It is standard procedure within the property industry for landlords and lettings agents to take a deposit from tenants before they can move in. Deposits are used to cover costs for maintenance or damage at the end of the tenancy but, with tenancy deposit schemes now in operation across the UK a lot of landlords are missing out on their claims because they haven’t protected themselves in the process. It is more important than ever that properties and their contents are accounted for properly and that all parties involved in the rental process understand their obligations to avoid landlords losing money which is rightly theirs.
Reasons for Disputes
Most deposit disputes result from miscommunication between landlords and tenants and can be overcome by clearly laying out standards, responsibilities and expectations.
Common reasons for disagreements include:
- Cleaning required
- Damage and repairs
- Redecoration needed
- Overgrown gardens
- Rental arrears and outstanding bills
- Missing Items
How you can protect yourself
As a landlord you can protect yourself from disputes by building a good relationship with your tenant(s) and reminding them of their obligations under the tenancy agreement, preferably in writing. Many tenants may live in a property for a long period of time, so a gentle reminder about what is expected may make discussions around deductions from the deposit easier for both parties.
Now a legal duty, landlords must protect a tenant’s rent deposit in a government tenancy deposit protection scheme, and this is beneficial to both the tenant and landlord in the event of a dispute. If a landlord has lost out financially and can prove this is due to a tenants actions then they may be able to keep all or part of the deposit.
Disputes can be managed at the start of a tenancy, not the end, by providing clear guidelines.
A property inventory report is beneficial for all parties involved and provides clear guidelines on how the property should be returned at the end of the tenancy. Not only are tenants more likely to have their deposit returned in full, but it also decreases the risk of disputes arising at the end of the tenancy, saving the landlord time and money.
In the unfortunate event of a deposit dispute it is vital to have detailed written reports that record the state of the property, along with digitally dated photographs from both check-in and check-out. If there is then a disagreement about returning a deposit, there is evidence to prove the condition.
When should inventories be carried out?
Check-ins: Inventories should be carried out as close as possible to the time tenants are moving in. By doing so, there will be an accurate representation of the property’s property condition at the start of the tenancy.
Mid-Term: It is also advised that landlords instruct a mid-term property inspection. These can help to determine if any issues may arise at the end of the tenancy and will minimise the risk of disputes later on.
Check-outs: Check outs should be carried out as soon as the tenant leaves the property. It is also good practice for the landlord to arrange to meet the tenant in the property to go over the inventory and ensure the property is being returned in a suitable condition.
Be clear with tenants from the outset what their responsibilities are, and with the assistance of detailed inventories at check in and check out coupled with regular inspections and pre-move procedures you can ensure that whilst there may be agreed deductions from a tenant deposit, there will not be a deposit dispute.
Set the standard to which your property should be maintained and returned at the end of the tenancy with a comprehensive, detailed inventory report from Assist Inventories.
We offer property inventory services for landlords and agents who require the security of a robust property inventory report but lack the time to carry them out themselves.
Talk to us about how we can assist with your inventory reports leaving you free to ensure you are investing wisely and maintaining your portfolio.