WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON DEPOSIT DISPUTES?
Deposit disputes can be very time consuming and worrying for both tenants and landlords, often, causing delays with onward moves coupled with quite distressing financial implications. Of course, all landlords are now required by law to register deposits with a government scheme which protects both parties by appointing a 3rd party adjudicator to assess the evidence with an objective view point if a dispute arises.
There are some common re-occurring things which cause tenancy disputes and by identifying them and highlighting them to tenants and landlords it can really help to speed the process up.
If, as a tenant, you have changed the decoration in any way while living at the property then you may well have to return it back to its original colour/condition. Check your contract and with your agent or landlord to see if the landlord requires this. It is likely if you have painted walls in a very strong colour then this will need to be returned back to neutral.
Landlords- remember you have to allow for a certain amount of wear and tear (scuff marks etc) in a property which is judged on the length of tenancy and the occupants to whom you have agreed a tenancy to. The longer the tenancy then the more amount of wear and tear you need to allow for. If you have agreed to a large family with children and pets, then you will need to expect and allow for more wear and tear than that from a single person or couple.
Landlords- make sure you have had the property professionally cleaned before tenants move in and keep the receipts. This along with a thorough inventory with photographs before they move in will mean that there is no question as to what condition the property should be handed back in. If you don’t get it professionally cleaned, then the tenants will be more likely to take a ‘that will do’ approach’ and will probably miss areas. If you have no inventory then it will be very difficult to prove the level of cleanliness when the tenant/s moved in.
The most commonly missed areas are ovens (particularly the inside), carpet cleaning, the insides of kitchen cupboards, grout and sealants in bathrooms, the inside of appliances (including fridges, freezers and washing machine dispensing drawers), lightshades and skirting boards.
As a tenant- you should leave the property in the same condition as you found it allowing for wear and tear. Damages are very different to wear and tear. Examples of damages are burn marks in carpets, missing items and holes in plaster etc whereas wear and tear would be things like small scuffs and marks on the wall, minor wear on carpets and faded curtains.
The landlord can deduct things from the deposit in relation to damages but not from normal wear and tear. With regards to damages, the landlord does not need to replace the item for something better (otherwise known as betterment). Items should always be replaced on a like for like basis and should also factor in the age and expected lifespan of the item. For example, if a carpet has been damaged but is 8 years old you cannot expect to claim for a whole replacement carpet- a contribution towards the cost of replacement would be most appropriate.
If you would like some guidance in letting your property, then please contact Laura Fiddes-Baron on 0121 445 7410 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.