London Landlord Deposit Disputes Highest In the UK
When it comes to the end of a tenancy and the return of the tenant deposit, there are plenty of things that can go wrong, wherever your property is based.
However, according to a recent report, London landlord deposit disputes appear to be the highest in the UK.
This blog delves deeper into the reasons behind landlord/tenant disputes in London and what can be done to avoid these disagreements altogether.
London Deposit Disputes
According to Property Wire, London is home to the highest cases of rental disputes between landlords and tenants.
This data comes from Ome, a deposit replacement membership scheme, who found that a sizable 37% of all rental disagreement cases last year came from the UK’s capital. London was followed by the South East with 16% of cases and the North West coming in at 11%.
Why London? It could be partly due to the fact that rental prices are far higher, demanding hefty deposits. The greater the sum being argued over, the more likely both parties will want a return on their investment.
Common Causes of Deposit Disputes
The data showed that the number one reason for deposit disputes across the majority of the UK, including London, was poor communication. Whereas, in the South East, the most common cause was cleanliness at check out.
Other common reasons for disputes include;
- Damage to property
- Missed payments
- Inventory discrepancies
Landlord Deposit Dispute: Wear and Tear
What constitutes fair wear and tear is an issue that often occurs at the end of the tenancy, as the definition can vary from person to person. Our guide on fair wear and tear sets out what is considered to be normal and unavoidable wear and tear and how to help tenants prevent further damage.
Landlord Deposit Dispute: Cleaning
Cleanliness at check-out was another common issue when it came to rental deposit disputes last year. This can be avoided through regular property inspections and investing in a pre-check out service.
How to Avoid Deposit Disputes
If you’re a landlord or letting agent in London, minimising the chance of disputes will most likely save you time and money in the long term (not to mention stress!)
Here are some of the ways you can avoid a dispute in the first place;
Tenancy Deposit Protection
Ensure the deposit is protected in a tenancy deposit scheme as this is a legal requirement. Failure to do so could lead to your tenant demanding a full return of their deposit or more.
Tenancy Deposit Return Time Limit
At the end of a tenancy, landlords must return the deposit within 10 days after any deposit deductions have been agreed.
Invest in a Professional Inventory Service
One of the most important steps you can take to avoid deposit disputes is by starting the tenancy right with a thorough and professional inventory.
A professional inventory report will set out the condition of the property and its contents at check-in, highlighting any changes at the end of the tenancy. This vital document provides evidence to support you if you need to deduct from the deposit. For example, if there is damage to the property or furnishings beyond normal wear and tear or if there are items missing from the final inventory.
An inventory report signed by the tenant is your best protection if your tenant decides to raise a dispute over deposit deductions. Without it, you are very unlikely to recover the funds for maintenance and repair.
Consider a Pre-Check Out Service
Another way to avoid a dispute is to provide tenants with a pre-check out service at the end of their tenancy. As part of this service, a property clerk will visit the property and provide advice to tenants on what maintenance needs to be undertaken in order to have their full deposit returned.
The benefits of a pre-check out service include smoother transitions between tenants, less maintenance needed and therefore less chance of deposit disputes.
Regular Property Inspections
Organising regular property inspections to your rental helps to minimise the chance of disputes as experienced clerks can check that the property is being properly maintained by tenants and reduce the chance of damage at check-out.
It may sound obvious, but this is a common problem amongst landlords / letting agents and tenants, particularly in London. A breakdown in communication or negative feedback can lead to a lack of trust and a greater chance of deposit disputes when you reach the end of the tenancy agreement.
To avoid this, it’s best to give a positive first impression to tenants and maintain regular and honest lines of communication.
Landlord Deposit Dispute Advice
If issues can’t be solved through direct and honest communications, it may be worth seeking the advice of a dispute resolution service to resolve the issue. An impartial adjudicator will be able to assess the dispute and hopefully come to an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.
If it comes to this, having a detailed inventory report is vital. At No Letting Go, we provide professional inventory reports to landlords, letting agents and property businesses throughout the UK. With expert local branches around the country and the latest property technology at our disposal, we’re experienced at helping property professionals protect their investment.
