Tenancy deposit disputes are messy and often frustrating for all involved. While the number of formal disputes remains low, the pandemic will have far reaching effects on all our finances and agents must prepare for increasing expectations in this area from both sides – landlords and tenants.
Disputes frequently arise from lack of knowledge or understanding about how this part of the tenancy process works.
While documentation is critical, it’s worth spending extra time with the tenant at the inventory stage of the process to prevent problems arising at the end of the tenancy.
Good inventory management protects both the landlord and the tenant and establishes what the tenant obligations are at both the start and end of the tenancy.
The deposit schemes will advise tenants to attend both the inventory and check-out appointment, but this is not always practical with these reports taking 1-2 hours and more on larger properties.
Tenants generally do not want to trail behind an inventory specialist, for this length of time. It is much easier, once the tenant has the report, to follow the structure which is clearly laid out and check the report is an accurate reflection of the property and its contents.
Detailed inventory and schedule of condition reports can run into 40+ pages, and whether conducting them in house or using an inventory specialist, neither are infallible – the tenant has a key role to play with the inventory, and will usually be allowed seven days to settle into the property and check through the inventory in detail.
Tip 1 – Educating tenants – a stitch in time…
The inventory and schedule of condition is a visual check of the property and not a maintenance report. If the scope of the inventory report is not understood, it can lead to delays in obtaining signatures – if, for example, the shower, boiler or hot water does not work properly, which is a maintenance issue.
Tenants must be aware it is their responsibility to check the inventory carefully, note any omissions and take pictures. Talking them through the process and explaining how the inventory protects them, is more effective than simply relying on T&Cs.
We have on occasion experienced irate tenants who have found a minor omission and believe it is a conspiracy to keep their deposit – so not a positive start for the agent or landlord.
Tip 2 – Check in the tenant – physical or digital
An accompanied check-in reaffirms the point above, and assists the tenant to understand the potential impact an inventory may have on the deposit.
Highlighting any issues within the property also makes them feel part of the process – and for these reasons, a check-in is highly recommended.
However, as minimising contact now takes precedence, use automation to capture areas of concern and obtain signatures within seven days.
Tip 3 – Terms and guidelines
Cleanliness is the main area of dispute, so take steps to head this one off at the start of the tenancy.
A good inventory will show the overall cleanliness of the property in addition to cleanliness room summaries using a glossary of terms contained at the start of the inventory document.
Cleanliness can be subjective, so it is advantageous to highlight where the glossary of terms is listed. Fair wear and tear does not apply to cleanliness, and so the property must be returned to the same standard, otherwise a deduction may apply.
Tip 4 – Not all cleaners are ‘professional’
Just because a professional cleaner has attended the property, it does not always mean the clean is to a ‘professional standard’ – if, for example, dust was present on skirting boards and shelves. In this situation, the term ‘good domestic standard’ may be used.
We are sometimes asked why it states this when a professional cleaner has conducted the clean. It is always advisable to get this right as it is generally the most contentious issue with tenants.
Tip 5 – Educate your landlords about fair wear and tear
It is vital to manage the landlords’ expectations. When a claim goes to adjudication and the breach is accepted, often the amount of the claim is reduced by the adjudicator, leading to a disappointed landlord.
This can occur for a few reasons, but the most common one is because fair wear and tear has not been factored into the claim. For example, if a carpet is three years old, the tenant is not responsible for those three years, so even if they have damaged the carpet, the claim has to factor quality, age, lifespan and condition.
A good check-out report will highlight if dilapidations are due to damage or fair wear and tear. See our landlord guide on fair wear and tear.
Tip 6 – Changes to the property – requesting permission
This is covered in most ASTs, but it is good practice to advise tenants to ask permission first.
Common deductions are attributed to damage or changes to walls from hanging pictures, adding additional hooks or shelves, painting walls and using blue tack.
