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Tenancy deposit disputes on the rise as cost of living crisis bites

tenancy deposits

Complaints involving disputed tenancy deposits have been rising after TDS, which operates three deposit schemes in the UK, recorded a 20% increase over the past 12 months.

The scheme provider says it issued 36,609 adjudications during 2022-23, up 6,912 during the previous year.

Although the firm does not reveal its view on why deposit disputes are on the rise, factors such as the cost-of-living crisis and greater awareness among tenants about their renting rights are likely explanations.

TDS is keen to remind landlords and agents that disputes are raised in a low proportion of cases, typically fewer than 1% of tenancy deposits, with cleaning being the number one reason followed by damage to fixtures and fittings, redecoration, rent arrears and gardening.

It is landlords and agents who typically raise a dispute (76%) rather than tenants (24%) while in England and Wales, the most likely outcome of adjudicator decisions is to split the disputed deposit between the two parties.

Historical levels

The group explains that while the number of adjudications increased, the dispute percentage was 0.78%, which is low compared to historical levels; since 2014, the rate has ranged from 0.35% to 1.14% proving that agreements are usually reached beforehand.

Its analysis of data from Tenancy Deposit Scheme, Tenancy Deposit Scheme Northern Ireland, and SafeDeposits Scotland, reveals that the number of deposits protected in England and Wales grew by 5% to 4,685,417, while in Scotland, there was an increase of 5% to 259,779, and in Northern Ireland, deposit numbers at the end of March were 67,197, a 3% increase on 2022.

The value of deposits has also increased, with England and Wales totalling £4,905,089,207, up by 8% from the previous year. Scotland and Northern Ireland increased by a similar amount, to £193,701,485 and £46,774,577 respectively.

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Tenancy deposits
Deposit disputes