Find your local London property inventory service here.
Don’t let a deposit dispute affect your business, explore our property inventory service today.
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 professional pre-tenancy checks 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.
Pre-Tenancy 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 pre-tenancy checks 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.
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.
Ever had your investment abused by careless tenants? Whether it’s damage to the property or a general disrespect, it’s a horrible feeling. You feel cheated by the people you trusted.
Deposits and tenant referencing companies are great ways of combating bad tenants, but there’s another step you should be taking. Regular landlord inspections are vital for ensuring your tenant is actually maintaining your property as agreed in the tenancy agreement.
Many landlords avoid checking their investment purely because there are clear regulations to follow. Don’t be one of those landlords! Here’s what you need to know about property inspections.
Why You Should Carry Out a Rental House Inspection
Not convinced about the need to inspect your property? Here are a few advantages of inspections:
- You can assess how your tenant treats the property
- You can check on any maintenance issues that need your attention, such as health and safety requirements
- You boost your reputation as a landlord and become more approachable
- You can create an open pathway of communication with your tenants
- You can take a look at the living conditions of your tenant
- You can keep an eye out for any illegal activities
- You can check that you’re still offering a safe and legal letting to the tenant
- You may not have a duty of care to neighbours, but it may avoid disputes to check in with them. They may be able to tell you information about how your tenants are behaving that you might otherwise miss
Can a Landlord Enter Without Permission?
When it comes to entering the property, there are rules.
You can’t just turn up and inspect the condition of the property. The landlord or agent doesn’t necessarily need permission before entering. However, there are laws you need to follow when it comes to regular inspections.
Legally, there are three main rights of entry:
The Right of Reasonable Access
As a landlord, you need to be aware of your Landlord access rights. ‘Reasonable access’ sounds like a very general term but it is simply defined. This ultimately refers to the need to access the property immediately to carry out emergency/necessary repairs.
The Right to Enter to Inspect the State of Repair of the Property
As owner of the property you can also enter to inspect the ‘state of repair’. For inspections, you aren’t granted immediate access.
You must also carry out all inspections at reasonable times of day. If someone other than yourself (or a previously agreed agent) is inspecting the property, you must give notice of inspection in writing.
The Right to Enter to Provide Room Cleaning Services
If you offer room-cleaning services to your tenant and this is stated clearly in the contract, you can access the property without permission. This is a relatively uncommon situation.
Can a Landlord Enter the Property Without the Tenant Present?
If the reason for access is one of the ones mentioned above, such as an emergency, the tenant does not need to be present during inspection.
However, tenants should still be informed. This is their home also, so it’s a good idea to let them know if you’ve entered, and for what reason.
A landlord entering the property without permission or reason is against the law.
How Much Notice Does a Landlord Have to Give?
Usually, you must provide at least 24 hours notice before entry. This can differ in an emergency.
Landlord Right of Entry – Try Not to Scare the Tenant
Inspections can be scary for your tenants, as they’re obligated to look after your property. As soon as you notify them of your intention to check your property, they’ll begin to sweat. Be as casual and relaxed about it as you can. Explain there’s no reason for them to be worried, it’s just a mandatory walk through.
If you’re able to, give your tenant more than the required 24 hours’ notice – a week is usually best. This gives them time to present the rental in a clean and tidy state. Be flexible about the time of your visit and offer to rearrange if it isn’t convenient.
Landlord House Inspection Checklist
So, what should you be looking for?
There are plenty of issues you might come across, some more serious than others. Your inspection can be as thorough or casual as you’d like. Having said this, keep your eyes peeled for these common problems:
- Damage beyond wear and tear (broken windows, stained carpets, etc.)
- Damp and mould
- Condition of furniture and white goods
- Excessive rubbish
- Poorly maintained garden
- Faulty smoke alarms/carbon monoxide detectors
- State of the loft/attic
- Signs or rodents/infestations
Periodic Inspection Report
It’s recommended to carry out a house inspection every 3 months or less. This depends on the length of the tenancy.