It’s not unreasonable for tenants to make minor adjustments to their new home, but get them in the habit of asking first so you have the opportunity to remind them of their obligations.
Tip 7 – Outside maintenance – how does your garden grow…
Tenants often forget about the garden at check-out so they need to ensure it is left as they found it, otherwise they will face a gardening deduction.
Tip 8 – Videos are not the whole picture
Some agents use these as a quick alternative, but unless you are a professional cameraman, the video tends to go up and down and all around – not pleasant viewing for landlords or tenants!
Video evidence is acceptable by the deposit dispute schemes, but often does not capture quite enough detail, as its easier to miss items using this method– so if you go to dispute, you may end up disappointing your landlord.
No Letting Go
With No Letting Go’s inventory services, you’ll receive the peace of mind which comes with an impartial, fully documented check in and check out procedure. Our service is reliable and consistent producing reports which stand up to scrutiny during any dispute.
A thorough inventory report will provide evidence of the property and its contents at the start of the tenancy and at the end to help landlords and agents cover the cost of any damage made on the premises by the tenant.
Discover our property inventory services today.
As a landlord or letting agent, what do you do if your tenant disappears? Tenant abandonments can cause a lot of hassle and complications for those managing the property, so if it happens to you, it’s best to be prepared.
If a tenant is expected of abandoning, the landlord or letting agent will need to place a notice of abandonment at the rental property. We explain what this means, the responsibilities involved and how we can help with our abandonment notice service.
Tenant Abandonment: The Facts
Tenant abandonment is the term given for when a tenant leaves your property before the end of the tenancy agreement without notifying you (the landlord or letting agent).
In the case of abandonment, whoever is managing the property needs to ensure the tenant has permanently vacated the property before they can rent it out again.
Rent will still be owed until the end of the tenancy or until the property is let out again.
Issues for Landlords
If your tenant abandons the rental property, this can cause several problems;
- Loss of rental income
- Risk of vandalism and lack of security at the abandoned property
- Abandoned properties can result in higher insurance premiums
- If tenants leave possessions behind, these become the responsibility of the landlord to safeguard
What is an Abandonment Notice?
If you believe your tenant has left the property before the end of the tenancy, you need to place an abandonment notice.
An abandonment notice is a written statement that must be displayed in a prominent, accessible position on the property informing the tenant that the locks have been changed and where to find a replacement key if they wish to return.
It should give the tenant a limited time to get in contact and request a new set of keys.
By completing an abandonment notice, you are protecting yourself from being accused of unlawfully evicting the tenant.
What is Considered Property Abandonment?
Tenants are obligated to inform their letting agent or landlord if they plan to leave their rented property for more than two weeks. The tenancy agreement should include this clause as a form of protection for residential landlords.
Landlords and property professionals need to act cautiously, as under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, the tenant is entitled to return to the property within the tenancy period. If the tenant decides to return and the property has been let to someone else, this could constitute a criminal offence on the part of the landlord.
Without obtaining a lengthy and expensive court possession order, the tenant is still legally the occupant- even if they are in rent arrears.
This means you need to be certain that the tenant has permanently vacated and surrendered the property before re-letting or entering the property.
Landlord and Letting Agent Responsibilities
In order to ensure you are not making an unlawful eviction, if your tenant appears to abandon the property there are steps that must be taken;
Before letting the property to someone else or changing the locks you must first ensure the tenant has surrendered the property.
Firstly, try to contact the tenant to establish whether they are surrendering the tenancy. If you can get written confirmation from the tenant and they return the keys, you are safe to go ahead and re-let the property.
If you cannot get a hold of the tenant check if;
- The tenant has stopped paying rent
- The tenant has removed their belonging
- The tenant has left the keys at the property
- The neighbours have seen the tenant at the property
Housing and Planning Act 2016: Abandonment
If you can ensure that your property has been abandoned, and your tenant is in rent arrears you are now able to take back possession of your property under the Housing and planning Act 2016.
