Letting agents and landlords who prepare for a dispute at the outset of a tenancy increase their chances of avoiding one when it ends, according to The Deposit Protection Service.
In new advice to the industry, The DPS emphasises the importance of inventories and the use of photos.
Matt Trevett, managing director, says: “Thorough, mutually-signed documentation that describes the condition of a property and its contents when tenants arrive can dramatically reduce the likelihood of disagreements when they move on.
“Clarity over how much a property has changed during the tenants’ occupation means fewer grounds for disagreement or confusion over the costs of cleaning or dealing with damage and any other issues.
“In our experience, around 97 per cent of tenancies end with landlord and tenant agreeing on whether deductions from the deposit are necessary, but our free, impartial Dispute Resolution Service can help ensure that there is a fair settlement when they don’t see eye-to-eye.”
The advice includes the following tips to help landlords and letting agents avoid a dispute:
1) Complete a check-in report at the start of a new tenancy, listing the condition of everything in the property, including the carpets, walls, garden and furniture. Keep the report fair and factual;
2) Make sure that everybody agrees with the description of the property — and that tenants sign the check-in report. In the event of a dispute adjudicators can have reason to doubt a report’s content if the tenant has refused to sign it. Tenants should also sign reports from periodic property inspections;
3) Take date-stamped photos to support the check-in report. Include an accompanying note that makes it clear what the photographs show. Retake the same images at the end of the tenancy and stamp the date. These images can then illustrate any specific damage or deterioration of items;
4) Complete the report — and get it signed by the tenants — at the time they move in;
5) Provide the tenant with a copy of the check-in report.
The DPS has also created a video on the subject, which you can see here.