The short answer is yes. Remote, Online or Desktop reports are just as valid as an on-site. Let me explain why;
Time and Distance
Property Inspection Reports used to be carried out by local councils. However due to cutbacks more and more councils have been stopping their service, leaving it to private companies like ourselves to do the work. But this means that there are a lot of locations where it is just not possible to get a report because there are no inspectors available at a reasonable cost. For instance we cannot get inspectors on the Scottish Islands so we would have to send one from the mainland and the cost to the applicant would be in the thousands of pounds.
We also find that a lot of people don't know about the requirement for a report until they go to submit their documentation. As a result we receive a majority of requests from people who need their report within the next 10 days.
Without the possibility of an Online report there is simply no way for these people to get a report in time and within a reasonable budget. The authorities recognise this and allow for a remote report by a suitably qualified and experienced expert.
But aren't Online reports open to fraud?
It's a good question. And yes, both on-site and online reports are open to possible fraud.
during a physical on-site inspection people can tell us 2 people will be living in a premises when 7 are planned. For an online report they can say the rooms are larger than they are.
It's for these reasons that the Home Office rely on trusted and experienced surveyors like ours.
From experience our inspectors can judge if the room sizes are likely in a specific premises and what the layout is likely to be. Combine this with the ability for you to provide supporting information and we have a pretty good idea if the application is truthful.
Where we have doubts then we can ask for further clarification or do checks against for instance floor plans that were filed when planning permission was applied for. Even a simple check using something like Google Maps can be effective.
For this reason it is important that as much supporting documentation as possible is provided. In our online questionnaire we allow visa applicants to upload documents such as lease agreements, floor plans and photographs.
The fact is the immigration authorities don't have the resources to review each report in detail and will likely refuse it if they have any doubts. Whether it is on-site or online, a report with plenty of supporting documentation that has been produced by someone who is obviously qualified and experienced can be the difference where any ambiguity arises.