Deposit disputes can be avoided by keeping detailed records

By 12/03/2016 No Comments
Keeping detailed notes on the state of the property at the start of the rental agreement can help avoid deposit disputes at its end

A common source of deposit disputes between landlords and tenants is over the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy. But being proactive and recording essential details at the start and the end of the lease can provide landlords and tenants with the evidence and information they need to prove their respective points and resolve them without the need to resort to lengthy and expensive legal processes.

The main reasons for deposit disputes

The main reasons cited for deposit disputes in recent years have included the cleanliness of the property, damage to the property and the need for redecoration.

These issues often result in the landlord making a claim on the deposit, something that needs lengthy and costly legal processes to resolve if agreement on the deduction can’t be reached between the parties.

Proving the difference between the property at the start and end of the tenancy is something that can be problematic and is often the basis for disputes.

To avoid that situation, we recommend that both the landlord and tenant to be proactive and create an evidential trail of the condition of the property at the start, during and at the end of the tenancy. This can help justify a landlord’s claim on the deposit or help with a tenant’s defence.

Creating the evidential trail

The first thing a landlord or tenant should do at the start of a new tenancy is create a written record of the condition of the property.

Many letting agents will use standard forms to record “inventory”. The best time to go through this written exercise is just as the keys are being handed over.

Go from room to room, inspect everything from the floor to the ceiling, and take notes of everything that is not in perfect condition.

Ideally, the landlord and the tenant should go through the property together at the same time and record the condition of every room, highlighting any snags or things that need to be addressed immediately. If this isn’t possible, then arrange a second viewing where the other party can go through and confirm or query all of the details that have been recorded.

The landlord and tenant should sign and date the document and both keep copies to refer to at the end of the tenancy if needed.

A visual record

A good addition or alternative to an inventory list is take photos or video of every room and every issue, and share these with both sides.

If you’ve created a Deposify account for the deposit, both landlords and tenants can store and record photos or videos in their Deposify account. These can be used as reference points in the event of deposit dispute and are available to our independent adjudicators if needed.

Taking notes at the end of the tenancy

As the end of the tenancy is nearing, it’s worth repeating the “inventory” process with both parties present. As a tenant, if there are any problems that the landlord feels need to be addressed, record them and take care of the problem before leaving to avoid claims on your deposit. Taking photos or video of the corrected problem can be stored in Deposify, adding to the evidential trail in the event of a dispute.

By doing these simple things, at the end of the tenancy, there is a clearly agreed written and visual record of the condition of the property and fittings that can be referred to by either side should a dispute arise.

It’s always better to head off deposit disputes before they arise, and key to doing so is good communication and being proactive by storing and recording that evidential trail.

You can find out more about Deposify and get early access to the future of deposit management by signing up here.

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