(Basics of) The Property Reporting Cycle

Overview

No one likes to have to redo work (as far as we know).

Working optimally and efficiently may not sound like a thrilling prospect to all, but at the end of the day, if it saves minutes in every hour, hour in every day, days in every month, then as well as avoiding the confusion and frustration of using a less-than-optimised system, it should result in a more productive time, a better outcome/product and in the longer term, all the benefits reaped from that.

When it comes to Property Reporting, this is certainly no exception. Following a well-formulated plan which includes making the most of existing information, avoiding duplication of work and having a clear (mental) picture of the whole reporting process, is the basis of a solid strategy.

Reviewing the Property Reporting Cycle

Unless we’re seeing a property for the first time, chances are we’ve already logged a good deal of information about it on a previous visit. With that info in mind, let’s explore how the information can be used to the maximum benefit by considering the Property Reporting Cycle which represents a common chronological workflow, recording important information about the state of a property through a tenancy and then to starting new tenancies

The cycle/flow of property reporting might look like this:

Inventory/Check In -> Midterm/Interim -> Check Out -> Inventory/Check In.

Inventory/Check In -> Check Out -> Inventory/Check In -> and so on.

Inventory/Check In -> Inventory/Check In -> etc.

In either case, at any point in the reporting cycle it’s an enormous benefit, (virtually essential for a midterm/interim report and particularly for a check out) to be able to reference information from a previous report. Of course, the cycle must begin somewhere, hopefully with an Inventory/Check In report, since at that point it’s not essential to reference a previous report in order to determine whether any change, deterioration or damage in/to the property had taken place.

To explore the Reporting Cycle in more depth, we’ll look at how the cycle has been implemented in Inventory Egg app, highlighting the ways in which the application of the system saves time and energy in logging only essential information whilst producing a full and adequate report from it.

First-time Inventory Report

To start an Inventory Report for our first visit to the property (we’ll consider subsequent visits later), we need to set the property address and the type of property. In the Inventory Egg app, we offer a choice of property types (a sort of template), each of which comes with a set of default rooms (optional) that represent a typical room allocation according to the property type. Property types include House, Bungalow, Studio Apartment etc.

In turn, each room is populated, by default (but also optional) with a set of items/contents, according to the type of room.

Once the property has its rooms and each room has its contents/items, adjustments can be made to add any rooms or items/contents that weren’t added by default. Likewise, any rooms/items not needed (not at the property) can easily be removed individually, or collectively via the Manage Rooms/Items functions.

Rooms have a ‘Type’ in Inventory Egg and are named by default, according to the type of room but can also be renamed (whilst retaining the type) in order to cater for any conventions or specifics at the property. The same is true for items/contents in that each has a Type and Name although for both rooms and items, it is the Name that is generally visible (‘Types’ exist in a more behind-the-scenes fashion but can be viewed and also changed).

Once rooms/items have been setup, the Description and Condition/Cleanliness information can be logged. Inventory Egg app has in-built Speech-To-Text via the ‘Speak’ button but it should also be possible to use the device’s Speech-To-Text/Dictation which might be found on the popup keyboard or via the device’s settings, according to type of device (iPhone/Android).

Information can be logged on:

Health/Safety (Smoke Detectors, Heat Detectors, Carbon-Monoxide Detectors etc)

Services/Utilities (Electricity Meters, Gas Meter, Water, Bins, Septic Tank etc)

Property Keys

Appliances (whether Gas/Electric, Model No., Serial No., Pat Test Information etc)

Schedule of Condition

Each of these areas has a dedicated and easily-located section within the app. Ease of access to these predefined sections allows the user to quickly dip in and out of them, logging information as the relevant area is encountered in the property. Alternatively, the user can address whole sections at a time, such as Health and Safety, if preferred.

Once the report is completed, it can be signed by tenants within the app or at a later time, via PDF, for example.

We’ve now digressed somewhat from the original thread, so with a first report now complete, let’s get back to it.

Back to the Reporting Cycle: Check Out and Midterm

Once we have our Inventory report synced on the system, we can look at moving forward in time.

We may be asked to provide a Midterm or Check Out report for the same property. To do that, we start by by creating the new report (‘Add/New’) within the app. But as we have our existing Inventory Report, we can base our new Midterm/Check Out on the Inventory. We do that by using the Property/Report Lookup during the setup up of our new report, selecting the relevant Property, then the previous Report.

Once our new report is created, we can then see details from the previous Inventory which allows us to easily identify any changes as we navigate around the property.

For example, as well as room/item/contents descriptions and condition information, we can also see previous meter readings, info on Smoke Detectors, Fire Extinguishers etc, alongside which we can enter new details, whether that be the new meter readings, new fuel levels (Oil/LPG) or updates on general overview of a room.

Where a change of issue needs highlighting, on a Check Out, for example, we can a ‘Flag’. Flags are a way of bringing attention to issues, problems which might include damage, cleaning issues, something needing maintenance etc. Flags created during a Check Out/Midterm report, appears as distinct sections on the final report for presentation to the tenants and for allocating repairs, maintenance to contractors etc.

Subsequent Inventory Reports

In the same way that we based our Midterm/Check Out reports on a previous Inventory, we can, likewise, base an Inventory report on previous reports at the property.

It’s important to note that not only is Inventory information passed to the Midterm/Check Out report but that it’s also passed through the Midterm/Check Out reports to be inherited by the next Inventory report. Therefore, by basing our next Inventory report on a Midterm/Check Out report (or even directly on a previous Inventory), the Inventory is prepopulated by the info from that inventory.

The logic for this is that issues/flags highlighted in the Midterm/Check Out report (probably) would/should generally have been fixed or restored to a reasonable state, so inheriting the inventory information provides the most useful starting point for our new inventory. With rooms, item/contents information already in our new inventory, we just need to update that information to reflect the current state of the property.

Note that when creating a new report from an existing one, defaults are set as to what is inherited from the previous report, but these are optional and the list of areas inherited is available so it’s possible to either include or exclude, for example, item description and condition information, health safety info etc.

For example, Photos from an Inventory/Check In report are included by default into a new Midterm or Check Out report since they represent an important source of information and they’re intended for reference whilst carrying out the Midterm/Check Out.

However, when creating a new Inventory Report from a Check Out/Midterm or previous Inventory, photos are not included by default as new photos should be taken, in order to portray the current state of the property.

With all of that in mind, if we look again at possible flows of our reporting cycle, we can see how we can work with the cycle in such a way as to avoid duplication of our work by inclusion of information from the previous Inventory/Check In, whether it may be as a starting-point for the new (Inventory/Check In) report or for reference only (Midterm/Interim/Check Out).

Original Inventory/Check In

-> Midterm/Interim (referencing the original Inventory to determine changes, damage etc)

-> Check Out (referencing the original Inventory to determine changes, damage etc)

-> Inventory/Check In (using the original Inventory as a starting point for the new one)

Fig 1. The Property Inventory Reporting Cycle

The Property Inventory Reporting Cycle

If you like the way that we’ve incorporated the Reporting Cycle into our app, please sign up for a trial or do contact us for further information or to answer any questions.