Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

When tenants hand in their notice, less interested landlords strap themselves in for the inescapable deposit dispute. Proactive landlords will be comfortable, knowing how to safeguard themselves and their property from the start of a tenancy agreement.

Where we fail

Most landlords are aware of the gaping grey area that sits between a check-in and check-out inventory. Fair “wear and tear” can often be badly defined and therefore leaves certain classifications of damage open to debate.

Cleanliness now accounts for 53% of all deposit disputes, which has increased by 13% in the last three years. The key is to raise observations around cleanliness during the check-in inventory, writing that you expect your property to be in top condition when the tenant checks-out. It’s also important to raise any concerns during periodic property inspections throughout the tenancy.

It’s equally difficult to prove if damage such as blocked drains and wall plaster chips are down to negligence and not legacy issues from before the tenancy began. Again, the only way to counteract this argument is to identify these issues in writing from the outset.

For example, why not state in the agreement that minor scuffs and scrapes to the plaster come under “wear and tear”, but if plaster damage is clearly negligent or intentional then a repair cost will be claimed. It’s more effort at the start but will cover you long term.

Burden of proof is yours

If a tenancy deposit dispute goes to arbitration, you have the burden of proof. That means you must display evidence to support your claims, allowing an independent adjudicator to review everything you present. Looking at it, around 40% of all disputes were adjudicated in the last financial year.

The more thorough your evidence, the better chance you have of a favorable outcome. That means you’ll need detailed check-in and check-out inventories, photographs, cleaning receipts and quotes from cleaners that prove what you paid – this will help to verify that your charges are proportionate, allowing you to fully cover your costs.

If at any stage, from the start of the tenancy agreement through to the check-out inventory, you have been lax with your written detail – there is potential you will become unstuck when negotiating expensive maintenance disagreements.

Get help quick

According to Simply Business, landlords in the UK are out of pocket to the tune of over £5bn every year because of damage to property and unpaid rent. For a critical understanding of how to manage your tenant using best-practice processes and documentation, join our free webinar. Visit:

Article Courtesy of: James Davis – Portfolio Landlord & Property Expert

When you start out as a landlord from the age of 22 you learn a thing or two about managing property. This week James offers a helping hand for landlords facing deposit disputes and best practice to avoid such quarrels in the future.

Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.


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