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Landlords – what do you need to know about deposit deductions?

It’s common practice for landlords to protect their rental property by taking a deposit from the tenant and returning it once they move out. While the tenant is entitled to a full refund at the end of the tenancy, there are times when a landlord can make a claim and propose deposit deductions.

This can be due to the tenant breaching the terms of the tenancy agreement or failing to maintain the property. In fact, it’s commonly the latter, with cleaning and damage to the property the most popular reasons why deductions are made to the tenants’ deposit, according recent research by the Deposit Protection Service (DPS).

What are the top reasons landlords seek deposit deductions?

The organisation released statistics suggesting that, over the last year, 63% of landlords that entered the DPS Dispute Resolution Service cited cleaning amongst their reasons for a claim, while 53% said there was a need to repair damage caused by tenants.

Meanwhile, redecoration costs formed 37% of claims and rent arrears were the fourth most common reason for deductions (23%).

Other reasons for deductions cited by landlords included gardening (16%), replacing missing items (16%) and outstanding bills (4%).

Fortunately, around 98% of tenancies end without any dispute between landlord and tenant over the deposit, but in the rare occasion they disagree, access to a free, impartial dispute resolution process helps to ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

Most important cleaning tasks for landlords revealed

The research indicates the types of issues that many landlords can face when tenants move out and how many of the problems can be avoided when both tenant and landlord are aware of their responsibilities, keeping regular communication throughout the tenancy.

With this, the DPS has put forward its ‘top five’ cleaning tasks that landlords frequently have to undertake after tenants leave the property.

Cleaning the oven was at the top of the list, as many tenants typically fail to do this properly during the tenancy. Extractors came second, with renters failing to clean or replace filters being a very common issue.

Toilets came third on the list as many tenants forget (or don’t bother) to clean these. As for kitchen sinks, dirt and discolouration – such as food stains and water marks – tend to build up over time if not cleaned regularly, especially with light coloured sinks.

Skirting boards and light switches came fifth, as both often go overlooked and could end up looking undesirable if not wiped down often.

How to make the right claim for a deposit deduction

As a landlord, you naturally want a tenancy to be as hassle-free as possible. While this is usually the case, disputes can still happen, and when they do it’s important that you handle it in a professional manner, getting the details right to ensure the best outcome.

You will need to note what you can and cannot make a claim for. For example, costs related to the preparation of a deposit dispute, betterment and fair wear and tear cannot be claimed.

However, outstanding rent, damage to the property, missing items and general maintenance and repairs required to the property that isn’t caused by deterioration are all acceptable reasons to make a claim.

Gathering the correct evidence is key

Through everything, you want to ensure that you have all the necessary evidence to support any claim in a formal dispute. This means gathering documentation at the start of each tenancy and making sure it is detailed and thorough.

If you are involved in a dispute over the tenancy deposit, you need to ensure you have the tenancy agreement on hand as proof of evidence. You will also need to keep note of check-in and check-out reports. Any photos, if not embedded into the inventories, should be of good quality and digitally dated if used for evidence.

Emails and letters of correspondence, as well as quotations, invoices and receipts will also make solid evidence to support any claim.

All in all, due to the sensitive nature of tenancy disputes, you will need to take a reasonable approach and understand what should be done at every stage. It’s also important to do your ground work and maintain a clear paper trail.

Most importantly, having a good rapport with your tenant throughout the tenancy may help to avoid such disputes.

For more information on handling a tenancy, as well as finding out what else Parkgate Estates can do for you, please get in touch with us on 020 8940 2991.

Also, if you would like to know how much your rental property could be worth on the current market, you can request a free and instant online lettings valuation.