Deposit disputes can arise at the end of the tenancy between the landlord and tenant. The key to minimising these is to have a clearly defined Check In report at the start of the tenancy followed by a Check Out report at the end.
CHECK IN REPORT
· should contain a detailed Inventory of the contents of the property
· should have a Schedule of Condition which documents the condition of the contents of the property both in terms of any damage and the level of cleanliness
· there should be photographic evidence to back up the findings of the report
· the tenant should be given a copy of the report and agreement should be sought from the tenant to get the report signed off by them
CHECK OUT REPORT
· an inspection should be carried out to check the property at the end of the tenancy against the Check In Report
· a report should be produced confirming the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy
· any unacceptable changes should be documented, allowing for fair wear and tear. This may include items from the inventory damaged or missing, damage to the property itself or the cleanliness of the property
· photographic evidence should again be included to back up the details of the report
Although these reports are not a legal requirement, they are considered best practice to help avoid any disputes which may arise in relation to deposit claims or provide vital evidence to back up these claims. When disputes arise it is invaluable to have the independent resolution service offered by the tenancy deposit schemes to review the claim and make a decision.
Whilst the most common types of claim are in relation to cleaning, damage and rent arrears, there can be more unusual types of claim such as:
· Redecoration - The tenant may have redecorated the property themselves without prior permission and even drastically changed the colour scheme. The landlord may wish to claim against the deposit to rectify this and restore the property to its previous condition.
· Rent Due – With the new Private Residential Tenancy, the tenant can serve 28 days’ notice to leave at any time during the month. Therefore there may be a partial rental payment due for the remainder of the duration of the tenancy after the period covered by the normal monthly payment. A landlord may therefore wish to claim this amount against the deposit if the tenant has not made arrangements to also pay this.
· Pest Control – This can be a grey area for tenancies. If there is an infestation at the start of the tenancy then arguably the onus is on the landlord to resolve this. During the tenancy, if an issue arises it could be the tenant’s responsibility assuming it does not affect the habitability of the property. Therefore at the end of the tenancy if there are pest control issues which did not exist at the start of the tenancy, the landlord may wish to make a claim against the deposit to deal with this.
It is clear that having good Check In and Check Out procedures and defining the tenant’s responsibilities clearly in their tenancy agreement should help to avoid disputes relating to the deposit. Paris Steele Property Management can offer expert assistance with these procedures and in the resolution of deposit disputes.