Disputes about deposits can be a real headache for everyone involved. Ask anyone and it’s quite likely that they, or someone they know, will have had a bad experience.
I find myself asking the question why? After all, deposits are there to protect people, both the landlord and the tenant.
If everything is done properly, with clarity and transparency, then no one should ever have to worry about deposit disputes. If something gets broken or damaged, it has to be paid for and that’s just common decency and good manners.
Sadly, things can and do go wrong all too frequently and the number one reason is because of an incomplete or missing inventory.
In the news this week there was a story about a dispute between a landlord and a tenant over a deposit claim. The landlord was upset at the condition of the property and the tenant had refused to accept responsibility. Unfortunately for the landlord, the original inventory had not been completed in properly and this meant that the DPS (Deposit Protection Scheme) was unable to rule in favour of the landlord. The DPS said that the original Check-in report was too vague for them to make a reasonable comparison from before and after the tenancy.
It merely said, “all items are clean, fresh and bright unless otherwise stated”. Such descriptions are woefully inadequate for a legal document, and the DPS had no choice but to rule in favour of the tenant.
There is a big lesson to be learnt here, and that is to always create a thorough and complete inventory, with photographs. If you are a landlord it’s your responsibility to do it, and if you are a tenant you must ask your landlord to make a thorough inventory.
A good inventory is clear, concise, accurate and signed by both parties. It should contain photographs of everything and the more thorough you are the better it is for everyone. If you operate through a letting agent, ask them if they have made an accurate inventory and make sure you see it. Pay attention to the details, it’s better for everyone.