To help you monitor your property effectively and keep track of any recurring issues, you may want to fill out a house inspection form of some kind.
This can be particularly useful if you spot a problem on a particular visit, and find it has not been corrected next time. With all the obligations landlords have, having a record can help you stay informed about the condition of your rental property.
Can Tenants Refuse Access to a Property?
If you turn up unannounced, for example without written notice, the tenant can refuse to grant entry.
To avoid this, give plenty of warning.
What Happens If the Tenant Refuses Entry?
If a tenant refuses to grant permission for entry, you can’t go ahead without their blessing. As a landlord, you have to respect the tenant’s privacy. This can create a difficult situation where a harmonious relationship between landlord and tenant can be jeopardised.
Tenants only tend to refuse entry if they’re hiding something unsavoury from you. Unfortunately, you can’t take the issue any further.
How to End the House Inspection
Communication is key here. If there are issues you’re not happy with, explain why and discuss whose responsibility it is. If you’re coming back to complete any repairs, give full details of when this will be. Don’t forget to ask your tenant whether they know of any issues or damages that require your attention. Ultimately, thank them for their time – remember, they weren’t obliged to let you in.
How Can an Inventory for a Rental Property Help?
Want to lower the possibility of deposit disputes and damage to your investment? No Letting Go will manage the entire inventory process in a professional and open manner. This includes check ins and check outs. We’ll help you comply with your obligations, while improving the lives of tenants. Find out more about our inventory services here.
It’s time to talk deposits…
These are a source of protection for landlords, ensuring they have a safety net should anything happen to their property.
But, this doesn’t mean they’re without their own complications!
Deposit disputes are common. If a landlord withholds money for any reason, this is an obvious conflict of interest between both parties.
Let’s ensure that doesn’t happen. Here are some important landlord deposit rules to remember.
The Government Approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme
These ensure a deposit is protected, and that tenants receive the full amount back if they meet the terms of their tenancy agreement and maintain the property as agreed.
TDS disputes are very uncommon, as the deposit is looked after by an unbiased, regulated third party.
Some landlords can be confused by these schemes, as in England and Wales there are two options. So, let’s straighten it out:
The Insured Scheme is where the landlord or letting agent keeps hold of the deposit throughout the tenancy, while paying a fee to the TDS.
This fee operates on a ‘pay as you go’ basis, meaning you don’t pay after the tenancy has finished!
With the Custodial Scheme, the landlord or letting agent doesn’t have to pay a fee, as the TDS looks after the deposit.
The TDS will then release the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
Both tenancy deposit protection schemes have their benefits, so it’s important to work out what works for you.
When are Tenancy Deposit Deductions Allowed?
There’s no hard and fast rule when tenants ask, ‘what can my landlord deduct from my deposit?’ as this varies depending on the individual circumstance.
However, there are some common reasons why deposits aren’t returned.
Reasons for these deductions must be stipulated in the tenancy agreement, for example cleaning deposits. If you require the property to be returned in a certain way, for example the carpets cleaned, ensure this is clearly communicated.
After the tenant leaves, landlords are allowed to make deposit deductions for the following reasons:
There are numerous reasons why tenants may not be able to afford rent.
However, while some circumstances are out of their control, missed or withheld rent is a justifiable reason not to pay back some, or all, of their deposit.
Many landlords prefer to deduct money from the deposit rather than serve their tenant with a Section 21 eviction notice.
If your tenant owes more than the deposit amount, you can take legal action, and a court can order them to pay the full amount back. This will incur it’s own legal fees, so you’ll need to work out if it makes sense financially.
Serious Damage to the Property
Whether it’s to the property itself, such as smashed windows, or broken furniture, damaging the property contradicts the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Therefore, landlords are allowed to deduct the appropriate amount from the deposit.
Recklessness is something you can take seriously!
However, it’s important to remember that this mustn’t count as fair wear and tear.
Lost or Broken Items
One main reason for landlords not returning deposits is missing items. The cost of these can be deducted at the end of the tenancy!
The inventory will have set out what items were included with the property, and their condition. So, in the interest of reassurance for the landlord, a detailed inventory is essential.
