Despite the introduction of tenancy deposit protection schemes, when it comes to the time to leave, tenants often fear and dread the prospect of losing all or a part of their deposit. Issues in the property or if the landlord comes up with some other reason for not returning it will prey on their minds.
Likewise, on the landlord’s side, there are worries about what damage or mess that tenants might have left in the property until a full inspection can be done.
According to deposit protection scheme my|deposits cleaning costs and unpaid rent are the top reasons why deposit money is withheld when a tenant moves out of a rented property.
With the increasing popularity of renting and the number of renters increasing year after year, the number of deposit disputes between tenants and landlords is increasing.
One million more households are renting privately since 2005, which now amounts to 3.4million according to the English Housing Survey, so the potential for disputes is considerable.
Of those landlords that did claim at least some of the deposit, 78 per cent reported the most common factor issue was cleaning costs needing the services of an expensive professional cleaning service.
Tenants leaving with outstanding rent was another major cause for withholding the deposit, with a common issue of tenants failing to pay the last rent instalment. Fear of losing the deposit when they know there may be issues in the property often prompts this action by tenants.
Other issues involve damage to the landlord’s contents and missing items which were recorded on the inventory when a tenant moved in.
Eddie Hooker, of my|deposits, told thisismoney.co.uk:
“Tenants can avoid having any of the deposit withheld by ensuring the property is clean, any damage is repaired, and the rent is paid up to the day they move out. But general wear and tear should also be taken into account by landlords and agents… It’s worth noting that less than two per cent of tenancies end in a dispute over the deposit.”
Landlords can avoid losing a claim for damage in the rented property with a methodical approach to documentary evidence: good inventories on check in and check-out, ideally completed by an independent inventory clerk, together with copies of invoices for replacements and work done, plus statements from witnesses where necessary.
Deposit dispute claims are based on documentary evidence only, so landlords and agents must produce this evidence if they are to stand any chance of winning a claim.
my| deposits has produced a guide to deposit disputes which shows how to use documentary evidence including photos and videos as supporting evidence during a tenancy deposit dispute.
The guide entitled ‘Using photos and video as evidence’, was produced by Suzy Hershman, head adjudicator at my|deposits.
The guide offers practical advice on how to produce photographic evidence as part of a comprehensive inventory at the start and the end of the tenancy, making sure that the photos and videos are acceptable as evidence in any dispute.
An excellent guide to winning deposit disputes by ex-arbitrator Tom Derrett – “How to Win Deposit Disputes” is available here