In this case, you can place a written warning at the property requesting rent repayments. If the first warning is ignored, a second warning notice is required. If the tenant still fails to respond, a third and final notice must be displayed. If this is also ignored, the landlord can take repossession of the property.
Can I Enter an Abandoned Property?
If you believe your tenant has abandoned, you can only enter the property if;
- It is in a vulnerable state and you need to secure the property by changing the locks
- There is any danger to neighbours (e.g. regarding the electric or gas supply)
There is damage that needs urgent repair
That’s where we come in. Our clerks can act as independent witnesses and help with the abandonment notice process, informing the tenant the locks have been changed.
What Should an Abandonment Notice Include?
There are certain elements an abandonment notice should include;
- Written notice that you believe the tenant has abandoned the property. Don’t forget to include important dates such as how long the property has been empty
- The full name, address and contact details of both the landlord and tenant
- A section asking anyone who knows the tenant’s current location to contact the landlord or property manager
- An agreed date by which the tenancy will be assumed abandoned or surrendered by the tenant (if the tenant fails to make contact by this date)
- A section recommending the tenant seeks legal advice
- The name of the independent witness
No Letting Go’s Abandonment Notice Service
In the event that either a landlord or letting agent places an Abandonment Notice up at a property, it is vital that someone attends the property on a regular basis (ideally every 3-4 days) to ensure the notice is still in place. We offer an abandonment notice service whereby we will visit the property as instructed to ensure the notice has not been removed or displaced and to report on the security of the property.
No Letting Go are dedicated to providing professional and unbiased property inventory services from the start of tenancy to the end. From appraisals and right to rent checks, to property inspections and maintenance reports – we’re here to help you protect your investment.
Discover how we could help by browsing our full list of property inventory services.
Is your tenant coming to the end of their tenancy agreement? If so, you might want to start thinking about providing them with some essential information regarding their check-out process.
Investing in a professional pre-check out service can benefit both landlord and tenant. From ensuring smoother transitions, to minimising the amount of maintenance needed, we explain how opting for a pre-check out service can save property professionals time and money.
Check Out Procedure for Rental Property
Before we look at the process in more detail, here’s a quick overview of standard check-out procedure for a private rental agreement;
- Notify tenants of their responsibilities at least 2 weeks prior to the end of the tenancy
- Provide pre-check out service
- Tenants return property to original condition
- Provide check-out visit on the last day of the tenancy
- Provide check-out report
- Tenant accepts/challenges report
- Deposit return is negotiated
- Deposit is released
Let’s take a closer look…
What is A Pre-Check Out Service?
The purpose of a pre-check out service is to ensure that your tenant is fully aware that the property must be returned to its original condition as it was found on move-in day.
This service consists of a visit, in which property clerks grade each room of the property and specific items within it with actions ranging from ‘No action required’ to ‘Replacement required’. The original inventory report provides evidence of the state of the property at check-in.
This service provides tenants with a realistic view of the tasks required in order to return the property to an acceptable state and have their deposit returned in full.
Benefits for Tenants
By having all the information and guidance they need at their fingertips, a pre-check out visit arms tenants with the tools to ensure their full deposit is returned.
Often, property professionals find that tenants are unaware of certain tasks that need completing before the end of the tenancy, for example, cutting the grass or maintaining any out buildings.
This information should be accessible in the official tenancy agreement document, however not all tenants remember to read it thoroughly at the end of a tenancy.
Tenant Check Out Responsibilities
Examples of the tasks and responsibilities that could be recommended at the pre-check out include;
- Replace any furniture or furnishings that have been considerably damaged or stained beyond normal wear and tear
- Cut the grass and trim back foliage in outdoor spaces
- Thorough cleaning throughout
- Defrost freezers
- Replace old light bulbs
- Remove all food and personal items from the property
- Replace any items that were present at check-in
- Ensure furniture is in the same position as at check-in
Once these tasks have been completed, tenants are much more likely to have their full deposit returned to them, minimising time-consuming disputes.
