Recent statistics show that tenants are more likely to win in deposit disputes

According to the Tenant Deposit Scheme Annual Review 2014, since 2007 – when tenant deposit schemes were first introduced by the Government – more tenants than landlords have been awarded 100 per cent of any disputed deposit amount at adjudications.

The figures reveal that 20.25 per cent of tenants have been awarded the whole dispute amount over the last eight years, compared with just 18.21 per cent of landlords.

This is particularly important because the amounts being disputed have also risen from an average £736 (during the 2010/11 financial year) to £860 in the 2013/14 financial year, meaning that landlords are at risk of losing more money than ever before.

The most effective way for landlords to protect themselves from unfair deposit disputes remains to be the compilation of detailed inventories for each property they let out, with full breakdowns of information to cover check-in and check-out of a property.

Landlords should also ensure that tenants carefully check and sign their agreement, containing the inventory, when they check-in.

It is essential that landlords keep copies of all correspondence with a tenant as this can also be used as additional evidence if a dispute should arise.

Cleaning issues remain the most common reason for a dispute and were cited in 53 per cent of all recorded cases; however, while the number of gardening disputes were contained in a comparatively low 14 per cent of cases, this represents a rise of three per cent since 2011.

Landlords are advised to account for the state of a property’s garden and outside areas when compiling inventories as these areas can often be overlooked.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.