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Apr, 2014

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  1. #1

    Default Inventory - digital pictures

    I was chatting to a letting agent recently about inventories and was told that the digital pictures I take of the property which I put onto a CD ROM for tenants together with a written inventory would not be accepted in court as digital pictures can be faked. To be admissible pictures need to be photographs and prefereably signed on the back of each picture by the tenant when they take the property.

    Is it true that digital pictures are disregarded by courts? If this is the case I feel the law really is biased against landlords who are trying to provided an accurate inventory for the benefit of both landlord and tenant.

    Does anybody have any experience of digital pictures being ruled as inadmissible?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I don't have direct experience but I can understand the logic behind the Agent's argument. However, I don't see what difference it would make if they were digital or standard photos, if both the LL and Tenant signed and dated the back of each photo and both parties each had a copy of such signed photographs.

    As for it being baised against LL's, it could also work the other way round .. unscrupulous LL's editing digital photos to "show" that damage had been caused by the Tenant and then witholding the deposit against such "proof of damage".

    Your intentions sound very worthy but it rather pre-supposes that every tenant has a computer immediately accessible at the time of signing the inventory, in order to be able to see the views on the CD and agree them?

    Why not print them off and get the tenant to sign & dateeach photo you retain and for you to sign and date each copy the tenant retains?

    that's just my opinion however ...
    Any information or opinion given in this post is based only on my personal experience, what I have learned from this, other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person. E&OE

  3. #3
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    You can use them, but need to make sure you get proof the tenant agrees with them.

    Look at this thread, for Paul_F's post:

    http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums...ead.php?t=3512
    Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

  4. #4
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    I'm not convinced about all this. Firstly, if you are really going to rely on a photographic record, you are going to need dozens and dozens of photos - consider the field of view of an average camera, and then how many shots you'll need just to cover the whole surface of every wall, floor, ceiling of each room, never mind the detailed stuff. Then you're going to need to print out all of these in duplicate and get them signed by tenant?

    If digital pictures are the way forward, how about preparing two duplicate CDs, one for the tenant and one for the landlord? In the event of any argument over the condition of something, the relevant photo can be consulted. If the landlord and tenant produce apparently conflicting versions of the same photo to 'prove' their side of the story - one being faked - I suggest it would probably be fairly obvious looking at both photos to tell which one had been 'doctored', and it would certainly be possible for an expert to tell, should the issue get that far. So faking a photo in these circumstances would be a very stupid thing to do.

  5. #5
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    How on earth can a tenant be expected to agree a visual record of the property i.e. a CD at the time of signing the inventory without a computer to hand? which I doubt very much will be available at an empty property ... let alone compare its contents to the physical condition of the property itself.

    The Tenant would have to be allowed time to look at the photos before agreeing that they were a true reflection of the condition of the property.

    As for getting an expert witness involved in a dispute over "doctored" photos we are talking about maybe a couple of grand (max) in deposit that may be disputed and the cost such may well be more than the disputed amount itself which may well make it impossible for a tenant to sue the LL for wrongfully witholding a deposit.. hardly fair, is it?

    In my humble opinion, unless the Tenant is given time to view the photos before agreeing the condiiton, the LL could not rely on them to prove damages UNLESS he was able to produce a signed statement from the tenant saying he was given sufficient opportunity to view them and had compared them with the property itself prior to signing the written inventory and their content was agreed.

    So I agree with paul_f

    Quote Originally Posted by Ericthelobster View Post
    If digital pictures are the way forward, how about preparing two duplicate CDs, one for the tenant and one for the landlord?
    Any information or opinion given in this post is based only on my personal experience, what I have learned from this, other boards and elsewhere. It is not to be relied on. Definitive advice is only available from a Solicitor or other appropriately qualified person. E&OE

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by pippay View Post
    How on earth can a tenant be expected to agree a visual record of the property i.e. a CD at the time of signing the inventory without a computer to hand? which I doubt very much will be available at an empty property ... let alone compare its contents to the physical condition of the property itself.
    Very simply, by the landlord taking a laptop computer along when doing the inventory with the tenant. Looking at and agreeing with a few dozen pictures on screen would be no different to looking at them printed out on paper. But as I said in the beginning of my last post, I'm not convinced this is the way forward anyway...
    Quote Originally Posted by pippay View Post
    As for getting an expert witness involved in a dispute over "doctored" photos we are talking about maybe a couple of grand (max) in deposit that may be disputed and the cost such may well be more than the disputed amount itself which may well make it impossible for a tenant to sue the LL for wrongfully witholding a deposit.. hardly fair, is it?
    Agree with prohibitive cost of hiring the expert witness - my point I was trying to make was that if either LL or tenant had 'doctored' a photo, then the mere threat of the innocent party hiring an expert witness to verify it should be enough to make the faker concede the issue, as they would undoubtedly get found out and end up having all costs - including that of the expert witness - awarded against them in court.

  7. #7
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    In the days of 35 mm film it was adequate in evidence to produce a print that was endorsed on the back with words similar to "this is a print of a photograph taken by (me) on (date and time) at (location) and is a true record of my observations at the time. In an official capacity the veracity of those photographs has never been challenged.

    No photographic evidence stands as sufficient proof on its own - it is important to make clear and legible notes of what each photograph is showing.

    In a private capacity I have found that if the tenant is present you can point out to him or her each of the photographs you are taking and what they are showing.

    If your photographs tie in with the notes made at the time and those notes are countersigned by the tenant that is further evidence.

    Are we going down a false track of looking at the photographs as absolute "proof" rather than as additional evidence to substantiate written notes and documents?

    The judge will consider the quality of evidence from both sides before arriving at a decision.

    To save costs I have sent copies on CD of photographs showing the condition of the property on a tenant leaving and subsequently endorsed prints from those photographs have been accepted by the Court and (so far) have not been disputed by the tenant.
    Vic - wicked landlord
    Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
    Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by pippay View Post
    How on earth can a tenant be expected to agree a visual record of the property i.e. a CD at the time of signing the inventory without a computer to hand?
    If you put a card or stick into a digcam, and store it on that, as opposed to the camera's internal memory, it is very quick to take that out and insert directly into a suitable stand-alone printer. Photos can then be immediately printed, inspected and verified by both parties.

    I have recently been in a situation where I may have been providing evidence to an authority and subsequently a court. When I queried the legitimacy of dig images, I was advised that a statement would be needed from myself, confirming that the images were not altered.

    But another person has just said, it seems wise to make a detailed written inventory and to use photos to support that.

    But if you are thinking of using photos in this way, and you are taking close-ups, don't forget to include a size-recognizable item (eg a banknote or coin) to illustrate the size of whateve stain/mark/damage you are recording.

  9. #9
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    And why should they have to see the photo at the time of the inventory? Surely the tenant can view them at a later date(although obviously not too much later) and agree that that is the condition when they moved in?
    Any posts by myself are my opinion ONLY. They should never be taken as correct or factual without confirmation from a legal professional. All information is given without prejudice or liability.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by catcuddler View Post
    But if you are thinking of using photos in this way, and you are taking close-ups, don't forget to include a size-recognizable item (eg a banknote or coin) to illustrate the size of whateve stain/mark/damage you are recording.
    Excellent point catcuddler.
    Vic - wicked landlord
    Any advice or suggestions given in my posts are intended for guidance only and not a substitute for completing full searches on this forum, having regard to the advice of others, or seeking appropriate professional opinion.
    Without Plain English Codes of Practice and easy to complete Prescribed Forms the current law is too complex and is thus neither fair to good tenants nor good landlords.

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