In the world of tenancy deposit disputes, cleaning can be a huge source of disagreement between landlords and tenants, largely because we all have different definitions of what is ‘clean’.
However, it’s a common cause of deposit deductions. For example, if it was negotiated in the tenancy agreement that the tenant would pay for a professional carpet clean after keeping pets in the property, they must uphold this.
If they fail to do so, landlords can pay for the cost of the clean from the deposit. For a landlord, cleaning is the tenant’s responsibility!
General maintenance can be difficult because it’s a vague term.
But, misuse can result in a deposit deduction. For example, if any appliances have been deliberately neglected, the landlord will have to pay to repair these before the start of the next tenancy.
Damage Caused By Pets
Landlords and pets have a strained relationship. However, with half the UK’s population owning a pet, and nearly 1 in 5 of us renting our home, landlords have had to make compromises.
Before the tenancy starts, those with pets often agree to pay a higher deposit or the cost of a professional clean. But, this doesn’t make any damage caused by pets acceptable!
Many tenants find it difficult to understand why their landlord has kept their deposit. But, when you consider the cost of repairing damage, it doesn’t seem so unreasonable.
If a tenant takes it upon themselves to redecorate the property without asking you first, this may be in breach of their tenancy agreement. As a result, you might be able to deduct money from their deposit to get the room back to its prior condition.
Alternatively, if you allow a tenant to redecorate, but they do a poor job, you can claim for redecoration costs also.
When Can Tenants Dispute Deposit Deductions?
But, it’s important landlords understand what they can’t claim for. When can landlords keep deposits, and when can’t they?
Tenants have many responsibilities, such as keeping up with rent payments and taking care of the property. But, for landlords, unfair deposit deductions are simply unacceptable.
Tenants are always asking ‘can my landlord withhold my deposit?’ The answer is yes, but, within reason.
Let’s put the issue to rest. Landlords cannot refuse to return the deposit for:
General Wear and Tear
As mentioned previously, reasonable wear and tear isn’t a reason to withhold tenants’ money.
The definition of normal wear and tear is a difficult one, so it’s essential to consider the tenancy itself, such as the amount of tenants and the time of occupation.
For landlords, what is considered normal wear and tear can be a grey area. So, you’ll need to justify any deposit claims you make. Your property will have been lived in for a certain amount of time, so, while there are no rules for what is ‘reasonably acceptable’, you can’t expect it to be completely fresh at the end of the tenancy.
Redecorating the Property
You can’t charge outgoing tenants for the price of redecorating the property simply because you feel it needs a facelift.
If you’re only trying to give the place a freshen up in the hopes of charging higher rent, this must come out of your own pocket.
Preparation of the Dispute
If a deposit dispute has arisen, you can’t claim for the cost of any evidence gathered or legal paperwork drawn up.
Even if the dispute goes in the favour of the landlord, the tenant’s deposit doesn’t pay for it.
Cost of Re-Letting the Property
Costs involved with re-letting the property cannot be claimed for.
The end of an old tenancy and the start of a new one are completely separate!
Anything that Contradicts the Contract
If your property has failed to live up to the standards tenants expect and deserve, you can’t claim the cost of fixing this before the next tenancy.
For example, deposit deductions aren’t allowed for repairing appliances that have failed to work throughout the tenancy.
Just as the tenant has to keep to their contract, so do landlords!
Repair to the Structure of the Property
Structural damage, such as roof repairs, cannot be deducted from the deposit.
The tenant has a right to live in a structurally safe and well-built property, therefore any repairs are the responsibility of the landlord!
Claiming for More than the Deposit
You will have set the deposit amount at the start of the tenancy. At the end of this tenancy, it cannot be changed.
If you have grounds to ask for more money, you’ll need to go through the appropriate legal proceedings.
Giving Notice About a Tenancy Deposit Dispute
Feel you have grounds for a claim? You’ll need to provide notice of this.
So, when should a landlord return a deposit? A tenant cannot expect to receive their deposit back before the end of the tenancy. However, under normal circumstances, the landlord pays it back within 10 days.
