Did you know, when it comes to deposit disputes, we’re more likely to award 100% of the claim amount to the landlord than any other deposit protection provider?
Almost 20% of disputed claims are awarded in full to landlords, but as a result of research we carried out last year, we know that many more claims could be successful with the right preparation.
However, because research we carried out last year, we know that many more claims could have been successful with the right preparation.
On the face of it, Adjudication sounds simple and can be broken down into these four steps. However, there is a lot more to each step than meets the eye.
|You submit your evidence in support of your claim and your tenants provide their own evidence supporting their position. We won’t request specific items of evidence so make sure you send everything relevant to your claim.|
|We send details of the claim and the supporting evidence from all parties to an independent, impartial adjudicator.|
|The adjudicator reviews the claim and evidence and decides how the deposit will be repaid.|
|We send the adjudicator’s decision to both you and your tenants.|
So why do some landlord claims fail?
Here are some of the most common reasons we’ve identified that lead to unsuccessful disputes:
- Not providing a full breakdown of claims at the start of the dispute process
- Lack of appropriate evidence supporting the claim
- Not submitting evidence correctly, or within allowed timescales
- Not accounting for fair wear and tear
- Claiming for betterment – meaning the property would be in a better state than it was at the start of the tenancy
- Claiming against unfair terms in the contract (e.g., end of tenancy cleaning must be done by a professional cleaner)
How to give your disputes the best chance of success
How can you avoid these common pitfalls? Follow these tips to ensure your claims are legitimate and successful. If you want to read more about each point, follow the links to our dispute learning centre.
Make your evidence clear
The deposit belongs to the tenant and is only held for safekeeping by us, so for a successful dispute outcome, you’ll need to show the adjudicator good evidence to support your claim. It’s essential that your evidence is clear and easy for the adjudicator to understand and interpret. Videos, sharp and in focus, time stamped photos and thorough check-in and check-out reports are all great evidence.
Read more about what makes good evidence
Be prepared from the start
Only 3.2% of all tenancies end up needing to resort to dispute resolution – but being prepared can help you avoid one altogether! A thorough check-in report and inventory that clearly sets out the condition of the property is essential. This should be agreed with the tenants, including them reading and signing it and every tenant owning a copy.
A valid tenancy agreement is also an essential piece of evidence. Your tenancy agreement should set out everything you want your tenants to do in respect of upkeep of the property and garden – if you have one. Let them know you expect them to report problems, the exact date they need to pay rent, how long the tenancy will last duration and who is allowed in the property, including pets! A signed tenancy agreement will be needed if you get into a dispute.
Keep to strict timescales
Timing is crucial. The tenant’s responsibility for your claim could be in doubt if you allow time to pass between the end of the tenancy and the completion of the check-out report. Check-out should take place as soon as possible after the tenant has returned the keys, ideally as part of the key return process. The longer you leave it, the more doubt that can arise that any problems were the tenant’s responsibility. Try to make sure the tenant attends the check-out process so you can both agree on the condition of the property and compare this against the condition recorded in the check-in report.
Read about gathering your evidence
Some claims fail because the deductions the landlord has requested are unreasonable in the eyes of the law. Our adjudicators must account for fair wear and tear. This is defined as ‘deterioration in condition of the property due to reasonable use’. Adjudicators can’t make awards for betterment, which means your claim would make your property even better than it was at the start of the tenancy. Your claims also must be reasonable, for example: you can’t insist your tenant hires professional cleaners to clean a property to the required standard as the tenants may be very capable of doing this themselves.
Brush up on your knowledge
Last year we identified that only 3% of landlords were able to correctly identify the correct descriptions for a set of common dispute terms. A simple misunderstanding can be the difference between the success and failure of your claim - so it can pay to know the lingo.
Read about the most commonly misunderstood dispute terms
Make sure you know how to submit your claim
You’ve done the hard work of gathering your evidence and building your case but disputes can still fail because a vital piece of evidence is missing, or our procedures haven’t been followed. We want to make sure genuine claims are successful. Make sure you dot the i’s and cross the t’s so your hard work doesn’t go to waste.
Become a disputes expert with our free training and support
As well as the information on our website, you can take advantage of more interactive learning on our website. Check out our ‘Be the adjudicator’ case studies, where you can test your knowledge with real life dispute and see how adjudicator made a decision and why.