With landlords continuing to come off on the wrong side of tenant deposit disputes, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks have told landlords to shore up their claims.
During the fifth year of the Deposit Protection Service, only 16% of claims were given in the landlord’s favour. The AIIC believe this would change if landlords were better prepared, they’ve put together a checklist in a bid to turn the tide:-
- The Tenancy Agreement: First and foremost, you must submit the AST agreement to help establish the obligations between you and the tenant.
- The Inventory: Ensure you have a comprehensive inventory that is signed by the tenant when they move in. Make sure any photographic or video evidence is dated, and clearly point out any damage if relying on these in a dispute.
- Check-in and check-out: Attend the property when the tenant is moving in and moving out and inspect it together. This way, you can usually come to an agreement over the deposit return at final inspection.
- Fair wear and tear: Don’t make deductions for minor damage that should be expected in any normal use of the property.
- If you need to withhold part or all of the deposit from your tenant you must provide evidence to support your claim.
- Relevant evidence: Only submit evidence relevant to the claim. For example, if claiming for property damage, don’t submit an unpaid utility bill.
- Invoices, receipts or rental account statements: Submit invoices or receipts for any repair work that you’re claiming for. If the claim involves rent arrears, provide detailed accounts showing unpaid rent.
Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC, pressed home their point, adding: “Over and over again, we see landlords losing disputes because they can’t provide the right evidence to show that a tenant has damaged the property. Deposit protection schemes rules dictate that, at the end of the tenancy, the deposit belongs to the tenant in its entirety, unless a landlord can prove otherwise.
“In a recent case the landlord was forced to return the whole of a tenant’s deposit in spite of the property having been left in a very dirty condition. The landlord had compiled his own inventory at the start, but had only produced a list which did not include the condition of each item/area. Without any other evidence, the tenant had his whole deposit returned and the landlord had to pay for a complete house clean which cost him more than £250.
“It is so important for landlords and agents ensure there is a fair contract in place for a new tenant along with a thorough and detailed inventory. This will enable both parties to be treated fairly and reasonably.”