When you need to make a claim, you must write to your tenant and explain why you’re not returning the full amount. Resolved deposit disputes don’t occur without your reasons in writing.
Previously, they’ll have needed evidence that you placed their deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme within 30 days of the start of the tenancy. If you’ve failed to provide this, you may find it difficult to make a claim.
How to Make a Deposit Claim
If you’re making a claim, ensure you write to the tenant and explain exactly why. They’ll need to understand your reasons behind it. Tenancy disputes need to be clearly communicated between both parties.
If they agree with your reasoning, you won’t have to go through a dispute service. However, it’s likely that they’ll disagree.
A dispute service will be provided free of charge by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme you’ve used. It can often be difficult to find a dispute resolution, however, using a professional service ensures it will be fair.
Required Evidence for Deposit Claims
Feel you have the right to make a claim?
Evidence is key. Here’s a closer look at exactly what you’ll need:
If you have evidence of any serious damage, ensure you have photographs to prove this.
Photos are also useful to back-up any points made in the inventory, showing the before and after state of the property and any particular items.
Inventory and Schedule of Condition
However, photographs aren’t the only piece of evidence you’ll need.
A detailed, comprehensive inventory will be invaluable when make a deposit claim against a tenant. Within this report should be photos, used to support the written details within.
Naturally, this will have needed to be compiled at the start of the tenancy. The more evidence, the better!
While many landlords choose to carry these out themselves, a professional inventory will provide more clarity than a DIY one. This is thanks to the independent, unbiased third party who compiles the report!
What was laid out in the tenancy agreement? How was it stated the property must be maintained?
One important landlord deposit rule to follow is to use the tenancy agreement as a piece of armour. It will protect you from any untrue claims made by the tenant, as they will have signed it.
Have you kept hold of any important emails between you and your tenant?
If you’ve visited the property during the tenancy and found it’s not being maintained as you’ve agreed, ensure you’ve followed this up in writing.
This will be valuable evidence when it comes to making your claim!
You’ll need to show you’ve communicated any issues you’ve had with your tenants, as this will prove whether or not they took action to fix them.
Need to repair something, such as an appliance?
Ensure you’ve kept a receipt or invoice of its original cost, as you can use this when working out how much to deduct from the deposit.
Landlords withholding deposits isn’t a decision made lightly. But, if you feel you have grounds to make a claim, ensure you can support it with evidence.
How to Win a Dispute Between Landlord and Tenant
How can you ensure you’ll be granted your deposit deduction?
Don’t Be Unreasonable
A property will never be returned to you in a completely shiny and new condition. This needs to be allowed for.
It’s likely that, if you make an unreasonable claim, you’ll end up wasting the time and effort on the claim for no reward.
Don’t negate your claim by making unfair or ridiculous statements!
Keep Communication Open
Communication with your tenant is key.
When you inspect your rental property, keep an eye out for any damage and follow up with your tenant. This might be able to be fixed before the end of the tenancy.
However, if you do feel you need to make a claim, communication will be essential here also. Sitting down with your tenant and clearly explaining where the claim has come from will make it less likely that they’ll dispute it.
Here’s where your evidence will be vital. If you present all the facts in front of them, it will be difficult for them to dispute it.
Have a Detailed Inventory
When it comes to landlord disputes, a detailed inventory will be the most useful piece of evidence. Better still, it may even be able to prevent them completely!
Just as the tenancy protection scheme is in place to protect both parties, so are inventories. When landlords lose disputes, this often is down to a poorly put together, insufficient inventory.
The inventory should be used as comparative evidence, showing every detail of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. This is where detail will become so important, as it will provide clarity.
Claims from tenants such as ‘my landlord won’t return my deposit’ or accusations of unfair treatment will be stamped out with the help of an inventory.
Want to protect your investment? No Letting Go provide professionally compiled, unbiased inventories that will help to provide clarity throughout the tenancy. Interested in finding out how we can help you? Browse our full range of services here.
It’s the three words landlords despise: wear and tear. But what does it actually mean? Is wear and tear an excuse for carelessness or can it be measured? Where does wear and tear end and damage begin?
