Independent Inventories Should Back the Fitness for Habitation Bill, the AIIC Insists
Em Morley - January 11, 2019
Independent inventories and the clerks that create them
should back the upcoming Homes
(Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, according to Danny Zane, the Chair of
the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).
Independent inventory reports already cover safety and
compliance throughout rental properties.
Renting, in both the social and private sectors, is not fit
for purpose, the AIIC claims. It has found that too many tenants live in unsafe
conditions. In total, over one million private and social tenancies (home to
about 2.5 to three million people, including children) have Category 1 hazards.
According to the 2015/16 English Housing Survey, the number
of properties with a Category 1 hazard under the Housing Health and Safety
Rating System (HHSRS), which is defined as a “serious and immediate risk to a
person’s health and safety”, included:
244,122 social rental homes
794,600 private rental homes
Zane says: “As such, as a profession, we believe this
Bill is hugely important for the future of tenancies in the UK, ensuring safety
and the protection of both private and social tenants. Furthermore, we believe
that we have a significant contribution to make in the implementation and
enforcement of this Bill as the sector moves forward.”
At present, inventory clerks function as safety and
compliance officers. At the beginning of tenancies, for instance, they:
Check all soft furnishings for the correct
Assure that all pull cords meet safety criteria
Note any potential trip hazards
Note any mould issues in the property
Zane claims: “Accordingly, it is clear that our role,
while enabling landlords to protect their investments and the tenancy itself,
is an essential part of the safety and compliance procedures for all aspects of
“As such, it would seem that the obvious next step
in the rented sector and tenancy legislation would be to make sure impartial
inventory reports are complied and agreed with by all parties at the start of
the tenancy, and ideally are made mandatory.”
In the meantime, Zane believes that, at the very
least, agents must be made to state who has compiled their reports, and be
transparent about their relationship with the organisation or person, and/or
the property itself.
Unfortunately, the upcoming introduction of the letting agent fee ban has left tenants
vulnerable to partial reports that would not stand up in disputes, as the AIIC
is now seeing agents making money through seemingly independent inventory
companies that are, in reality, not independent and, instead, serve to boost
the income of the agent.
Moreover, there is further discussion to be had around
transparency aiding tenants’ knowledge of their rights, so that they are aware
that inventory reports can be carried out by independent clerks where they may
have been organised and carried out by the agent or landlord themselves, and
can therefore be far from impartial and legitimate.
As an organisation, the AIIC serves the largest letting
agencies in the UK, and therefore believes that it has a powerful role to play
in this aspect of housing policy.