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Number of tenancy deposit disputes reaches record high

The number of tenancy deposit disputes reached a record high in 2015-16, but still represents only a fraction of all deposits.

Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) show that in the year to March 2016, the three deposit schemes in England and Wales resolved 28,100 disputes, the highest annual number ever recorded.

These disputes represented 0.82% of total deposits protected by the three schemes between March 2015 and the same month this year. 

Since deposit protection became mandatory in 2007, DCLG's figures show that there have been just under 173,000 tenancy deposit disputes adjudicated by the three protection schemes operating in England and Wales.

One of the organisations, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), says cleaning is still the most frequent issue to arise in deposit disputes, being mentioned in 57% of all claims it handles.

Damage to fixtures and fittings features in 51% of claims, followed by redecoration (32%), rent arrears (19%) and gardening (16%).

“Cleaning, damage and redecoration claims feature in many of our disputes and this highlights the need for a comprehensive inventory and check out report which enables landlords to show the condition and cleanliness of the property at the start the tenancy compared with it at the end," says Steve Harriott, chief executive of TDS.

"Without these it will be very difficult for a landlord to prove their claim for a deduction from the deposit.”

As of March 31 2016 the three schemes operating in England and Wales – TDS, mydeposits and the Deposit Protection Service – protected 3.42 million deposits worth over £3.5 billion.

The average tenancy deposit at this point was £1,041.

TDS reports that tenants get back the entirety of the disputed deposit in around 17% of cases, while landlords win all of the money in 21% of disputes.

It says payments are allocated to both parties in 61% of cases. 

Overall, in 2015-16, the average deposit disputed with TDS was £863.40, with 45.5% being returned to tenants and the remaining 54.5% going to landlords and letting agents. 

  • Mark Wilson

    Now there's a surprise, 'overall we just split it down the middle'!

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    Weighted against landlords

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    Very weighted against the landlords and they have no idea of realistic costs for cleaning

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Whilst cumulative figures have gone up the % has gone down showing that the system works and works well- this is slightly alarmist when, actually, it should celebrate that more and more depsosits are being protected creating a better sector.
    As agents we have a choice- pay membership fees and have control of the funds or use the free custodial servoce of either TDS or DPS. Disputing false claims by tenants should be easy with good record keeping. There just needs to be an enhanced digital solution to streamline the process of this for agents & landlords alike.

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    .............'These disputes represented 0.82% of total deposits protected by the three schemes between March 2015 and the same month this year......................'
    Less than 1% seems good to me.

    However how many more properties are in the rented sector now compared with the same time frame previously, and what was the %age of disputes in that earlier period? The same, more than, less than?

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