When letting agents inspect rented homes (which they do - quite a lot) they are known to arrive with a clipboard, laptop, tablet or even an old-school documentation facilitation device (ie a paper notebook and a pen.)
Next, they tetchily peruse the rented property by lifting up carpets, opening cupboards, peering under beds, even - in extremes - rifling through drawers. With practiced disdain they record what they see. If they don't see faults, they are openly disappointed, although it’s the state of the place when tenants leave that matters, even if it's a pigsty there and then.
I've often wondered what would happen if prospective renters pulled the same stunt during their first look. What if potential new occupants viewed a property with a stern, inquiring air, then showily noted all the problems, before asserting: '...I would move in, but I'm going to need that heater mending,' (after insisting the central heating is switched on so they can check.)
Or 'You will - of course - be removing those old, half-empty tins of paint from the one cupboard, I assume?'
Or 'I'd like you to draught-proof the front-door and letterbox.'
All perfectly reasonable requests.
In London, which is unique (a different planet, not just a different country where housing is concerned) this would have an instantaneous and disastrous impact. The viewing would end. All hope would be lost, since renters must be permanently prostrate with gratitude for so much as the chance to bid in an overheated renting auction.
But elsewhere...it might help.
Tenants could thoroughly quiz the agent. Questions might be extremely intrusive; as intrusive, in fact as those posed by the agents as part of the moving in process: 'Do you plan to marry or have children?' apart from all the usual credit reference assurances. They would point out that the carpet needs replacing, or that the bath is chipped (so that the agent can't then try to claim the cost of an entire new bath from the tenants, as happened to me once.)
Incoming renters could insist the property is properly cleaned before they sign any agreements, then both parties could liaise on the inventory to the satisfaction of both. Tenants currently view rambling shared houses and dark, dusty flats during a resentful, obfuscatory, whistle-stop tour. They could well point out snags, only to be stonewalled by an agent amazed at such effrontery, such as when the stench of damp and visible water stains indicated a torrential leak from the flat above. The agent denied it. The vast, spreading plantation of mushrooms suggested otherwise.
Certain nay-sayers around these parts post comments saying: 'Why did you move in, if it's so terrible?' whenever I write about shoddy properties. They don't realise how hard it is to notice, let alone raise concerns when being hastily frog-marched round a flat with a strident agent in denial, who subsequently refuses to acknowledge problems, and then encourages owners to issue retaliatory notice when the tenant demands that catastrophic flaws are rectified.
But if that gaping hole in the bathroom floor had been ostentatiously recorded on a clipboard...Okay. I give in. The tenant still wouldn’t get the tenancy would they? They would be decreed ‘awkward.’ Still, it’s a lovely thought.