Most tenancies end amicably when it comes to dealing with deposit release. In this article, though, you will discover how to successfully manage a deposit dispute with a tenant.
The importance of an inventory in a tenancy deposit dispute
The first step in successfully managing a deposit dispute is a detailed, professional and independent inventory. This allows a basis for the argument. Once you have a detailed inventory, follow up with a check-out report, basing on the initial inventory report. So that, you have independent reports to outline any changes in the property. Note downs details such as damage or dirtiness between the start and end of the tenancy, should the situation escalate to dispute resolution.
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Obtain independent quotes for any work
When what needs to be fixed or cleaned in your property is clear, make sure you obtain independent quotes for any necessary work. Be it a professional house and carpet clean or fixing a broken sink or window, always get a professional cleaning quote. In fact, in the event of a tenancy deposit dispute, the adjudicator will only award you for the money spent and you need to have evidence of that.
In a tenancy deposit dispute, negotiation is key
Once you have all the quotes for any damage or cleaning, speak to your tenants. Try and resolve the deposit issue with your tenant without it escalating further. Discuss the issues with your tenant that need fixing as per the tenancy agreement, inventory and check-out reports. Usually, tenants will agree about most of the issues. But there may be occasions when they dispute the amounts involved.
Negotiation is key at this point. You can meet your tenants halfway. You are better off settling for slightly less than rather going to dispute resolution, which involves time and effort and paperwork. Be reasonable with your tenants. Most landlords agree that negotiation is the best option.
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The Scheme Assistance in a tenancy deposit dispute
It is important to keep the communication going. When a tenant notifies the deposit scheme that they wish to dispute the tenancy deposit deduction, both the landlord and tenant can agree to go through with the dispute resolution service offered by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme to adjudicate the dispute.
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Proving evidence to support your claim
The landlord must submit a case and provide evidence to support their claim to the tenancy deposit deductions.
The landlord evidence should include:
- a tenancy agreement,
- and check-out reports,
- and any video available,
- as well as documents relevant to the dispute that support the claim.
All claims should be cross-referenced with the relevant evidence to ensure ease of reading for the adjudicator. Landlords have 14 days to provide evidence.
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Tenants will be given the opportunity to review the dispute case and counter the landlord’s claim. Tenants are also invited to submit their own evidence.
Examples of tenant’s evidence can be:
- email exchanges with landlords/agents,
- text messages,
- or any other evidence that can help to counter a claim.
Tenants also have 14 days to act.
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Landlords will be given another opportunity to view the dispute case and submit a further comment for the adjudicator to review. They have seven days to provide comments.
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The adjudicator’s final decision in the tenancy deposit dispute
An independent adjudicator will review the case and their decision is final. There is no opportunity for cross-examination or to hire legal advisers. All decisions are based on the evidence submitted by the landlords and tenants. They will notify the tenant and landlord of the full and final decision. Then, they will distribute the money as per the decision.
It’s important to remember that, if you submit to adjudication, you cannot appeal against the final decision unless you challenge it through the courts.
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Deposit arbitration can only involve the amount of a deposit. So, if a deposit dispute exceeds the total value of the deposit, then landlords have to go to the small claims court. They would, however, have to inform the deposit scheme of their intention.
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