Tenancy deposit disputes are at their highest level since records began in 2007, new figures from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) reveal.
The data shows that at the end of March 2016 there were close to 173,000 tenancy deposit disputes adjudicated in the nine years since the legislation was first introduced in England and Wales.
Indeed in 2015-16 alone the three deposit schemes operating in England and Wales resolved 28,100 disputes, the highest ever annual amount. This represents a total of 0.82% of all deposits protected at March 2016, a figure which has stayed at about that level for the last six years.
The study found that cleaning now accounts for the lion’s share of tenancy deposit disputes, reflecting the fact that landlords are increasingly faced with dirty properties at the check-out stage of a tenancy.
Cleaning was mentioned in 57% of dispute claims handled by the TDS, followed by damage to fixtures and fittings features at 51%, redecoration at 32% and rent arrears in 19% of claims. Gardening disputes were mentioned in some 16% of tenancy deposit claims.
In terms of who received what, the figures show that the average disputed deposit handled by TDS in 2015-16 was £863.40, with 45.5% being returned to tenants and 54.5% to the landlords and, or agents.
Deposits taken on assured shorthold tenancies in England and Wales by landlords or letting agents must be protected within 30 days in any one of three government-backed insurance based or custodial deposit protection schemes operated by MyDeposits, Deposit Protection Service (DPS) and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
The insurance product enables landlords or agents to retain the deposit during the tenancy but in return pay a protection fee to the scheme.
The custodial scheme allows landlords or agents to hand over the deposit for protection during the tenancy, with no fees attached. The scheme is funded entirely from the interest earned from the deposit pool.
There are separate tenancy deposit protection schemes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The three appointed scheme administrators in Scotland are Letting Protection Service Scotland, Safedeposits Scotland and MyDeposits Scotland.
In Northern Ireland, the schemes are Deposit Scheme Northern Ireland, MyDeposits Northern Ireland and Letting Protection Service NI.