Here’s What No One Tells You About Tenancy Deposit Scheme Dispute
Asktenants.co.uk is a website where tenants rate and review their landlord and rental property. Out of thousands of properties reviewed, more than a third of the tenants said that their tenancy deposit refund process was unfair. Only handful of tenants found time and motivation to raise a Tenancy Deposit Scheme Dispute. Majority of tenants who raised a tenancy deposit scheme dispute were successful in reducing or avoiding deductions all together.
Most tenants are unaware of how the Tenancy Deposit scheme dispute process works. Many feel it’s not worth to get into a dispute process for relatively small amounts and contentious issues like “End of tenancy cleaning deductions”. This blog will explain what the tenancy deposit scheme dispute process is and how it works in Q&A format.
Is it mandatory for Landlord to protect my tenancy deposit scheme ?
Yes, Landlord must protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it. There is choice of government backed schemes to use for deposit protection. Landlord or estate agent must inform you about which scheme your deposit is protected with. The tenant has redress through the courts if a landlord does not protect their deposit, and can be awarded up to 3 times the value of the deposit.
In how many days should Landlord refund by tenancy deposit?
Your tenancy deposit should usually be refunded within 10 days after the end of tenancy if you are an assured shorthold tenant. Most private renters have this type of tenancy agreement. If a landlord wants to make a deduction he/she should write to the tenant explaining the reasons of deductions and submit supporting evidence. The undisputed amount is refunded and disputed amount is held with deposit protection scheme. Deposit should not be deducted for normal wear at tear expected in the duration of tenancy. Read our blog (Tenancy Deposit Disputes) for more details on deductions from deposits.
Challenging deductions from tenancy deposit by landlord?
Tenant has an option to raise a tenancy deposit protection scheme dispute if they cannot reach an agreement with landlord on deductions. If you are unaware of which scheme is your tenancy deposit protected, speak to your landlord or estate agent if it’s a managed property. Tenancy deposit protection schemes offer free alternate dispute resolution service (ADR). An adjudicator is assigned to each case and the decision is impartial and evidence based. The decision of adjudicator is final and cannot be challenged. The service can only be used if both tenant and landlord agree.
If landlord or tenant are unwilling to use the service the dispute needs to resolved through court. The onus is on the party wishing to use the courts to issue court proceedings. If court proceedings have not been issued with a court within six months of the dispute being accepted then scheme may pay the disputed deposit amount to the other party.
Tenants generally have three months from the date you vacate the property to raise a deposit dispute.
How does the tenancy dispute resolution service work?
Tenancy deposit scheme dispute resolution is a 5 step process.
Step 1 Initiation –
Dispute is initiated when a tenant notifies the scheme that he/she wishes to dispute the tenancy deposit deduction and both and landlord and tenant agree with dispute resolution service offered by the scheme to adjudicate the dispute.
Step 2 Landlord Evidence –
Landlord will be asked to submit a case and provide evidence to support their claim to the tenancy deposit deductions. This should include a tenancy agreement, check in/out reports, photographs and any documents relevant to the dispute that support the claim. The onus of providing evidence is with landlord as tenancy deposit is an asset of the tenant.
They have 14 days to provide evidence.
Step 3 Tenant’s Response –
Tenant will be given the opportunity to review the dispute case and counter landlord’s claim. Tenants are also invited to submit own evidence in support example of evidence can be images, email exchange with landlords/agents, text messages copy or any other evidence which can help you counter the tenancy deposit deduction claim. It’s vital to keep any communication with landlord and estate agents in writing as it can be a key evidence at this stage.
Tenants have 14 days to act.
Step 4 Review the case –
Landlord will be given another opportunity to view the dispute case and submit further comment for the adjudicator to review.
They have 7 days to provide comments.
Step 5 Adjudication decision –
The case is reviewed by an independent adjudicator.
Tenant and landlord will be notified with a full decision. The money will then be distributed as per the decision. It takes 28 days to make a decision.
Inventory report and communicating with Landlord.
The tenancy inventory is crucial for resolving deposit disputes. It thoroughly documents the state of the property before the tenant comes into occupation. When the tenancy ends, the same inventory check is issued once more. When the two reports are compared, it’s easy to see how the condition of the property has changed. It is the most vital evidence to assign which damages are caused by the tenant.
Always make sure you attend the inventory report inspections. Otherwise, you cannot correct any issues that might lead to an unfair tenancy deposit deduction. If you can, try and make your own, detailed version of the report. Complete it with high quality photograph of questionable areas and be proactive communicating with the landlord. Always use written communication like email to communicate with landlord or agent. If you have used verbal communication, follow it up with an email.
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