If you’re looking to avoid time-consuming and costly disputes with your tenants about their deposits, there are several key factors that will ensure your route to success.
Good communication with your tenants and having your paperwork in order are essential.
As many as a third of deposit disputes do not proceed to a formal adjudication process, which can be partly attributed to landlords and tenants communicating first, according to my deposits, which carried out the research.
Tim Frome, legal services manager at my|deposits said: “Whenever we receive notification from the tenant of a potential dispute we always recommend they speak to their landlord first.
“These figures help show the value of sitting down, talking to your tenant and explaining the reasons for your proposed deductions to the deposit can help lessen the likelihood of a formal deposit dispute. It’s always worth trying to negotiate as using the scheme’s formal dispute resolution process can take time.”
He went onto remind landlords that the deposit, by law, is the tenant’s money.
“If the tenant doesn’t agree with your deductions then they have the right to raise a formal dispute with their deposit scheme to reclaim the deposit money,” he said.
One of the key pieces of paper you’ll need in a dispute about deposits is an inventory. Ideally, you will have paid for one of these before the tenant has moved into the property as it will show the condition that it was in when you handed over the keys.
Why is an inventory important?
The inventory is important because it acts as a key piece of evidence in any dispute that emerges further down the line about what damage the tenant has done to the property.
What is included in an inventory?
The inventory will include the property address and details of who has carried it out. It is unlikely to include any comments on the structural condition of the property. However, it will go into detail about the condition of any furniture provided and any equipment that you, as the landlord, have provided. For example, are there any scuffs on the carpet, marks on the walls or items missing? It is unlikely to cover any communal areas if the property is a flat.
Can I do the inventory myself?
You can do the inventory yourself but both parties – the landlord and the tenant – will need to sign the document to show they agree. However, if any dispute at the end of
the tenancy cannot be resolved and the dispute goes down a formal adjudication route, it is likely that an independent inventory will carry more weight. This is because it will be seen to be unbiased.
How much can I expect to pay?
It will depend on the size of your property and your location, but for example, you can expect to pay around £50 for an inventory on a two bedroom flat.
Will I need to sign it?
Yes, both parties will need to sign the document before the tenant moves in. You will then need to keep a copy so that you can refer to it in the future if a dispute arises.