UK landlords without cast iron inventory losing out in tenant disputes

Since the start of the tenant deposit schemes in 2007 in the UK more tenants than landlords are continuing to be awarded 100% of the disputed amount at adjudications, new research shows.

Data from the Tenant Deposit Scheme Annual Review 2014, shows that over the last eight years, tenants have been awarded 20.25% the whole dispute amount, compared with 18.21% of landlords. Furthermore, the dispute amounts have risen leapt from £736 in 2010 to 2011 to £860 in 2013 to 2014.
Cleaning remains the most common cause of dispute, appearing in 53% of all cases, followed by damage in 46% of cases, redecoration in 29%, arrears in 16% and gardening in 14%. Disputes over gardening have seen a steady increase since 2011, up by 3%
‘Despite the best efforts of the deposit schemes, landlords and agents are not being awarded 100% of the deposit as often as tenants. It is worth asking ourselves why landlords have failed to improve their success rate at disputes over the last few years. One obvious reason is the quality and lack of evidence which is presented at adjudications,’ said Jax Kneppers, chief executive officer of Imfuna Let.
He believes that many landlords and agents are not conducting an adequate inventory or check-in and check-out and don’t keep copies of correspondence with the tenant, which could be evidence in a dispute.

‘It is so important that landlords and agents have a properly compiled inventory. This will always be much more detailed than a landlord’s own document and will provide vital evidence in any end of tenancy dispute. The tenants should check and sign their agreement detailing the inventory when they check-in,’ Kneppers explained.
‘At the end of the tenancy, the tenant should always be present during the check-out inspection. Tenants should also be made aware of any problems and chargeable issues to their deposit, as this will avoid disputes. Using a deposit scheme dispute service should always be a last resort. The landlord should make every effort to communicate and negotiate with their tenant,’ he added.
According to the firm the best way for landlords and agents to protect their property and avoid a dispute, is by ensuring that its condition is fully recorded at the start of the tenancy, with a comprehensive inventory, along with a thorough check-in and check-out report.
The firm’s software aims to give landlords and agents a bullet proof inventory that records the property check-in condition status. The software provides a side by side comparison report which clearly demonstrates any change in condition of the property, illustrated with date and time stamped photographs. Users can also print out a deposit dispute report, again saving time, meeting deadlines and ensuring that the tenancy deposit protection adjudicator has the information at their fingertips.