Benefits for Landlords, Letting Agents & Property Professionals
Some of the benefits of providing your tenants with a pre-check out service include;
- It makes the transition between tenants quicker and smoother
- It minimises the amount of property maintenance needed between tenancies
- It helps maintain a positive relationship between letting agent/landlord and tenant
- It saves time and money
To sum up, pre-check outs can be very valuable for time poor landlords and property professionals seeking a quick turnaround and minimal maintenance work.
When Is the Best Time to Provide A Pre-Check Out?
We usually recommend supplying your tenant with a pre-check out visit at least two weeks before the official end of the tenancy. This gives them some time to make necessary repairs or replacements before they move out.
Inventory Check Out: Who Pays?
Since the Tenant Fees Act came into play on the 1st June 2019, landlords and letting agents are no longer permitted to charge tenants fees for inventory services.
However, don’t let this change put you off investing in professional inventory and pre-check out services as they could save you a significant amount of time and money in the long run!
Next Steps…Check Out Inventory Report
Once check-out day arrives, either the landlord or the letting agent managing the property will visit the rental in order to complete the check-out process. Everything in the property will be cross-referenced with the original check-in inventory to create the report.
Here at No Letting Go, we use Kaptur property software to record any changes from the start to the end of the tenancy. Covering everything from cleanliness and damage to missing items and fair wear and tear advice- our detailed reports help property professionals stay on top of any maintenance needed.
Do I Need an Inventory Report?
Yes! All successful end of tenancies start with a detailed inventory report. Our property clerks use the original inventory report made at the start of the tenancy to grade the property and advise on what tasks need completing.
A thorough inventory report includes detailed images of each area of the property to ensure everything is returned as it was found. The inventory report also provides valuable evidence if you need to recover costs at the end of the tenancy. For example, if your tenant leaves the property in a damaged state beyond the level of fair wear and tear, the inventory report can help to demonstrate the changes from the start to the end of the term.
Looking for help managing your property portfolio? Our property inventory services provide a clear, unbiased picture, helping you to recover costs and protect your investment.
We also offer;
- Check-in services
- DigiSign automated check-in
- Health & safety checks
- Property inspections
- Check out reports
- Maintenance reports
Discover our full range of property inventory services for landlords and property businesses.
Finding a reliable removal company can be a challenge, and tenants often turn to their landlord or letting agent for advice at the end of a tenancy.
Providing quality recommendations for trusted tradespeople and services builds trust with tenants and means they’re more likely to pass on your details to friends and family.
In order to provide your tenants with reputable removals services, we explore what to look for when searching for a removal company and the benefits of using this service.
Do I Need a Removals Company?
If your tenant asks this question at the end of a tenancy, the answer is usually yes. Most people gather lots of belongings, even over the space of a year. When packing and transporting expensive items of furniture and fragile items, it can pay to leave it to the professionals.
Unless the property is very small, they are renting one room or rent a fully furnished property, it’s likely a professional removal service will be beneficial.
A professional removal service offers tenants;
- Time saving
- Safer packing and transportation of fragile items
- More van space
A professional removal service is even more important for families with lots of belongings and older tenants who may struggle to pack up their home.
How Do I Choose a Removal Company?
We’ve broken down finding the right removal company into a few simple steps;
The first consideration is location. Removal companies based locally to your rental properties are likely to be cheaper than those that have further to travel.
These companies could become part of a portfolio of recommended tradespeople and services you can offer to your tenants.
One of the first places to go for local removal companies is a comparison site. Here, you will find a list of trusted traders and you will be able to filter your search results to find relevant companies more quickly.
Searching by price point, location and reviews can help narrow down your search.
The next step once you have found a few possible candidates is to check removal quotes. Most tenants will be searching for the most affordable option, so if you can recommend a reasonable company they should be happy customers.
