Smaller Numbers of Tenancies Are Ending with a Deposit Dispute

Sometimes, landlords and tenants cannot see eye-to-eye on certain issues; some tenants may not be willing to carry out their responsibilities in relation to taking care of the property while there are also landlords who often neglect tenants’ requests for deposit refunds. The latter is the most common of these issues. However, such cases have steadily declined.

In cases where tenants and landlords do not want to go to court, the two parties have the option to settle their issues through arbitration. Although this is the simpler, more convenient way of resolving tenant deposit issues, some tenants still prefer to file disputes against their landlords. Disputes are often challenging and time consuming, which is probably why for tenancies in Wales and England, only about 0.3% end up in actual disputes. 

The Dispute Service (TDS), in its Annual Review for 2020-2021, discussed the frequency of wins for tenants and landlords who file for disputes and the popular reasons for these issues. In addition, the review also revealed that there were more insurance scheme dispute applications for TDS, totalling  approximately 15,116 while its custodial schemes received around 1,660 for the 2020-2021 period. 

What these numbers show is a decrease in the volume of disputes in the past years, although the COVID-19 pandemic probably has a major role in this downward trend since many of them decided to put off moving to another home.  

Aside from the TDS annual review, housing minister Chris Pincher, also came out with a written reply to Labour Member of Parliament Apsana Begum in December 2020 that indicated there were over 6,600 insurance schemes while around 6,465 disputes were adjudicated via custodial schemes for six months in 2020, ending on September 30. 

These numbers were extracted from a total of over four million deposits that were filed with the three government-authorised tenancy deposit protection schemes. Additionally, the figures include only the disputes that were resolved using the ADR or Alternative Dispute Resolution process and resulted in adjudications.

What are tenancy deposit disputes?

Tenants who are about to commence their tenancies are required by law to pay a deposit to their landlords. At the end of the tenancy, if the landlords find proof of property damage or any similar issue in the property, they can deduct a particular amount from the deposit or use it entirely as payment of the damages. 

Deposits protection schemes keep tenants’ money safe so landlords cannot use them for their personal needs. In addition, deposits are a form of motivation for tenants so they will take care of the property and ensure it is in good condition at the end of the tenancy.

It is also the landlords’ responsibility to return the deposit to their tenants at the end of the tenancy if there are no issues that go against the agreement. 

Most of the disputes stemming from tenancy deposits have to do with tenants who do not receive their deposit after they leave the rented property. Another common issue is when a landlord has not protected the deposit, which they are supposed to do earlier in the tenancy period. Landlords are expected to register tenant deposits within 30 days after receiving the money from their renters. They are required to put these deposits in any of the three government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes: Tenancy Deposit Scheme, mydeposits, and Deposit Protection Service (DPS). 

Common reasons why tenants file for tenancy deposit protection claims

There are several reasons why tenants file for tenancy deposit claims, the most common ones are where their landlord is withholding the deposit due to:

  • Cleaning
  • Property damages
  • Redecoration
  • Rent arrears
  • Gardening

Landlords (and tenants) are expected to do a check-in and check-out of the property so they can keep an inventory of the items, furniture, fixtures, and if there are parts of the home that need repair. They’re also expected to communicate with tenants regarding cleaning responsibilities.

Filing a tenancy deposit claim

If your landlord has not returned your deposit within the 10 days that was allotted to them, you can file a tenancy deposit claim. Before doing so, however, it is important to make sure you have:

  • Followed all tenancy agreement terms
  • Kept the property damage-free and in the condition it was when your started your tenancy
  • Paid your bills and rent in full

If your landlord finds some damage in the property, they have the right to hold the deposit or deduct a particular amount from it (depending on the cost of the damage). If you have fulfilled your obligations as a tenant, and you find that your landlord has not protected your deposit, you can reach out to a team of expert tenancy deposit protection compensation solicitors who are dedicated to helping tenants like you get back their deposit.

Your landlord can pay a penalty amounting to one to three times more than your deposit amount. This money will then be given to you as compensation.

Working with the experienced solicitors at Tenancy Deposit Claims, who are committed to helping you go through the challenging claims process, will increase your chances of winning a tenancy compensation claim. You’re also guaranteed a no win, no fee agreement and no upfront costs. You’ll be working with a legal team that’s authorised and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority as well.

Kai Alana

The author Kai Alana