Posted on Sunday, November 27, 2016
Harrogate property consultancy FSS has seen disputes over tenancy deposits fall at a time when national figures show claims are at an all time high.
New figures released by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme show that in 2015-16 disputes between landlords and tenants over deposits were at their highest ever level.
More than half of deposit disputes involve cleaning with damaged fixtures and fittings and decoration also being high on the list.
However, FSS has bucked the national trend, reporting a reduction in the number of disputes over the past 12 months.
Residential lettings manager Sarah Johnston said detailed inventories and a proactive approach to property management had led to a downward trend in the number of disputes.
“We typically handle more than 20 tenancy checkouts every month but, thanks to the development of a number of initiatives, disputes are becoming increasingly rare,” said Sarah.
“One of the biggest factors in driving down our tenancy deposit dispute rate is the detailed inventory we carry out at the start of a tenancy, which includes photography to accurately record the condition of the property and its fixtures and fittings,” she explained.
“The fact that we are proactive agents, particularly when we are managing the property on behalf of the landlord, means we make sure repairs and renovations are carried out throughout the tenancy rather than at the end.
“This not only keeps the property in good order, it also encourages tenants to take more care of the premises and report faults and damage immediately rather than leaving things to deteriorate.”
Legally, property firms have to register a tenant’s deposit with a Tenancy Deposit Scheme for the duration of the tenancy. Problems only arise if the landlord or agent disagree with the tenant over how much of the deposit should be returned when the tenant leaves.
“A lot of disputes could be avoided if agents and landlords implemented more detailed inventories at the outset and I have been shocked at the vagueness of some of the checklists being used by other property firms,” said Sarah.
The statistics from the TDS show that over 53% of tenancy disputes were submitted by landlords or agents compared to almost 47% being raised by tenants. The average amount in dispute in 2015-16 was £863.40.
“We are keen to avoid tenancy deposit disputes wherever possible which is why FSS spends extra time on checks at the start of a tenancy.
“We are delighted that our approach is leading to a reduction in the number of disputes and a better experience for both tenants and landlords.”