Try to get at least three different quotes for the same move, with each cost broken down into insurance, packing, hourly rate, mileage and storage.
We’ve all heard disaster stories of rogue movers damaging expensive furniture or losing sentimental items, and tenants won’t be happy if your recommendation goes wrong.
Once you have narrowed down the search further, it’s time to check the customer reviews. Sometimes, companies are cheap for a reason, and you should be able to weed out any unreliable movers from the reviews online.
How do I Find a Reputable Moving Company?
We’ve got some top tips on how to spot a quality removal company you can rely on;
Ask for Recommendations
Word of mouth can be a powerful tool for finding reliable tradespeople and services.
Have any of your friends or family moved home recently? They may have their own recommendations to offer. It’s also worth checking which removal companies local letting agents recommend.
Have They Been Regulated?
An easy way to determine whether a removal firm is trustworthy, is to check whether they are a member of any regulatory boards or associations.
Check if the company is a member of The British Association of Removers (BAR), a regulatory body which ensures professional excellence. With lists of residential and commercial movers, all companies listed have been tested to industry standards.
Questions to Ask the Movers
Before you recommend a removal company to your tenant, ask these questions first;
- How long has the company been operating?
- Do you offer pre move surveys?
- Do you offer storage facilities?
- Do your quotes include insurance?
- Is a packing service included?
- Is parking on moving day included?
- What is your delay policy?
- Do you ask for any additional removal costs?
Having all the important information to hand is of great use for busy tenants and will make a great impression long term.
How Much Notice Do Removal Companies Need?
The process of getting an initial quote for moving house, the subsequent survey, finding an available date and getting all of the documents in order can take several weeks. It’s a good idea to remind tenants of this as it comes nearer to the end of their tenancy so they can be fully prepared on moving day.
What is the Average Cost of Removals?
The cost of using a professional removals company is dependent on several factors;
- The number and size of the items being transported
- The distance between properties
- Size of the removals team on the day
- Whether it includes packing and packing materials
The Movers and Storers Show
Another way to find reputable moving companies is to attend an industry event such as the Movers and Storers Show.
This year, the show is taking place in Coventry, 19th-20th November and is a convenient place to find trusted partners.
The Importance of Trusted Property Partners
Reputation is important in the lettings industry. If a tenant has a positive moving experience thanks to your recommendation, they are more likely to consider your services in the future and give positive recommendations to friends and family.
That goes for all services you use to manage the rental properties in your portfolio.
Here at No Letting Go, we offer a range of professional services to help landlords and letting agents manage their portfolios and stay on top of their responsibilities.
From property inventory to property visits, our services are designed to protect your investment for the long term.
Browse our full list of property inventory services here to find out how we can help.
What if your tenant moves out without paying their utility bills or council tax? Does it fall on you as the landlord to pick up the pieces?
This is a common question among both landlords and tenants, and it needs clearing up. So, who is responsible for unpaid utility bills? Let’s find out.
Are Landlords Responsible For Unpaid Utility Bills?
Not usually. As long as it is the tenant’s name on the bill, and it is stated in the tenancy agreement that tenants are responsible for utilities, landlords are not liable for unpaid bills left over by tenants.
However, as a landlord, there are some steps you will need to take to protect yourself if you find yourself in this tricky situation;
- Always tell the local council when a new tenant moves in. You will need to provide the names of the new tenants and the contact details of the previous tenants so they can get in touch if needs be.
- Inform the energy suppliers of the property of any change in tenancy (this includes gas, electricity and water)
- Encourage new tenants to change the name on the utility bills as soon as possible.
- Make a note of the meter readings at the start and end of each tenancy so you have a record for the utility companies.
- Ensure your tenancy agreement clearly states that utility payments are the responsibility of the tenant.
- Keep a signed copy of the tenancy agreement in a safe, easily accessible place.
What Bills Are Tenants Responsible For?
