Tenancy Disputes favouring Landlords

Tenancy Disputes favouring Landlords

Research now shows for the first time since the start of the tenant deposit schemes in 2007 more landlords and agents are being awarded 100% of the disputed deposit amount at adjudications than the tenants are.

The TDS Yearly Review 2015 shows that 19.8% of the disputes raised by landlords and or agents resulted in 100% pay outs, while 19.2% of the disputes raised resulted in 100% pay outs to tenants. The remaining 61% of cases saw the disputed money split between the parties.

Compared with 2014 when 20.25% of the disputes raised by tenants resulted in 100% payouts to them, whilst 18.21% to landlords and agents.

Tenants had always been awarded the full deposit more so than their landlords and or agents. Adjudicators do not decide in favour of one side or the other but many landlords and agents believe the Courts are biased towards their tenants.

According to Jax Kneppers, chief executive officer of Imfuna, these results are a sign that the landlords and agents are presenting better documented evidence at adjudications.

‘For the first time, landlords and agents are now more successful than tenants at winning 100% of deposits. This is a significant achievement, an 8.5% increase year on year,’ he said.

‘More and more landlords and agents are recognising the power of digital professional inventories and mid-term inspections and this is why the balance is starting to shift. Many landlords and agents are ensuring that the condition of the property is fully recorded at the start of the tenancy, with a comprehensive inventory, along with a thorough check-in and check-out report,’ he explained.

He also pointed out that historically many tenant disputes have gone in favour of tenants, as there was simply not enough evidence to support the landlord or agent’s damage claim and the most common mistake in most inventories is the lack of detail.

Often there is not enough appropriate photographs and any accompanying description to show the condition of the property and its contents. For example, many landlords and agents fail to record the condition of sinks and bathroom fittings, as well skirting, doors, floor coverings and kitchen units. If an inventory is not a professional and thorough report on the property, then it is not worth the paper it is written on.

Inventory reports really need to be third party, impartial and unbias whilst containing a full description of the condition of the property, noting detail on every aspect of damage and its location at the start of a tenancy. Digital photographs provide vital evidence and need to be of a high quality when printed up to A4 or A3 size, so that any damage can be identified.

‘Unless landlords and agents have a water tight inventory, they are at risk of disputes and expensive repair bills. Our research shows that landlords and agents who have switched from analogue to digital inventories, have seen their tenant deposit disputes drop by more than 300% and their success rate at adjudications improve by an average of 75%,’ he added.