Expectations for deposit claims and potential disputes

Lydia Devine - CPS Homes Maintenance & Inspections ManagerAdvice to our landlords from our Maintenance & Inspections Manager, Lydia Devine.

At this time of the year especially, many landlords (and tenants!) come to us with questions about when they can expect their deposit claim to be settled. With a considerable number of our tenancies ending on the same day and contractors being limited in their availability to complete remedial works, we ask that you bear with us as we prepare and submit any necessary claims.

Who holds and releases the deposit?

Every deposit is registered with and held by the Deposit Protection Service's (DPS) custodial scheme, which means they need the agreement of both parties (CPS Homes and the tenant(s)) before they will release the monies.

How long does a deposit claim take to be settled?

We'll have a dedicated team working on returning deposits and we'll be addressing claims in order of check-out date. As you may remember from previous years, in order to ensure our contractors are paid swiftly, we'll first need to deduct the cost of their invoice from your rent and reimburse you when the deposit claim has been settled.

Assuming the tenants agree with our claim, we expect funds to be returned to landlords and tenants between 6 and 8 weeks of the check-out date.

If there's a dispute, it can take a lot longer because it must go through the DPS' Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. Experience of this process tells us landlords aren’t in a favourable position and decisions are heavily-weighted towards tenants, so it's best to come to an agreement with the tenants without using ADR. Please read on.

The dispute process

Unfortunately, a considerable amount of deposit claims are disputed by tenants. This means compiling a mountain of evidence to back-up our claims and submitting it to an independent adjudicator at the DPS for them to make a final, legally-binding decision. Ultimately, the deposit belongs to the tenant, so the claim needs to be faultless in order to convince the adjudicator to side with us. A guide to damages and deposit disputes can be read here.

We process thousands of deposit returns every year and have a back-catalogue of adjudication decisions to refer to, so we can confidently predict the outcome in most types of claims. Unfortunately, in recent years we’ve found it's become increasingly difficult for agents/landlords to win these claims, even with a thorough dossier of evidence presented. It's very rare that a claim is won in full at adjudication.

Settling on an amount

With this in mind, we're urging more landlords to agree a compromise with tenants where deposit claims are disputed. This may mean agreeing to a 25% reduction to settle outside of adjudication, but that outcome is considerably more positive than if it went to adjudication. You would also receive funds much quicker, as it currently takes 3-6 months for a decision to be reached at adjudication.

Where we receive a dispute from tenants (which will all be done via e-mail), we may forward their reasoning to you and a suggested figure to settle on. Our deposits team will be able to discuss any disputed claims with you and the likely outcome if you still wish for the matter to proceed to adjudication.

21 June 2019


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