Creating an audit trail might not be a direct compliance requirement, but it is still one of the most valuable things you can do to protect yourself and your business.
Gone are the days when the market operated on phone messages and you could rely on the strength of a person’s word. The British property rental sector is now one of the most tightly regulated industries in the world. Falling foul of compliance issues won’t just have financial implications – the damage it can do to an agent’s reputation could be enough to destroy the business as well.
How can an audit trail help?
By creating a detailed account of every interaction you have with client or contractors and any action you take – particularly when it comes to repairs – you have a body of evidence to call upon in case of any dispute. But it’s not enough just to note things down. Your audit trail needs to be date and time-stamped so that you can prove that not only did you say what you said you did, but you can prove when you said it.
While you’re unlikely to need to provide written back up of internal staff encounters, it’s not enough to just keep a written track record of the initial repairs report and its response. To create a truly effective audit trail, you need to detail:
- Written evidence of the contractor engagement
- Details of the workflow – under 2015’s Deregulation Act you could be called on to prove that you made every effort to resolve a repairs issue within a given timeframe. Being able to provide evidence of workflow will help build your case, even if the outcome of the repair wasn’t satisfactory.
- Speaking of which, it’s vital you include details of the repair’s outcome. Even if it was a successful slam-dunk of a repair, you need to keep a record of how it was carried out. If the outcome wasn’t satisfactory, it’s even more vital to keep detailed notes of why the outcome wasn’t satisfactory and what action was then to take to resolve the issue.
This is the bread and butter of effective repairs and maintenance software – systems like Fixflo create date and time stamped audit trails automatically, collating and filing them so that you don’t have to. Fixflo even links up with the Ombudsman automatically offering you a gold standard of protection. Legislation in this area is getting tighter – keeping accurate records is the only way to stay on the right side of it.
For more information on compliance issues, download our free eBook How Can Property Managers Ensure Compliance When Handling Repairs?.