Fergus Wilson Panorama documentary – now available on iPlayer22:10 PM, 18th March 2019
About A week ago 99
Help is at hand for landlords struggling to claim money through the deposit protection schemes. A deposit protection adjudicator has set up an online service to help landlords avoid the common pitfalls and successfully claim the money they are owed.
In a twist on the poacher turned gamekeeper scenario, Tom Derrett, formerly a deposit protection adjudicator, has set up ADR Solution, an online service giving specialist legal advice to landlords on how to maximise their chances of winning deposit protection disputes. Now, rather than enforcing the rules against landlords, Tom is giving landlords the benefit of his unique insider knowledge.
“As an adjudicator I had to decide claims based on the evidence in front of me,” said Tom, a qualified lawyer, “but I often felt that the landlord could have won if they took some advice on how to present their claim. Seeing an obvious gap in the market, I decided to set up ADR Solution to provide landlords with the advice they need.”
Since the introduction of the controversial deposit protection legislation in 2007, landlords have struggled to claim the money they are owed through the deposit protection schemes. If, at the end of the tenancy, the landlord and tenant cannot decide how much of the security deposit should be retained to compensate for any necessary repairs or redecoration, the deposit protection schemes run their own ADR (alternative dispute resolution) departments, to resolve the dispute free of charge.
Figures released by My Deposits last year show that landlords only won the full amount they claimed in 8% of cases, whereas tenants were awarded all of the money in almost half of the disputes. Tom Derrett intends to even the odds for landlords.
“I just don’t accept that half of all landlords’ claims are without merit. The landlords that I deal with are genuine businessmen and women who are trying to get what they are owed. I am certain that together we can reverse the trend.”
Landlords have argued that the deposit protection disputes are biased in the favour of the tenant, but this is not a charge that Mr Derrett accepts.
“People often tell me that the system is not fair and that the tenant always wins. My opinion is that landlords lose, not because the system isn’t fair, but because the system is too fair. The disputes are resolved to legal standards, within a legal framework, which is precisely why landlords need proper legal advice in order to win.”
The deposit protection legislation, he argues, is here to stay, and landlords need to take their involvement in disputes sufficiently seriously. As a person who has decided hundred of claims, he should know what landlords need to do to win, but is ADR Solution going to prove popular in a recession, when landlords are already feeling squeezed.
“I believe the business model is one that will thrive, even in difficult economic times. We strive to keep our overheads down and utilise new technology to minimise the man hours we have to spend on any given claim. I accept that with an average of about £750 in dispute, it isn’t cost effective to instruct a high street solicitor, but our cost is minimal in comparison to traditional legal services, and we work for a single fixed fee. There are no hidden extras.”
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