For many landlords, the time when a tenant moves out of a property can be extremely stressful. Most tenants are courteous and leave a property in a respectable state (general wear and tear should be expected) meaning that there are no deposit disputes and 100% of the money is returned to the tenant. However, this is not always the case and landlords may occasionally need to request some, or all the money from a deposit to pay for repairs.
For a landlord to claim all of the money, they must produce evidence to prove that the tenant behaved in a way that caused damage to a property, and according to a new report by My Property Inventories, 18.9% of landlords in the UK aren't receiving 100% of a disputed deposit due to a lack of evidence.
In the report, My Property Inventories claim that far more landlords could be awarded 100% of the money but are missing out because they - or their agents - aren't providing the necessary documents that prove their claim. Over the last seven years, 18.9% of landlords were awarded 100% of a disputed deposit compared to 20.8% of tenants; 60.3% of deposits were shared between tenants and landlords, but the report found that this often was not enough to cover the costs of damage to the property.
Disputes over deposits are one of the biggest complaints received by letting agents, and in some cases, these disputes could have been easily rectified had the landlord taken the necessary steps at the beginning of the tenancy. At the start of a tenancy, a landlord should have all the correct paperwork in place and ensure that a fair and honest tenancy contract is drafted. My Property Inventories has issued some useful guidelines for landlords to help them improve their chances should they find themselves in a potential deposit dispute.
Inventories are vital; they should be thorough and detailed to ensure that every part of the property is properly inspected before the tenancy starts, to make sure that it can be accurately compared to the property at the end of the contract. Landlords should take detailed photos of each area of the property (preferably dated), but there isn't a need to take a photo of every corner in the property. Landlords should try to produce a completely photographic or filmed inventory so that a complete written one isn't needed. If possible, landlords should refrain from compiling an inventory on their own, and get help from a lettings agent instead to make sure it is thorough.
Landlords should ensure that their property is fit for letting at the start of a tenancy. If a property is mouldy, has weeds growing in the garden or is in a generally poor state, tenants are not likely to tidy anything and therefore the rental will remain in a poor state come the end of the tenancy.
Communication between landlords and tenants is vital. Landlords should encourage their tenants to tell them of maintenance matters and other issues that require urgent attention. Many landlords hire agents such as ourselves to manage these issues, but if a landlord is doing it on their own, any call-outs should be responded to in a timely manner. If a tenant reports a broken boiler and therefore no heating, waiting 6-7 weeks to fix it is not going to leave a good impression and in serious cases can lead to potential legal complications. By maintaining healthy communication, a property is likely to remain in a fit state for letting and that will lead to fewer complications when the tenancy ends.
Here at CPS Homes, we pride ourselves on offering only the best properties to our tenants and are regulated by bodies such as ALMA and ARLA. If you’re a landlord looking to rent out a property with us, please take a look at the range of services we offer and contact us today in one of our three branches.