Dos and Don’ts of Deposit Protection

Lettings agents must protect the interests of landlords, tenants, and their agencies, so understanding the basics of deposit protection is key and knowing the do’s and don’ts will help minimise disputes and reduce the risk of costly penalties.

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These essential practices outlined by Propertymark Industry Supplier, Tenancy Deposit Scheme, can make all the difference in maintaining harmonious landlord-tenant relationships and safeguarding business interests.

DON’T forget the fundamentals

It's important to register a deposit for a new tenancy within 30 days of receiving it to avoid any expensive penalties. There are two methods with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme: the free custodial scheme, where the landlord or agent pays the deposit to the deposit protection scheme, which holds it until the end of the tenancy, or the insured scheme, where the landlord keeps the deposit but pays a premium to the scheme.

Along with the deposit, the prescribed information (PI) to every ‘relevant person’ who has contributed to paying the deposit within 30 days will need to be provided. Supplying the PI too early, or too late and won't be valid, the Housing Act 2004 will be breached, which could result in legal action for compensation by the tenant.

DO keep an eye on dispute trends

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme tracks deposit dispute trends yearly. Cleaning claims topped the list in the latest report, followed by damage to fixtures and fittings.  Knowing the top causes of deposit disputes can help agents stay ahead of the curve, such as ensuring cleanliness is detailed within the inventory check-in reports.

DON’T forget the detail

Inventory reporting may require some extra time and effort, but the benefits are worth it. The more comprehensive and detailed the report is, the better it is for everyone involved. By capturing all the necessary information at check-in, TDS ensures that everyone's expectations are clear and well-defined.

Although tenants are not obligated to be present during property inspections, it is strongly advised. Being present allows tenants to address any doubts or concerns, ensure accurate documentation, voice complaints, resolve any issues and make the inspection process smooth. More guidance on inventory reporting, check-in and check-outs, can be found in TDS’s Guide to Inventories here.

DON’T skip mid-tenancy inspections

It is highly recommended to arrange mid-tenancy inspections and make allowances for them within the tenancy agreement. These inspections typically involve checking the general condition of the property, including the fixtures and fittings, to identify any issues such as leaks, damage, or wear and tear that may require attention. Apart from identifying problems, mid-tenancy inspections also offer an opportunity for tenants to address any concerns they may have.  By addressing these issues early on, they can be prevented from becoming bigger problems later.

DO try mid-tenancy mediation

Utilising TDS Group’s mid-tenancy mediation service, TDS Resolution (with the consent of the landlord) will facilitate a satisfactory resolution between landlords and tenants and the continuation of a tenancy. TDS Resolution helps with property standards and repairs, rent arrears, breach of tenancy terms and noise/anti-social behaviour (except serious anti-social activity).

DON’T skip end-of-tenancy reminders

For a smooth check-out process at the end of a tenancy, tenants need to be aware of the expectations of returning property. It is recommended agents remind tenants, as well as advise them to conduct a thorough review of the inventory provided at the start, with a reminder that the property needs to be returned to the same condition and level of cleanliness it was at the start.

Setting these expectations early and communicating them clearly will ensure both parties are satisfied with the condition of the property.

DO communicate before a dispute

It's possible to resolve many disputes without going to court by communicating with each other and discussing the complaint to see if an agreement can be reached. The TDS Deposit Deductions template has been found effective by many agents in clearly outlining the deductions to be made from the tenant's deposit, which can help in reaching an agreement. 

DON’T be unreasonable in your claim

Claims are often received for the full amount of a deposit, instead of asking for a fair deduction that works for all parties involved. In such cases, TDS adjudicators will award only what they consider to be a reasonable amount. Therefore, it's important to ensure that a claim for a professional end-of-tenancy clean is accurately priced, backed up by a valid invoice, and reflects the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy.

DO supply the right evidence

When encountering disputes, all the relevant information must be provided to ensure a fair outcome because decisions are based on what is received.

 Documents, such as the check-in and check-out inventories, condition reports, relevant invoices and receipts, and any photographs that can help support your case.

In the event of a rent arrears claim, a schedule listing all the payments made and what's outstanding must be provided. This information will help in the assessment of the validity of a claim, without them, it may be challenging to prove the validity of a claim. TDS’s guide has lots more information on dispute resolution guide

DO use the TDS chatbot to check if a claim is valid

Try the TDS Dispute Chatbot as it provides users with advice on how to present their dispute claim as effectively as possible.

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TDS: Easy tenancy deposit protection

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is the only not-for-profit, Government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme offering both FREE Custodial tenancy deposit protection and Insured tenancy deposit protection.