This depends on the tenancy agreement you have in place.
Commonly, tenants are responsible for the following bills;
- Council tax
However, this is not always the case. Let’s look at two different situations;
Utilities Registered In The Tenant’s Name
When bills are registered in the tenant’s name, the tenant is responsible for paying them from the date they move into the property. However, they are not responsible for any debts left behind from previous tenants. It’s important for tenants to check the meter readings on move-in day so they can supply their energy providers with the correct readings at the start of their tenancy.
In this case, landlords are not required to pay any remaining payments after their tenant has left. The utility companies will have to chase the tenant themselves, meaning the issue is out of your hands.
Utilities Registered In The Landlord’s Name
You can choose to register bills in the landlord’s name and ask the tenant to pay you for their usage. This can be helpful for short lets, or if you rent out a room in your own house. However, if the tenant leaves without paying, you may be responsible for paying the outstanding sum.
To avoid this situation, always follow the steps outlines above.
End Of Tenancy Utility Bills
To end a contract, most utility suppliers require a few days notice before the end of a tenancy. As long as the bills are in the tenant’s name, this is entirely their responsibility to organise.
If there is outstanding debt left over and…
- The utilities are in the landlord’s name
- Or the tenant failed to register for utilities whilst living at the property
You may be able to prove the tenants were living at the property if you supply a copy of the tenancy agreement. However, this will depend on the individual policies of the utility companies.
Who Is Responsible For Bills During Void Periods?
If your property is empty for any period of time, the owner of the property is responsible for utility payments.
This is why it’s best to keep energy usage to a minimum in between tenants. However, during the winter, we recommend keeping the heat consistent to protect against mould and damp and avoid further maintenance costs in the long run.
If your property is left vacant for an extended period, you will need to organise regular vacant property inspections to check for leaks or mould.
Who Is Responsible For Utilities In Multiple Occupancy Properties?
If there are several tenants living at a property, disputes can often arise regarding bills. The main thing to remember is that whoever’s name is on the bill is ultimately responsible.
This means, if all tenants in a house share or HMO rental property have their name registered to a utility bill, they are all equally liable to repay debts, even if it’s only one tenant who hasn’t paid.
Property Management Help From No Letting Go
One of the simplest ways to avoid disputes and protect your investment at the end of a tenancy is to have all of your property reports in one easily accessible place.
All of our check in reports come with utility checks and meter readings included to help landlords and property professionals keep on top of their responsibilities.
Keen to learn more about how our flexible reporting could help? Find our full list of property inventory services here.
Ending a tenancy can be awkward for both tenants and property professionals. Dealing with tenancy deposit returns, outstanding rent and resolving disputes can take time and a lot of effort. So, how can tenants and landlords alike ensure the end of tenancy goes smoothly?
No Letting Go’s chief operations officer, Lisa Williamson recently joined Richard Blanco on his podcast ‘Inside Property’ to discuss the types of issues that can arise and how to resolve them through unbiased, end of tenancy services.
Lisa was joined by Suzy Hershman, head of dispute resolution at My Deposits, and Al McClenahan, the director of Justice4Tenants to get a full picture from all sides of the story.
Here is a roundup of the key insights that came out of the programme;
Start as You Mean to End
Lisa’s top tip on ending a tenancy well is to determine a clear position from the start. The way to do this is through a well thought out inventory including detailed but concise information, clear photographs and a comprehensive list of contents and condition.
Creating a tenancy format which is easy to read by both parties is essential for avoiding confusion at the end of the tenancy.
Another tip for landlords from Lisa is to ensure that tenants sign the inventory report to avoid deduction disputes during check out.
An Unbiased Outlook is Key
One question that arose in the podcast was whether landlords should create their own inventory reports.
While it’s completely fair for a landlord to perform their own survey, they run the risk of using emotional language which can be interpreted in different ways.
