Since the government introduced the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme in mid-2007, any dispute over the return of a tenant’s deposit, which cannot be settled, must be referred to the scheme under the new guidelines.
Failure to provide comprehensive evidence makes it much harder for landlords to enter a deposit dispute through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Inventory tips for landlords:
- Pay for a professional. Landlords who keep things simple and go down this route can claim the cost as a tax deduction.
- Describe the exact condition of items included in the inventory: even floors, walls and doors. Take pictures and videos to provide documentary evidence using a smartphone, for example.
- The devil is in the detail… a ‘perfect’ inventory must be comprehensive. For example, itemising ‘a door’ but failing to mention that it has coat hangers on one side or describing its condition is not enough.
- Inventories can be long documents, especially if they’re for big properties. Making it user friendly and easily navigable means that tenants are more likely to refer back to it.
- Define ‘acceptable wear and tear’: this could prevent unnecessary disputes.
- Timing is crucial: the inventory should be created when the property is ready to be let but before the tenant moves in. This can sometimes entail the inventory provider visiting the property the day before ‘check in’ to make sure that they record the property as it was at the time the tenant takes occupation.
Since Tenancy Deposit Schemes were introduced in 2007, the number of deposit disputes going to ADR has increased dramatically with over 1,000 tenancy deposit disputes a month.
Stephen Ludlow, Chairman of ludlowthompson, comments: “The need for a detailed, consistent and well documented inventory has never been more important.
“Often it’s the small details in an inventory that make a big difference in how effective it is at preventing disputes further down the line.”