The vast majority of tenancies end with the landlord and tenant agreeing over the return of the deposit. Deposit disputes are rare but it makes sense to be prepared, so here are some tips to help you get started:
- Prepare from the start of the tenancy
Ensure you have a clear and concise AST agreement. Conduct thorough, check-in and check-out reports, take photographs and keep invoices and receipts. Remember it is the responsibility of the landlord to prove a deposit should be returned to them, legally the deposit belongs to the tenant until the landlord can prove otherwise. This requires the landlord to prove the starting and finishing condition of a property through a thorough inventory, as part of our tenant find and management service we provide a 366 point inventory.
- Talk to your tenants
Talking through any issues or concerns with your tenants is one of the most effective ways of avoiding a dispute. Explain their obligations as set out in the tenancy agreement and your reasons for any deductions. At NGU we perform a two part move-out process. We conduct an initial meeting to outline any work which needs to be performed for the tenant to receive their deposit back and the cost of the deductions which will be made if the this work is not performed. We then perform a second meeting outlining any deductions which will be made, due to none-performance, so that the tenant is not surprised when or if this occurs.
- Allow for fair wear and tear
Wear and tear is a subjective topic but you have to allow for “fair” wear and tear. So for example if a tenant has been a resident at your property for 10 years, and the carpets were new when they moved-in, you wouldn’t expect the carpets to be new when they moved-out. The points to consider with wear and tear are:
- The length of the tenancy, i.e. you should allow more wear and tear the longer the tenancy
- Number and age of occupiers i.e. you should allow more wear and tear for children and families
- Wear and tear vs actual damage i.e. you need to identify what is wear and tear and what is damage
- Quality of the accommodation i.e. how robust were the goods subject to wear and tear, what is their “fair” lifespan
- Prevention i.e. by performing regular property visits you can stop some of the wear and tear happening
- Photographs and inventory i.e. the more evidence you have the more likely your assessment of fair wear and tear will be reasonable
- Common sense when applying it
- Remember dispute Adjudicators are impartial
You must provide evidence to support your claim to the deposit so make sure it’s relevant and robust. An adjudicator will make a decision based on the evidence you submit and it is for the landlord to prove any deductions rather than the tenant to prove why it should be retained.
If you have any queries regarding deposits, please do not hesitate to contact me or the team at NGU Homelettings,