As a tenant, the law already falls in your favour when it comes to tenancy deposit disputes. If your Landlord wishes to make deductions from your deposit, it is their responsibility to prove that you broke the tenancy agreement. That said, many tenants end up losing money because they don’t know how best to resolve the dispute and they don’t know when to seek legal advice. Use these top tips to keep the dispute process stress-free and get your money back as quickly as possible.
Take an Inventory
The best way to resolve a dispute is to prevent it in the first place. Planning ahead and keeping an up to date record of the condition of the property and any of the Landlord’s furniture when moving in and moving out can help avoid disputes. A thorough, properly completed inventory provides a piece of evidence which will be incredibly valuable if a dispute goes to arbitration or court. A good inventory will be checked and signed by both landlord and tenant, and it is especially convincing when supported by photo or video evidence. It is also advised that you arrange to attend a ‘check out’ inspection when moving out, so that you and your landlord can agree on the condition of the property.
Keep a Record of Communication and Documents
Remember when you moved in you signed a big stack of paperwork? It’s likely that you will need all of those documents if there is a dispute, so keep them safe. If a dispute goes to court or mediation, it will also be helpful to have a record of any emails or letters sent between both parties. An adjudicator might view a case more favourably if there has been a reasonable attempt to resolve the dispute privately. Sometimes a record of communication also provides evidence that your landlord has failed to meet their responsibilities, so it could support your claim to have emails saved.
Use Adjudication Services through Your Deposit Protection Scheme
All money taken as a deposit for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy in England and Wales which started after 6th April 2007 must be held in a deposit protection scheme. These schemes aim to minimise the amount of cases which go to court, and make sure you get your money back when you move out of the property. There are three government approved schemes – The Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits and The Tenancy Deposit Scheme – and they each offer a dispute resolution facility. Mediation through these services is free of charge, and enables disputes to be resolved faster, saving time, money and stress. It is not compulsory to use the arbitration services provided by these schemes, but it is often the best way to resolve a dispute.
Be Honest About The Condition of the Property
At the end of the day, it’s important to be honest and realistic. ‘Fair wear and tear’ might be applicable in some cases, but if you know that the damage is your fault, it’s better to be honest about it. Continuing to dispute charges for which you are responsible will extend the process of claiming your money back. In some cases, you may be able to reach a compromise without taking legal action by accepting some of the deductions. If the tenancy agreement obliged you to clean the property before moving out, and you didn’t clean it, it would be better to just accept the charge and move on.
Renting property can be a stressful experience, especially when it comes to getting your deposit back. Going to court to resolve such disputes should always be treated as a last resort, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek legal advice. A specialist solicitor will be able to advise you on the next steps for your case and answer any questions you have about getting your deposit back. Use LawOn to regain control over your life with on-demand legal advice.