How to start a home inventory business
Are you a big fan of ‘Homes Under The Hammer’ or ‘Location, Location Location’ and love seeing what the condition of the homes the presenters are visiting?
If so then this is the ideal home business for you by becoming an Inventory Assistant and run your own Property Inventory Service.
So what is this business?
Running your own Inventory Business means compiling a detailed report which is a list and description of the contents and conditions of a house or flat prior to the property being let out to a future Tenant.
At the end of the tenancy an additional report is required for the landlord to check that there have been no damages, missing items etc.
The report is known as an Inventory Report and are really important to the Landlord and also the tenant as it can resolve any disputes at the end of the tenancy.
It protects both parties. The Landlord has protection against damage of their property and the tenants can protect their deposits with unnecessary deductions at the end of the tenancy.
Skills you need
- Can follow well established procedures
- Excellent eye for detail
- Good communicator
- Enjoy dealing with members of the public, business owners and landlords
- Have the ability to work well on your own
- Be reliable
- You are smart and presentably dressed
- Fully experienced in IT skills
- Produce detailed reports on the properties you are visiting (which can be sent via email)
- Have good time management skills
The good news is that you do not need to have any experience in working for an estate agent or with landlords. As long as you have the skills referred to above then you could be ideal.
This business does not require you to work in an office and this business can be done from home (although you do need to visit the properties!)
If you live in a large town or city with good public transport you will not even need a car.
You will also require a portable IPad, laptop or computer, Dictaphone, and a good camera on your phone. Most smart phones these days have excellent cameras so you will not need to purchase any special camera.
You will of course need Insurance and I suggest you speak to an Insurance broker for the necessary cover required.
You may also have to have a DBS check as you are going into people’s homes. However, I recommend you speak to the Estate/Letting agent about this.
Why do the Estate/Letting Agents not do their own?
Quite simply the majority of them do not have the time.
What an Inventory Assistant is required to do
The main aspects of the role is inspecting properties, take photographs or videos of a property (both furnished and unfurnished) and prepare an honest report of the contents and the condition of the property before any tenant moves in. In addition at the end of the tenancy you will be required to return to again collect evidence, take photographs or video of the property and report back on any changes in the property while the tenant has been renting. These can include if any items are missing from original report, are there any damages to the property and the general state of the property.
With furnished or partly furnished properties you need to report on everything which can include crockery, cutlery, tableware, light switches, light bulbs, curtains etc.
What type of properties would an Inventory Assistant be visiting?
All types of properties, furnished, part furnished and empty properties. You would be covering all types from a bedsit up to a large house
What is the earning potential?
This is dependable on the amount of properties you visit. However you could expect to earn around £50 to around £100 (estimated for a two bedroom property) to visit a property, inspect it thoroughly, take pictures, measurements and prepare a detailed report.
Once you have established yourself as reliable you could be visiting around 2 properties per day. Let’s just assume you work 2 days a week and visit 2 properties you could earn around £400 per week. So this could even be a part time job which could be done potentially evenings and weekends. Another way to enhance your earnings (once established) is to train an assistant up to do the Inventories and take a percentage of the earnings.
Why this business is growing in popularity
The reason this business has grown is the introduction of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme in 2017.
Brief overview of The Tenancy Deposit Scheme 2017
When a tenant agrees to rent a property they normally give a deposit of around 1 month rent in advance. The Landlord must place this deposit in a government backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP). There are separate TDP schemes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The TDP guarantees the tenant will get back their deposit providing they have done the following:-
- Meet the terms of the tenancy agreement (and this is where your report(s) can determine this.
- Do not damage the property
- The tenant pays the bills and rent on time (this is something you will not be responsible for)
A Landlord/letting agent must place the deposit in the scheme within 30 days of receiving it.
At the end of the tenancy the Landlord must return the deposit within 10 days of the tenant and Landlord agreeing how much the tenant should receive back (the Landlord/tenant will refer to the Inventory report you have produced to decide how much to return). So you can see how important your report is to all parties.
Should there be a disagreement the deposit is protected in the TDP until the matter has been resolved
Who would I contact to sell my service?