We understand exactly how confusing the issue can be. We also understand how it can reflect upon a landlord or tenant. That’s why we’re bringing you our guide to fair wear and tear to offer some answers and solutions.
What is Wear and Tear?
This question is certainly a tricky one. The truth is, wear and tear differs from situation to situation and there are many grey areas.
Having said this, common sense must always be placed at the forefront. If you fit fresh white carpet in a bedroom, you can’t expect it to remain fresh and white a year later. If that same carpet is burnt and stained with red wine marks, it can be considered damaged.
There are a few key points that affect the definition of fair wear and tear:
- Length of tenancy – the longer the tenancy, the more wear and tear you’ll see.
- Number of occupants – the more occupants in a property, the more likely there’ll be wear and tear.
- Age of occupants – when there’s children in a property, there’s a higher chance of wear and tear.
- Quality of the property – if you’ve got a newly refurbished property, there should be little wear and tear. Having said this, wear and tear in new properties is far more apparent.
Negligence and Recklessness
If something requires repairing or replacing, intensive cleaning or the care of a specialist, it’s most likely been damaged. Holes in walls, burn marks and broken furniture are all examples of damage. It’s worth asking whether the issue has come about due to negligent or reckless behaviour.
How to Prevent Wear and Tear?
One of the best ways to deal with this problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If you want to maintain the original condition of the rental property, there are a few handy tips to keep any issues to an absolute minimum:
Don’t create a showroom house which looks perfect but will never be used. Furnish your rental appropriately for the property you have. This means opting for the durable fixtures and fittings which will stand the test of time. Buying cheap is tempting as a landlord but you’ll forever be replacing items.
Keep the Property Clean and Well Maintained
It sounds so simple but this really does go a long way. You set the acceptable standard for your tenant. If the property is immaculate when they move in, they’ll want to keep it that way, minimising cleaning costs at the end of the tenancy. Regular property maintenance will also help to avoid any nasty surprises at the end of the tenancy.
Be a Good Landlord
Again, this is pretty much as basic as it comes. If you keep the tenant happy and show your professionalism, especially in the event of a dispute, they’re more likely to treat the property with respect. Be prompt in addressing repairs and maintenance issues.
Make yourself easily available. If you show that you care, they will too.
Look for Long Term Tenants
This can be a little tricky but it’s worth it in the long run. Look for tenants that will actually stay at your property for an extended period of time. These long-term tenants are more likely to take pride and ownership of your property.
There are some very clear rules on how you must approach a landlord inspection – you can’t just turn up and take a look around.
Schedule in a quarterly inspection and make note of any wear and tear or damage before it gets too far. Address the issue there and then if needed. Inspections are a great way of quelling problems before they get too far.
Set Your Expectations
There’s no harm in outlining your expectations in the tenancy agreement from the very beginning. Explain to your tenant that the property will require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure it stays in a good condition. Wear and tear in your property is just as important as any other property-related issue (such as unpaid rent) and should be treated as such.
One way to set your expectations is to provide tenants with a pre-check out service that gives them a better picture of the tasks they need to complete before giving back the keys. This can minimise wear and tear, prevent disputes and result in a smoother transition period.
What Constitutes Wear & Tear?
Here are a few issues you may encounter which should be labelled as general wear and tear:
- Small marks/stains on carpets
- Small scuffs/marks on walls
- Naturally worn down carpets
- Loose hinges/handles on doors
- Faded/cracked paint
- Frayed fabric
- Small tears/cracks on furniture
- Faded curtains
- Dirty windows
- Loose/tight tap handles
Examples of Damage
Like the above list, here are a few examples of what can be considered damage:
- Broken locks
- Broken doors
- Tears, large stains or burns on carpet
- Large scratches on wooden floors
- Burnt/split kitchen worktops
- Holes in walls
- Poorly painted surfaces
- Torn curtains
- Broken windows
- Broken toilet seat
An Inventory Check In & Check Out
One of the biggest issues surrounding wear and tear is the tenancy deposit disputes that occur when a landlord and tenant disagrees.
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.
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.