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Dealing With Tenancy Deposit Disputes

12th March 2020 Simon Holland

On occasion, when tenants vacate a property, whether it is after giving the required notice or whether they leave early, there arises a dispute regarding the return of the tenancy deposit.

Our company policy is to take a tenancy deposit equal to 5 weeks rent off all new tenants, in-line with UK government guidelines, and we immediately protect those funds with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS). We must also issue the tenants with what is known as ‘Prescribed Information’ within the first 30 days, which basically outlines the terms and conditions of the deposit scheme, as well as all relevant contact details for the scheme’s administrators and all interested parties. We issue our tenants with that important on the day their tenancy commences, before they even sign our new tenancy agreement.

Should a dispute arise over the tenancy deposit at the end of a tenancy, and as agent we cannot reach an agreement between the landlord and the tenant, the DPS can step in and offer a free dispute resolution service. This is a FREE, FAST, FAIR and reassuring service for both parties, and is to be used only when the agent/landlord and tenant cannot reach an agreement over how much is to be deducted from the tenancy deposit.

Disputes can arise when we as agent, acting on behalf of one of our landlords, have decided to withhold a portion of the tenancy deposit, for reasons that may have come to light when we attended the check-out of the property.

Common reasons for this may include, but are not limited to:

1. Carpet Cleaning, stains and/or replacement carpets

2. General Cleaning and Tidying of internal/external areas

3. Redecorating, painting

4. Repairs to broken items i.e. glass shower panels, internal doors, kitchen cupboards or ovens

5. Missing/Stolen or abandoned items i.e furniture, beds, wardrobes, tables or chairs

6. Rent Arrears

As a managing agent, we always try to offer tenants the opportunity to address any matters themselves, but there are times when this is either not possible, or they simply choose not to.

We always make time to personally walk through the property on the day the tenant vacates, with the tenant present, so that together we can identify any issues that may become a problem and have an impact on the return of their tenancy deposit. We allow one hour for this important appointment.

It is important to remember that the landlord is our client and we must at all times act in their interests. We do however, always endeavour to act fairly and swiftly and if necessary negotiate or mediate between the two parties, so that we can all reach an amicable solution, as quickly as possible.

In the interest of fairness, we complete a detailed written and photographic inventory when the tenancy begins, and we cross check this when the tenancy ends, taking into account any differences we may find upon check-out. As agent for the landlord, we must be able to clearly demonstrate that any deductions from a tenancy deposit are valid and fair, as this will form an important part of any future dispute resolution.

We always aim to resolve matters fairly and as swiftly as possible, so the tenants can regain their funds and move on to their new property at the very earliest opportunity, with the minimum of fuss possible, and the landlord can re-let their property with the minimum amount of fuss, delay, damage or dilapidation.

Further information on this excellent scheme is available here: DPS Tenant’s Guide