Almost everyone who is involved with letting out their property. These include
- All local Estate Agents
- Letting Agents
- Private Landlords
- Property Managers
- Managing Agents
- Home owners (as they could be wanting to rent out their property)
- Housing Associations
- Local Councils (they have many properties renting out to local people)
- Holiday lets
- Commercial properties
- Local stores
How to get clients
The best way to get started is to contact all the local estate agents, landlords and letting agents in your area. You can do this in several ways
- Visit the local branches in person and introduce yourself. Leave a flyer or business card and explain you are starting this business and are they interested in your service.
- Check all the local estate agents and letting agents via either the Yellow Pages or a quick Google search will bring up several results and send a sales letter to them. A few days later give them a call. In your letter introduce yourself and explain how useful having a freelance Inventory Assistant could be to their business.
- Why not offer a free service to them. Do 3 inventory reports for free and see if they like your service.
- You could simply just call them saying you are going to be in the area in a few days ad could you visit their office to discuss further.
- Find out if there are any other inventory assistants in your area and you could offer to help them with the overflow. This would be a great foot in the door as you can cover for sickness, holidays etc
- Set up a social media account on Twitter and connect with all the local Estate agents, landlords etc
Your first meeting with your potential client
By getting a meeting with your potential client is good news as it means they are interested. Of course they may do their own but you can say to them that you will save them time and money and so outsourcing would be of great benefit to them.
Explain to them that is it more cost effective to use you as you are going to be self-employed and will not need to be in the office and that you have your own transport (they will not have to pay for a car).
State that you can take this job off them as they can then work on other aspects of their business. Maybe they simply hate doing this job and may only do a quick inventory. This is where mistakes can happen and could further down the road lead to major problems with the tenant. By employing you as a freelancer you can simply concentrate on the inventories and they would be prepared quicker and cheaper.
Show them you TOTALLY understand the business
Before you visit all the local Estate Agents it is vital you are fully aware of all aspects of this business. A potential client must be confident that they could hand the work over to you rather than someone else and that you can answer any questions they may raise.
Key points to remember.
An inventory is the listing of all contents of the property (regardless of furnished or unfurnished).
- The inventory should be ready for the day the tenant moves in (Check In Inventory) and both the landlord/tenant will sign to say they agree with what is on the inventory form.
- At the end of the lease of the property there is a second inventory (Check Out Inventory) which must be ready on the day the tenant is leaving and the landlord reviews this and both parties sign the inventory.
- 6 month check – the Landlord may require more than a check in and check out and may want a regular 6 monthly check just to make sure all is in order. This inventory is known as Intermediate Inspection/Inventory Check. So you can see that there is extra profit.
- For one client you can get at least 3 Inventory checks. Remember you are charging for 3 checks not just 1. You could negotiate that if you do the full 3 checks you will reduce the bill by say 20%, but of course that is up to you.
- The tenant is responsible for any damage that has occurred in the property (but the landlord takes into account normal wear and tear).
- Remember all you do is record everything you see in the property – you do not get into discussions/debates with the Landlord or tenant.
- If any damage has occurred, or anything is lost from the inventory, the tenant is liable to pay for this – excluding any fair wear and tear. However, this is always sorted out by the landlord/letting agent and the tenant themselves.
How an Inventory Check works
You will need to be ready at short notice sometimes to do your check (so make sure your potential client is aware that you can do this).
You will need to make a call to the tenant so you can arrange a good time to visit (weekends may work better or even early mornings prior to the tenant going to work).
Make sure you have a good template that covers everything and that you can update on your PC later that day. Normally the Landlord would have a standard form which ideally would make things easier to follow for all.
Have a routine for inspecting a home. Maybe start with the garden, ground floor and then move upstairs. Is it vital you cover everything and do not miss a thing.
When writing things down do make sure you are not mixing rooms/contents up as when you get home you cannot simply call the tenant to ask further questions. If in doubt about certain
Items or condition of the property take a lot of photos so you can refer back. Also use the Dictaphone to record your views so you can refer to this also when back at home preparing the report.
Try to take a video of each room – for clarification when you are writing up you report. One good selling point would be to take video evidence to present to the Landlord/Tenant – you may be able to charge an add on fee for this.
Prepare the report within 3 hours of you getting home and send a copy to the Landlord and potential tenant on the same day. Make sure you have a copy for yourself on record.
Good Trade Association
Association of Independent Inventory Clerks
As you can see this business is ideal as the rental marketing is growing considerably.