A Hearthstone guide to deposit disputes.
Make sure you outline what you can claim for.
In the event of deposit disputes; the circumstances where the deposit can be withheld should be clearly explained in the
tenancy agreement. Make sure the agreement is signed by both you and your tenant at the start of the tenancy. A good tenancy
agreement will always ensure that the terms are fair and reasonable.
In a broad sense you can claim deposit deductions for:
- Outstanding rent.
- General Maintenance.
- Repairs and damage to the property beyond fair wear and tear.
What is evidence? how is it used?
Hearthstone uses the Deposit protection service to secure all of the tenants deposit money. The DPS is a government approved
scheme with an independent arbitration service. The service is designed to help resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.
The law is clear, deposits belong to the tenant’s and they can expect it back at the end of the tenancy. This means you need to provide
evidence to support your claim to keeping all/part of the deposit money. An independent adjudicator will review all of the evidence and
make a decision based on what’s been provided.
For example, it’s up to you as the landlord to prove that there is a valid reason for a carpet clean because of a wine stain. Evidence you
provide should include a check in inventory and a comparable check out report that details the stain preferably with photographs to
visualise it. Cleaning receipts and quotes from multiple other cleaners that prove what you paid, and that your claim on the deposit are
both fair and proportionate.
Understand what you can’t claim for
In the event of deposit disputes, there are certain things you can’t claim for, these include:
- More than the deposit amount. The DPS arbitration system is limited to resolving disputes up to the protected deposit amount. If you want to claim more to cover loses then you need to use the Courts.
- Costs related to the preparation of a dispute. It’s not possible to claim for any time you spend gathering and submitting evidence
to the dispute process.
- Betterment. You can only claim for an amount that would put the property back in the same, and not better condition than it was
- Fair wear and tear. You must take into account the length of the tenancy, the age and quality of items/areas, its condition at the
start and the number and type of occupants.
Tips on avoiding common errors
In some instances landlords can lose deposit disputes due to a lack of robust and relevant evidence. Make sure you provide detail and an explanation that establishes the breach of contract and shows the monetary loss. To be successful make sure you avoid these common
- Failure to produce comparative inventories.
- Failure to create robust inventories.
- Invoices presented which are not sufficiently detailed to show the work undertaken; or are not evidently on a like for like basis.
- Failure to understand, and make allowance for, betterment and fair wear and tear.