This is where an independent inventory service can resolve issues. No Letting Go inventory reports include a glossary of terms to determine the condition and cleanliness of items in the property. For example, rather than a landlord using the word ‘immaculate’ to describe a piece of furniture which could come across as biased or open to interpretation, instead ‘professionally clean’ is a clearly explained term in the NLG glossary.
Another benefit of using a professional, unbiased property inventory service is that in the case of a dispute over deposit returns, judicators can clearly understand the benchmarks.
Are Pre-Check Out Meetings A Good Idea?
As an active landlord himself, Richard highlighted the benefit of arranging pre-check out meetings with tenants to go over what is expected of them during the moving out process.
This all sounds well and good, but the question is, who will pay for it? Landlords and tenants may be reluctant to fork out this extra cost, but it could save money further down the line.
Alternatively, providing tenants with an end of tenancy letter detailing all the tasks that need to be completed before moving out is a great way to prevent confusion over where responsibilities lie. This can include the date and time of the key handover and what needs to be cleaned.
End of Tenancy Property Cleaning
As the head of dispute resolution at My Deposit, Suzie Hershman has a lot of experience dealing with the common issues affecting landlords and tenants during the checkout process.
According to Suzie, cleaning comes top of the list when it comes to end of tenancy disputes.
The resolution is simple. Start with an inventory report which plainly states the condition of the property and how it is expected to be maintained. For example, if the property has a garden, the inventory needs to clearly state that the grass needs to be cut or the paving de-weeded and power washed before leaving the property.
Other issues that can arise include whose responsibility it is for window cleaning and whether professional carpet cleaning needs to be undertaken.
The main rule of thumb for tenants, is that the property needs to be returned in the original state as at the start of the tenancy. This may involve hiring an end of tenancy cleaning service (make sure you keep the receipt as evidence) or giving the property a thorough clean yourself. Either way, ensure you leave on the last day of your tenancy confident everything looks the same as it did when you moved in!
Fair wear and tear can be a bit of a grey area when it comes to cleaning. Suzie recommends that landlords should think of the items in their property as having a lifespan. A carpet or decor has an average lifespan of 5 years, which needs to be taken into consideration during the checkout report.
Managing the Landlord-Tenant Relationship
Al attributed this to poor inventories which leave too much room for interpretation and miscommunication, which is more common when landlords create their own.
Another common reason for strained relationships is when tenants are in arrears at the end of the tenancy agreement. To minimise conflict, Al recommends that tenants are as open and communicative with their landlord about their financial difficulties to help landlords remain understanding until the issue can be resolved.
However, when landlords view their role purely from an investment perspective and ignore the human side of the relationship, this is when disputes are likely to arise. The lesson? Landlords who are more understanding and willing to negotiate are likely to have better relationships with their tenants, resulting in a smoother parting.
How Will the Letting Agency Fee Ban Effect End of Tenancy?
There has been much discussion over what changes the letting agency fee ban will bring to the industry. However, for now, Lisa doesn’t see much change to the way check out reports will be processed.
Currently, landlords usually pay for the inventory, and for either check-in or check-out services while the tenant pays for the other. This means there is only one cost that needs to be recuperated by landlords.
According to Lisa, most landlords and tenants can see the advantages of having these services managed by independent professionals.
Unbiased End of Tenancy Services from No Letting Go
To ensure the end of a tenancy goes as smoothly as possible and you retain a positive relationship throughout, using an independent property service can help resolve issues and disputes before they arise.
No Letting Go provides all the documentation needed at the start and end of a tenancy to determine how much money is deducted from the deposit. Using the latest technology, No Letting Go can advise against fair wear and tear and create reports to ensure you are fully compliant with regulations.
To see the full list of services on offer, head to the No Letting Go services page.
The subject of lodger deposits has always been one of a great many grey areas for both landlords and tenants.
Given the fact that every penny of the deposit money technically belongs to the tenant or lodger, and that deposit disputes can take time and money, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure both sides fully understand their rights and obligations.
