an agent or landlord come into your home and take pictures can feel intrusive.Furthermore, when a property is being marketed, photographs and video may be shared online, causing potential security and privacy issues. Renters have the right not to be identified by the material. So how can agents and property managers strike the right balance, help renters feel comfortable with photographs being taken, and ensure the appropriate level of privacy is maintained?

Focus on the property’s condition

It’s important to remember that while landlords and agents are well within their rights to take photographs and videos of a property, those images should be focused on the condition the property is in, not the renter’s possessions. As such, the photos you take should not be excessive. Try to steer clear of personal possessions and advise renters to point out or move away any belongings that they would like to be omitted from photographs before the inspection.Additional care should be taken to ensure that no identifying details such as family photographs, addresses, financial documents or other personal details are recorded or shared.

The health and safety angle

Photographs can be used to indicate whether correct safety guidance is being followed. For example, fire doors and exits should be kept clear, and heating devices like radiators and boilers should not be covered by clothing or other materials. You should also note any appliances being used incorrectly or power sockets being overloaded. Property inspections present great opportunities for agents and landlords to offer occupiers potentially life-saving advice regarding electrical safety.

Zoom in on repairs and maintenance

One of the most important ways photographs can be used is to indicate items that require repairs or maintenance. Consider the nature of the issue and what level of detail may be required. A close-up photo of a faulty appliance part may be more useful than one simply showing the appliance itself. If the issue relates to how an appliance functions, a video may help even further.

Take a snapshot of the property’s cleanliness

Keeping the property clean and tidy is an important part of any tenancy contract. Use photos to illustrate the condition of a property and note areas that are dirty, cluttered or require further attention.

Keeping renters comfortable

Taking simple steps to explain exactly what you’re taking photographs of and why it’s important to record the condition of the property is one way to ease the process and ensure renters don’t feel overly scrutinised. Being transparent about what you’re recording will go a long way to putting your renter’s mind at ease about any invasions of privacy.

Don’t forget to remind them that, like with a standard inventory, a photographic record of how the property looks at any time during the tenancy could end up protecting the renter, just as much as it protects the landlord.

For further information, Fixflo has produced a downloadable Property Inspection Pack which includes a guide, report template and handy checklist.

*Simon Bushell is the Sales Director at Fixflo.

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