A deposit dispute with a difference of opinion

March 7th, 2013

In our article ‘Landlords need to get it right from the beginning’ we stated that to take some of the tenant’s deposit to cover damage or cleaning, there has to be proof that a change in the state of the property has occurred during the period that the tenant has been in occupancy.

Unfortunately, the situation is not always clear cut, which means there can be a difference of opinion between the tenant and the Landlord or Letting Agent.

If a formal deposit dispute is made to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme a TDS Adjudicator will look at the facts and the evidence provided.  A recent deposit dispute example they give is a landlord claiming £100 for a broken light fitting.  The Landlord claimed that this was due to over tightening when the bulb was replaced by the tenant.  However, the Inventory Clerk reports stated that the damage had been caused by external works to the building as this is what the tenant had told them at the time of check-out.

Now in our opinion the inventory clerk possibly made an error here by just accepting what the tenant told them, it’s difficult to say not knowing all the facts. But the point is, the Landlord was not able to produce evidence contrary to the inventory report therefore the TDS did not uphold the deposit dispute claim.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme state that ‘inventory check-in and check-out reports are the principal evidence that an adjudicator will consider to assess changes in property condition’ and that Landlords and Letting Agents ‘will need to produce compelling evidence if they have a dispute, before an adjudicator makes their decision’.

Therefore, a detailed inventory report carried out by a reputable and experienced Property Inventory Company will ensure that deposit claim disputes are backed up by the evidence required.