How landlords can avoid deposit disputes with tenants

How landlords can avoid deposit disputes with tenants

0:01 AM, 4th July 2023, About 10 months ago

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Landlords who want to avoid disputes with renters over their deposits might want to follow some expert advice from The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS), the UK’s largest protector of deposits.

The DPS says that one of the most common mistakes that landlords make is not submitting images or copies of invoices to support their claims for cleaning and repair costs, which have risen significantly in some cases.

Without invoices, it is hard for adjudicators to assess the validity and amount of a claim.

The DPS also advises landlords to submit other relevant documents, such as tenancy agreements and check-in and check-out reports, as evidence in case of a dispute.

These documents can help show the condition of the property before and after the tenancy, and the terms and responsibilities agreed by both parties.

‘Landlords are experiencing higher than usual expenses’

The managing director at The DPS, Matt Trevett, said: “Increasing cost of materials, contractors or property call‑outs means that landlords are experiencing higher than usual expenses.

“Landlords and letting agents should always consider providing invoices to their tenants to enable tenants to understand these rising costs and help avoid disagreements.

“Landlords should also consider including other evidence-based documents in support of a dispute so that an adjudicator can easily understand how they relate back to the tenant’s obligations at the start of the tenancy.”

Tips on how to ensure a smooth claims process

The DPS is offering these tips on how to ensure a smooth claims process at the end of a tenancy:

  • Landlords and renters should try to agree on how much deposit should be returned to the renter before starting the deposit return process. Landlords should explain the cost of any damage to the tenant and share invoices with them. This can help a tenant understand and agree to the requested amounts and avoid a dispute.
  • Landlords should only use reputable companies for repairs or maintenance, and ask for invoices on headed notepaper, clearly spelling out costs. Adjudicators are unlikely to accept handwritten prices on blank paper as evidence.
  • Landlords should not claim for a full replacement of an item if only a part of it is damaged. For example, if a tenant has slightly dented the door of a three-year-old working fridge, adjudicators may only award the cost of repairs or the reduced lifespan of the fridge, not a new fridge.
  • Landlords should keep all documents that relate to the tenancy – especially if a tenant claim leads to a dispute that is unresolvable or a long-running court case.

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