Information provided by The Dispute Service (TDS), taken from their Annual Review 2020, indicates cleaning is the most common reason for tenancy deposit dispute claims. Other reasons include damage to the property, cost of redecorating the property, rent arrears and gardening issues, but cleaning was the leading issue.
Cleaning resulted in the following percentages of claims against different branches of The Dispute Service:
42% of claims made against TDS Insured
53% of claims made against TDS Custodial
45% of claims made against TDS Northern Ireland
69% of claims made against SafeDesposit Scotland
Tenants are raising disputes against landlords
There has also been an increase in the proportion of disputes cited by tenants. In the 2018=19 review, this was at 67%, but in 2019-20, this had risen to 74%.
Paul Oxley, Managing Director of lettings management software company Decorus for Sage, said: “According to the TDS, many tenants claim that the cleanliness of the property at the start of the tenancy was not clear, or that the tenancy agreement did not make clear what was expected of them. So, it is vital that landlords have a proper inventory prepared and do a thorough check-in and check-out, so they have the right proof of condition at the start and end of a new tenancy agreement. When landlords take the time to spell out tenants’ responsibilities in terms of cleaning and caring for the property, tenants are more likely to conduct their tenancy in a way that is respectful to the property and this minimises any potential damage.”
Paul Oxley also said; “At the check-out stage, the tenant should be made aware of the areas requiring cleaning and the potential cost involved. It is important to remember that the tenant is only obliged to return the property in the same state of cleanliness as at the start of the tenancy, after allowing for fair wear and tear. Landlords should conduct thorough check-in and check-outs at the start and end of the tenancy, supported by a professional inventory. Clear communication on the tenant’s responsibilities when they move into the property will improve the chances of a trouble-free check-out.”
Inventories are essential
While there will be issues that cannot be prevented, there is a lot to be said for carrying out a thorough inventory check at the start of the tenancy. When both landlord and tenant agree on the standard of cleanliness expected in the rental property, there is a benchmark to follow.
If you would like to learn more about inventory checks, or how to better manage the relationship between landlord and tenant, please contact Thomas Morris today.
Paul Oxley continues: “The common mistakes in landlord inventories are essentially lack of detail. Landlords often write just a brief shopping list and often do not have the appropriate photographs and videos, along with accompanying written descriptions to show the condition of the property and its contents.”
Paul concluded by saying; “If the landlord finds the tenant fails to agree to the deposit deductions, they need to ensure they have the evidence such as a thorough and fully detailed inventory, copies of which are given to the tenant at check-in and check-out. It is imperative that tenants sign their acceptance of the contents of the check-in within seven days of the move in, and this signed copy should be retained by either the landlord.”
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