As an agent that offers our landlords a full Management Service we will often manage all aspects of a tenancy and this will sometimes includes any disputes regarding the return of the deposit.
Deposit disputes can be confusing, and you can easily get lost, so we are always here to guide you.
But if you manage your own properties then The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) has given its six top tips for landlord and tenants to help them navigate the deposit dispute maze.
1. Check what the tenancy agreement says about repairs
Tenants should always be clear on what repairs and/or decorating they are allowed to do to the property.
If they do want to paint a wall or add some pictures, you will usually need to have written permission from the landlord allowing this.
We suggest never making any cosmetic changes to a property without specific landlord permission.
2. If the agreement permits, try to carry out minor and inexpensive repairs
If a drawer handle breaks or a door handle becomes loose, for example, it is often better for the tenant to fix it quickly and inexpensively - within reason.
Bigger and more significant work should be reported to the landlord as soon as possible.
3. Carry out repairs or cleaning before the end of the tenancy
If there are repairs to be done, then this should be completed during the tenancy so the tenants are not living in a property with any outstanding issues.
Redecorating is usually completed between tenancies to avoid any inconvenience, but if the current tenants are happy or requesting it themselves, then the landlord can work with them to get it completed.
Ensure that clauses about redecoration are included in the tenancy agreement so tenants can manage their expectations on signing.
4. Take date-stamped photographs as evidence
As part of a tenancy, we always encourage landlords to have a detailed inventory with photographs and descriptions of the entire property (and dated).
This should also be sent to the tenants to gain their approval so that both parties have the same expectations.
The inventory can then be used as good evidence if there ever are any disputes in the future for both parties.
5. Avoid emotive or abusive language when describing evidence
As a landlord you may feel strongly if you feel that your property has been left dirty or in disrepair.
But leave the emotive words such as “filthy” and “disgusting” out of your communications.
If a disagreement does go to the dispute stage, then the tenant may see the language used and feel defensive against the claim against them.
This reflects true for tenants as well. Try to remain clear and concise throughout.
6. Be fair
If a tenant has lived in a property for several years, it can be hard to remember the property’s original condition and to understand the fair amount of wear and tear a number of years habiting can cause.
For example, if an old curtain pole has broken do not try to charge the tenant the original price when it has been there for five plus years. Be fair on your expectations.
Likewise, tenants should be prepared to accept deductions if they have caused any disrepair or damage in the property.
Hopefully these few tips from the DPS can help landlords and tenants navigate the tricky deposit dispute negotiation without having to go to mediation.
Here at Sarah Clark Property Consultants we are here to help landlords and tenants and we will always offer fair and honest advice.
If you want to get in touch then call us on 01174522400