The deposit protection requirements mean any deductions from a deposit to cover damage at the end of a tenancy need to be agreed with the tenant. This usually happens without any significant issue.
However, even where there is an apparently clear case some tenants can refuse to accept deductions. Assuming all steps have been taken to agree an acceptable compromise the amount in question is then in dispute.
Where this happens we would:
If the tenant does nothing for 3 months then we can consider the disputed amount resolved and it can be released to cover the cost of the works to which it related. In the meantime the landlord has to cover the costs of those works.
However the tenant has the right to seek adjudication of the deduction through their deposit protection scheme. Most of our tenants are covered by The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) or through a no deposit scheme.
We normally work really hard to avoid the adjudications appeals for two reasons:
The process takes a great deal of time, with an extensive set of paperwork required to prove the proposed deductions are reasonable. We make a charge to cover the cost of this work. Our standard charge is usually more than the cost of the amount in dispute.
These adjudications rely purely upon written evidence. Where there is any doubt they can make a split decision, e.g. In one case the landlord considered they had a really strong case (a massive pink carpet stain at check out which was not there at tenancy start). The landlord secured just 66% of the claimed deduction as there were no clear photographs of the carpet at tenancy start, even through the tenant had signed to say the carpet was undamaged.
Given this we recommend avoiding a dispute where possible. If a landlord decides they want to make a deduction which will be disputed, we recommend they need to be prepared to lose all of it if there is an appeal.
To improve the chance of success it is essential to have a clear photographic inventory against which clear comparisons can be made at the end of tenancy inspection. This provides as much evidence as possible to show whether any claim is reasonable.
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