The devil is in the detail
Friday 29th June 2012
Recent data from the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) shows that in the last 12 months there have been 6,056 adjudications over deposit disputes, with tenants proving the winners.
Just 16 per cent were awarded solely to landlords, while 36 per cent were awarded solely to tenants, and in 48 per cent of cases there were split awards.
According to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC), many landlords are leaving themselves vulnerable to disputes because they are simply not getting their paperwork in order.
Landlords continue to have a poor record in winning tenant dispute cases. However, this could be changed dramatically if they ensure a few simple procedures are put in place at the start of a new tenancy agreement.
Pat Barber, Chair of the AIIC, said: “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.
“Landlords can greatly improve their chances of winning a dispute if they are better prepared for a potential dispute.”
AIIC has put together some advice on what landlords need to do to ensure all their paperwork is in order:
- 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 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.
The AIIC is a not for profit membership organisation and is committed to excellence and professionalism in the property inventory process. The AIIC works hard to ensure that all landlords, tenants and letting agents understand the importance and benefits of professionally completed property inventories.
For further information on AIIC, please visit
Editorial Contact Details - Rosalind Renshaw