Are landlords making unfair deposit deductions?
The survey by digital inventory platform Imfuna found that on average tenants have 80 per cent of their deposits returned, with 16 per cent of the 1,000 tenants surveyed claiming that no reason at all was given for deductions.
For their part, landlords said that they most commonly make deductions as a result of outstanding rent (70 per cent), followed by cleaning costs (69 per cent). Damage to the structure of the house (45 per cent), to furniture (39 per cent) and to appliances (38 per cent) were the next most popular reasons for making deductions. Around seven per cent claimed to never have withheld money from a tenant’s deposit.
“The key to reducing the number of tenants who feel they have been treated unfairly is less about the reductions themselves, and more about the manner in which they are taken,” said Jax Kneppers, creator of Imfuna. “The inventory report has a fundamental role to play in this respect – if a transparent and robust report which combines standardised terms and corroborative data has been conducted at check in, the tenant will be far less likely to cry foul at check out.”
The survey also identified a largely positive sentiment from landlords with regard to the effectiveness of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes – 44 per cent said that the schemes had been helpful in recovering deposits and 33 per cent in resolving disputes. However, 23 per cent of the landlords surveyed said that the schemes had not been helpful in deposit recovery, and 26 per cent in dispute resolutions.
“On the surface, landlords appear to be grappling with the deposit dispute process, ” said Kneppers. “The fact is however that it’s the current inventory system which is unhelpful and is failing hopelessly to support landlords who are entering into disputes with a scarcity of robust evidence to support their case.”
Landlords who do experience disputes are most likely to attempt to persuade tenants to repair damage themselves (49 per cent) to reach a resolution. Meanwhile 80 per cent of landlords, 76 per cent of letting agents and 75 per cent of tenants agree photographic evidence in check-in and check-out reports reduces the likelihood of disputes between the tenant and landlord occurring in the first instance. However, clarity of pictures (46 per cent) and accusations of photo tampering (31 per cent) were two prominent reasons why photos were deemed to be potentially less helpful in preventing deposit disputes.
Useful web sites for more informationreal estate, renting
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter