Annual Report Reveals Tenancy Dispute Trends During 2020

The Dispute Service has published its first Annual Report on tenancy disputes and resolutions to communicate insights from 2020-21 to the wider Private Rented Sector (PRS).

The comprehensive report, which is free to download, draws on data from the 2020/21 period and reveals the main causes of deposit disputes that occur at the end of tenancies.

The Dispute Service operates a number of statutory tenancy deposit protection schemes in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. As part of the overall service, agents, landlords and tenants have access to free dispute resolution in relation to disputes about the distribution of the deposit at the end of the tenancy.  It also offers free mediation and conciliation services through TDS Resolution in England and Wales and SDS Resolution in Scotland. These operations focus on tenant and landlord disputes arising during a tenancy and aim to help landlords and tenants reach a suitable solution which allows them to sustain their tenancies.

The easy-to-read publication presents findings on who is initiating the most disputes, what the common reasons are and how they are being resolved.

Many in the industry will be keen to see who has been awarded the deposit in cases of dispute. The data is broken down by jurisdiction and tenancy deposit scheme (TDS Insured, TDS Custodial, SafeDeposits Scotland and TDS Northern Ireland) and shows how often the tenant and landlord win a case, which may surprise some in the PRS.

For example, in England and Wales, 69 per cent of the disputes deposit is split between the landlord and tenant with the tenant getting all of the disputed deposit back in 16 per cent of all disputes.  In Scotland, the equivalent figures are 65 per cent shared, with 21 per cent of cases seeing the tenant get back 100 per cent of the disputed award.  In Northern Ireland, the data shows the tenant gets back the deposit in 39 per cent of all disputes, with 49 per cent of the disputes seeing a shared outcome.

Steve Harriott, chief executive at the Dispute Service, said: “We receive about 22,500 initial dispute requests each year at The Dispute Service and many of these are resolved by the landlords and tenants themselves or by our own early resolution efforts. We issue around 15,500 formal adjudications each year. It’s interesting to see the data on these disputes and share it with the industry with the aim of helping them to avoid common disagreements in the future.”

For those that are keen to understand more about the adjudication process and how long it takes to resolve a dispute, the report also explains how it works and how quickly.