Deposit disputes at highest ever levels recorded
Date online: 04/04/2016
In 2015, adjudications leapt by 11% year on year, to 27,816 and up 2,787 on 2014. Over the last five years, adjudications have jumped by a massive 36%.
The TDS data also shows that damage, cleaning and redecoration are the most common reasons given for a tenancy deposit dispute. In the cases submitted to the TDS in 2014-2015, cleaning appeared in 58% of cases and damage in 52%.
Fig 1 Adjudications completed each year – Source TDS 2015
March 2008 458
March 2009 8,098
March 2010 20,363
March 2011 18,156
March 2012 20,279
March 2013 24,448
March 2014 25,029
March 2015 27,816
Jane Morris, Managing Director of PropertyLetByUs.com comments: “These statistics are worrying and send a clear message to landlords and agents – this problem is not going away until they are better protected at the start, during and at the end of a tenancy agreement.
It is vital that landlords and agents ensure they get all the paperwork right at the start and at the end of a new tenancy agreement. The reality is that some landlords are failing to put a letting contract in place, or they have very unfair clauses in the contact. Other landlords don’t conduct an adequate check-in and check-out, or don’t keep copies of correspondence with the tenant which could provide important evidence in a dispute.
Landlords and agents should also have a thorough and detailed inventory which will enable both parties to be treated fairly and reasonably. This documentation will help resolve potential disputes and prevent them reaching the courts.”
PropertyLetByUs.com has compiled some guidelines to help avoid tenant disputes:
- Do not be tempted to compile your own inventory. This is a very important document that records the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. It needs to be produced by trained professionals who understand what needs to be recorded and how. Many landlords are unaware of what photographic and descriptive evidence is required, in the event of a dispute. All this evidence, should be noted with fine detail descriptions at the start of the tenancy
- Always ensure that there is a full check-in carried out at the start to the tenancy, with both the tenant and the landlord/letting agent present. The check-in document should be seen by all parties and agreed to, after any required amendments and changes have been made. Also ensure that the tenant is present at the check-out, where any damage or cleaning issues can be pointed out and resolved.
- It is important that the property is fit for letting. When the tenant moves in, the property should be clean and outside areas, neat and tidy. It is worth pointing out to the tenant the common areas for cleaning issues such as the oven, fridge, kitchen cupboards and bathrooms. If you let the property without having it cleaned, you can’t expect the tenant to leave it in a better condition than when they took it on
- Mid-term checks – it is wise to make regular checks on the property, so that any damage etc can be flagged up to the tenant and any problems resolved before they escalate. It is acceptable to visit a property every 3-4 months
- Have regular communication ongoing with your tenants and encourage them to report any problems, as and when they occur during the tenancy. This ensures that your property will be kept in as good a condition as possible and that if any issues and problems arise, they can be resolved before the end of the tenancy.