Introducing the latest weapon against bad landlords... the iHome

A MOBILE phone app that could reduce disputes between landlords and their tenants has been launched today.

Housing charity Shelter Scotland created the free Housemate app for iPhones in a bid to help prevent and resolve rows over tenancy deposits.

Director Graeme Brown has described the device as a “simple but highly effective” tool.

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The Housemate app, which is sponsored by the property services group Orchard and Shipman, generates a full digital inventory of a property’s contents and condition, with photographs included.

The creators of the app hope these inventories will be so comprehensive that there will be few grounds for argument between landlords and their tenants when it comes to returning a deposit at the end of a tenancy.

Mr Brown said: “Too many tenants have all or part of their deposit withheld unfairly and their chances of arguing successfully for its return are often compromised by a lack of evidence.

“With Housemate, both tenant and landlord will have the proof they need.

“Not only does it create a full record of what a property contains and the condition it’s in, it also includes photographic evidence.

“The resulting inventory can then be shared via email. It’s simple but highly effective.

“We hope that for users of Housemate, arguments over deposits will become a thing of the past and landlords and tenants alike can enjoy a positive, mutually-beneficial relationship.”

Orchard and Shipman’s Edinburgh letting agent Letfirst has been testing the app.

Angela McLachlan, director at the property services group, said: “Tenants and landlords are often unsure what to expect from or how to create an inventory.

“This app demystifies the entire inventory process.”

She added: “The great thing about Housemate is its simplicity.

“It is easy to navigate and has an extensive catalogue of furniture, appliances and other household items from which to select – making it very easy to create a comprehensive photographic and written inventory.

“Letfirst is delighted to be partnering with Shelter Scotland for the Housemate app and looks forward to the positive benefits that we know this will bring.”

The app can be downloaded from the iPhone’s app store or from Shelter Scotland’s website.

The move follows on from the introduction of a new scheme which aims to protect deposits, requiring landlords to hand these over to a Scottish Government-approved third party.

With more than 270,000 households renting from private landlords, about £75 million is expected to be transferred.

Landlords and letting agents have until next May to lodge all deposits and after 2 October they will be required by law to hand over all new deposits within 30 working days of a tenancy starting.

The Scottish Government says an estimated £3.6m in deposits is wrongly retained by landlords each year.