Too many renters still don't know of deposit protection

A year on since the law was changed to ensure greater protection for tenants, almost one in three renters are unaware of tenancy deposit protection schemes.

As well as protecting the deposit from being unfairly withheld, tenancy deposit protection schemes also act as independent mediators – benefiting landlords and renters – if renters think unfair deductions have been taken from it when a tenancy ends.

Landlords who fail to place tenants’ deposits in a government-recognised scheme within 30 days of receiving it face penalties of up to three times the value of the deposit, which is then awarded to the tenant. Shelter is highlighting the issue one year on since tenancy deposit protection law was improved.

But research by housing charity Shelter found that one in five tenants don’t know if their deposit has been protected and almost one in 10 know that their deposit definitely has not been.

Over 50% of tenancy deposit disputes are over the cleanliness of a property. A recent study by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme shows that many landlords are being caught out in this dispute, leaving them with cleaning bills higher than the deposit amount deducted. Landlords need to justify all deductions made from a deposit. For this reason we stress to our landlords the importance of going through the right steps. So what evidence would an adjudicator need if it was disputed?

Step one: CHECK-IN REPORT

An adjudicator needs to know the standard of cleanliness in the property before the tenancy start date in order to compare it to the state of the property. The best evidence from the start is a check-in report consisting of a detailed inventory and schedule of condition, with detailed references to the state of cleanliness.

If cleanliness is not mentioned, an adjudicator can’t assume the property was clean. Remember: ‘condition’ is not the same

as ‘cleanliness’ – something in good condition can be unclean and vice versa.

Step two: CHECK-OUT REPORT

This will show the condition at the end of the tenancy and is most useful for the adjudicator if it corresponds directly to the check-in report, allowing for an accurate comparison of condition.

Step three: QUOTES AND INVOICES

Justify the amount you are claiming with invoices or quotes for the work needed.

Without these an adjudicator will have to use their own judgement as to how much the work would cost, so make sure you keep a record of everything.

Remember: the tenant is only bound to return the property in its condition at the start of tenancy, so if it was not professionally cleaned at the start, then the adjudicator may not agree the full cost of a professional clean at the end.

Photos and videos are generally not useful in cleaning disputes unless referring to an individual item such as a cooker. They do not give the clearest description of the property and there may be no way to tell where or when the photo was taken. Images should always be signed, dated, and supported by written evidence, which should then be agreed by your tenant.

Belvoir Dunstable lodge all the tenants deposits with the DPS and more information can be found here. https://www.depositprotection.com