The most common cause of a tenancy deposit dispute in the private rented property sector is cleaning, while disputes over rent arrears have soared, according to the latest data from the Tenant Deposit Scheme (TDS).
Cleaning has consistently been the most common dispute in cases brought to the TDS, with the latest figures showing that in 2015-2016 it accounted for 57% of cases, down just 1% year-on-year.
Damage to property makes up the second most cause of disputes at 51%, followed by redecoration at 32%.
But somewhat worryingly for both landlords and tenants, rent arrear disputes have almost doubled, soaring from 10% to 19% year-on-year.
The findings from this report reinforce the fact that there should always be an accurate schedule of condition in place.
In addition to being used as evidence in a dispute, a detailed and precise inventory which records the condition of the property with written notes, photographic evidence, as well as details of the contents, including fixtures and fittings, which are completed at the start of the tenancy, and again when the tenancy ends, also underlines exactly what is expected of the tenant. It can also help landlords avoid a disagreement in the first place.
“Providing a professional inventory report for every tenancy is essential in ensuring deposit disputes are a rare occurrence,” said Marie Brooks of Monks letting agents.
She continued: “When a detailed and thorough record of a property and its contents are provided at the beginning of a tenancy, there can be no doubt as to the amount of damage that has taken place when compared to the condition of the same at the end of a tenancy.
“In our experience, inventory reports have reduced tenant and landlord disputes to a great degree.”
Jax Kneppers, founder and CEO of Imfuna, advises all landlords to make regular inspections of a property to check its condition, enabling them not just to raise any issues with the tenant, but also to avoid a nasty surprise at check-out.
He said: “Tenants should be made aware that it is their responsibility to leave the property as clean as when they took on the property, and if any damage is incurred during the tenancy the landlord or agent should be alerted immediately.”
“It is vital that landlords and agents do a thorough check-in and check-out so they have the necessary proof of condition at the start and end of a new tenancy agreement. If agents and landlords wish to make deductions for cleaning costs, they need to be able to prove that there was a change in condition from the start to the end of a tenancy in order to prove deductions are warranted,” he added.