From carrying out a comprehensive check-in inventory at move in, to knowing your rights as a landlord, letting agent or lodger – we explore how to negotiate the return of the lodger deposit.
What is the Difference Between a Lodger and a Tenant?
The difference between a lodger and a tenant is:
- A tenant pays rent and lives in a property you own but do not live in
- A lodger lives in the same property as you and pays rent
Negotiating the return of a deposit if you are a lodger, living in student halls or living at the same property as your landlord is a slightly different process to that of the standard rental property tenant.
The most important difference in regard to rights, is that landlords and letting agents are not required to place a lodger deposit into a deposit protection scheme.
In comparison, lodger agreements are called licenses rather than tenancy agreements and landlords are legally permitted to give a reasonable notice period anywhere from 14 days to 28 days. The time period should be set out in the original license and agreed upon by both landlord and lodger.
How Much Is A Deposit?
A standard lodger’s deposit tends to be one month’s rent. However, this isn’t fixed and some landlords and letting agents demand up to 6 weeks.
Negotiating the Return of a Lodger Deposit: First Steps
When the time comes to begin negotiating the return of a deposit, the first step is for the lodger to request the return in writing. Lodgers should write directly to the landlord and ask them to return the deposit, being sure to keep copies of all correspondence in both directions. You may be required to produce evidence of such requests at a later time, so it’s a good idea to hold onto them.
The best time to return the deposit to a former lodger is after they have moved out with their possessions and you have checked the room thoroughly for any damage.
Lodger Deposit Protection
What’s different about this particular scenario is the way in which lodgers are not considered short-hold tenants, which means the landlord is not under any legal requirement to protect deposits using an appropriate tenancy deposit scheme. This doesn’t necessarily affect lodger’s actual rights when it comes to the deposit in general but can affect the negotiation and deposit return processes.
Establish a Deadline
Most professional landlord inventory services in the UK agree that problems generally occur when lodgers are not direct and/or demanding enough when it comes to requesting what is rightfully theirs. If the deposit should have been returned but has not, the best course of action is to begin with a written request for its immediate return with a specified deadline – something like two weeks.
Lodgers can also take the opportunity to ask in the letter why the deposit has not yet been refunded, along with whether or not they can expect any deductions to be made and the respective reasons.
If unsure how to go about this, there are plenty of useful templates available online.
Lodger Deposit Disputes and Deductions
As a lodger landlord, you are required to clearly list and explain any deductions to be taken from the deposit. If you fully agree with your lodger that the deductions are fair, you can confirm your agreement and arrange for the remaining deposit to be refunded.
If deductions are made, though no breakdown or explanation is provided, lodgers can request that this is done urgently. And if there are any deductions you do not agree with, you may need to dispute the deposit.
What are Reasonable Deductions?
Landlords and letting agents can deduct money from the lodger’s deposit if the lodger has any outstanding rent or if they have caused any damage to their rented living space. Damage above the level of fair wear and tear could include damage or stains on furniture or furnishings or missing items from the inventory.
Lodger Agreement Deposit Return: Court Action
From time to time, disputes cannot be resolved through talking alone and you may find that your lodger takes court action. Lodgers can also claim online through the Courts & Tribunals Service.
For a claim to be successful, it will need plenty of documented evidence of attempts to recover the deposit manually, as well as evidence in regard to the condition of the rented space at check-out.
Landlords do have the option of making an offer before the case proceeds any further.
Don’t Skip the Inventory Report
One way to ensure the return of the lodger deposit goes smoothly, without resorting to the courts is to have a detailed inventory report in place.
- Provide evidence of the condition of the room or property at the start and end of the lodging period
- Provide evidence of the condition of furniture and furnishings
- Provide lodgers with check-out information to minimise disputes
If you’re a resident landlord or a letting agent looking to take the stress out of the inventory process, find out how No Letting Go can help with our wide range of property inventory services.