A formal tenancy deposit dispute could be defused by something as basic as a simple conversation, says the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks.
The AIIC says that if a tenant contacts their letting agent or landlord to discuss a disagreement over a deposit deduction, there is a much-reduced chance of it escalating to a formal dispute lodged with one of the three government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme says the number of disputes lodged with it has increased 25 per cent in the past year. Meanwhile figures from my|deposits show that in the past year 30 per cent of initial disagreements didn't proceed to a formal Alternative Dispute Resolution - showing the importance of communication.
The TDS reports that cleaning (a source of disagreement in 58 per cent of cases) was the most common reason for disputes during 2014/2015. It was far ahead of rent arrears disputes on just 10 per cent.
The AIIC says there are easy steps to follow to ensure that both parties are protected and the chance of an end of tenancy dispute is minimised.
It advises that aside from the tenancy agreement, protecting a property by having a fully detailed inventory is vital. Tenants must have a copy of this document on the day they move in to enable them check and agree the contents.
"This signed document can then be used at time of check out [after which] it is very difficult for a tenant to argue against such firm evidence of check in condition. Should a dispute occur a simple conversation between the landlord and the tenant really could make all the difference” says Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC.
“An independently compiled inventory will comprehensively detail the condition of the property at the beginning of the tenancy. Therefore, it can become an invaluable resource at the end of the tenancy and really could contribute towards avoiding a formal deposit dispute” she says.