The Easy Way To Avoid Disputes

The decision to create a scheme to protect tenant deposits from unscrupulous or misguided landlords was obviously well-intentioned and long overdue. However, recent problems at the TDS have highlighted some of the gaps in the theory of how the scheme would work in practice.

Perhaps the most glaring issue has been the tendency for agents to turn to dispute resolution rather than offer landlords a realistic assessment of their chances of success before the adjudicators. This has led to a backlog of cases waiting to be resolved and many tenants waiting to receive their money. It should be noted that a great many cases are decided in favour of the tenant.

There are a few key reasons why so many landlords lose when the case comes before an adjudicator. The two most important are:

  1. The landlord does not understand the concept of “no betterment” and fair wear and tear
  2. Low quality paperwork – the detail on the inventory is insufficient and the check-out report fails to highlight damages

An agent’s responsibility

If the landlord has opted for management by the agent, then it should be the agent\’s responsibility to ensure both that the landlord is aware of the concept of fair wear and tear and that the inventory and associated reports are of the highest standard.

Here is a relevant excerpt from the March 2010 issue of Propertydrum:
“Even difficult landlords find it difficult to pursue claims or excessive claims when confronted by a competent agent. Equally, tenants who hope to get away with damage, lost or broken items can be prevented from avoiding their responsibilities when firmly addressed. Reference to a well prepared inventory stops a lot of argument.”

I would go further. It is not just about the quality of the inventory but also about the agent trusting the experience and expertise of the clerk. As professional inventory clerks, we see so many types of properties (in all sorts of conditions) and encounter every variety of wear and damage to domestic contents and structure that we are always able to advise a landlord on a reasonable amount for a claim – and the likely outcome of taking the claim forward for dispute resolution.

The win-win-win situation

Avoiding dispute adjudication usually saves the landlord money, returns the appropriate amount of deposit more quickly to a tenant, and relieves an increasingly frequent headache for the agent.

It’s all about knowing the facts and having the documents to back it up.