It is encouraging to note that the number of deposit disputes has dropped, but with the average tenancy deposit now at over £1,000 this still means that around £27m of deposits is being held in disputes.
I thought it would be useful to take a look at how important inventories are in managing deposit disputes.
The deposit is obviously taken as security from the tenant at the time of moving in to protect the landlord against damage, for any additional cleaning that is required or to cover rent arrears. At the time of the tenant moving on, a decision is made on what deposit is to be returned based on any additional costs the landlord is facing or any outstanding rent that is owed.
In the main these are settled easily and quickly. However, when the tenant disputes the decision, it is important to have clear evidence in proving how the tenant has been in breach of the tenancy agreement and the landlord has incurred loss as a result. It is down to the landlord or their agent to provide this proof and the inventory is the key way to do this.
Inventories are an established way of proving the condition of the property at the start of any tenancy, as well as any contents included. Both parties will agree to this report which is carried out when a tenant moves in and provides a comprehensive record which is then used at the time the tenant moves out.
Agents or landlords can compile the inventory themselves, and at Pennington we provide this as part of our fully managed service as well as an extra service for our letting and rent and let only options. For landlords who prefer to completely manage their property themselves we also carry out inventories through our Pick and Mix service on an as-required basis.
An inventory at check in details the condition of the property in a comprehensive report, down to information on the decoration, any markings, professional cleaning, exterior condition and so on. Photographs are useful in supporting the inventory, as well as any receipts or invoices for cleaning or new appliances for example. It is a record that is agreed by all parties and therefore vital for checking against at the time the tenant leaves the property and often means that parties can readily agree to any deposit deductions that are needed and these are seen as fair.
Fortunately, disputes are generally rare in managed properties due to the inventory, as well as ongoing communication, regular inspections and most tenancies end without any issues, but it is important when there is a problem that a process is gone through to ensure a fair outcome is achieved.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me or the team at Pennington if you would like any further advice or help with inventories or anything else on the local property market.