New data has indicated that more landlords and agents are being awarded 100% of disputed amounts at adjudications than tenants. This is the first time this has happened since the inception of the tenant deposit schemes in 2007.
Figures from the TDS show that last year, 19.8% of all disputes raised by landlords or letting agents resulted in a 100% pay-out to them. 19.2% of all disputes made by tenants resulted in them receiving a full pay-out. The remaining 61% of cases saw the disputed money shared between the parties.
In 2014, 20.25% of total disputes raised by tenants saw them received a full pay-out, in comparison to 18.21% to landlords and agents. In previous years, tenants have been awarded the total deposit more often the landlords and letting agents.
Jax Kneppers, Founder and CEO of Imfuna, suggests that these results are a sign that landlords and letting agents are giving more documented information at adjudications. He notes that, ‘for the first time, landlords and agents are now more successful than tenants at winning 100% of deposits. This is a significant achievement-an 8.5% increase year on year.’
Mr Kneppers went on to say, ‘more and more landlords and agents are recognising the power of digital professional inventories and mid-term inspections and this is why the balance is starting to shift. Many landlords and agents are ensuring that the condition of the property is fully recorded at the start of the tenancy, with a comprehensive inventory, along with a thorough check-in and check-out report.’
‘Historically, many tenant disputes have gone in favour of tenants, as there was simply not enough evidence to support the landlord or agent’s damage claim. The most common mistake in most inventories is the lack of detail. Often there is not enough appropriate photographs and any accompanying description to show the condition of the property and its contents. For example, many landlords and agents fail to record the condition of sinks and bathroom fittings, as well skirting, doors, floor coverings and kitchen units. If an inventory is not a professional and thorough report on the property, then it is not worth the paper it is written on,’ he continued.
More deposit disputes going way of landlords
Importance of inventories
Inventories are a crucial part of the dispute process and provide information for landlords and tenants about the condition of a property. As Knepper notes, ‘inventory reports should contain a full description of the condition of the property, noting detail on every aspect of damage and its location at the start of a tenancy. Good photographs provide vital evidence and should be of a high quality when printed up to A4 or A3 size, so that any damage can be clearly seen.’
Concluding, Knepper warns, ‘Unless landlords and agents have a water-tight inventory, they are at risk of disputes and expensive repair bills. Our research shows that landlords and agents who have switched from analogue to digital inventories, have seen their tenant deposit disputes drop by more than 300% and their success rate at adjudications improve by an average of 75%.’