Most common reasons for landlords docking tenant deposits revealed…

While most tenants get their full deposits back at the end of their tenancies without a hitch, sometimes landlords are forced to make deductions when they regain the keys.

The Deposit Protection Service (DPS), which is one of the three government-approved vehicles that UK landlords can use to store their tenants’ deposits under an assured shorthold tenancy, has released new data revealing the top causes for landlords shaving money off the deposits they return to their tenants.

The figures showed that paying for cleaning costs was the top reason cited for deposit deductions, affecting 63% of landlords who had entered the DPS’ Dispute Resolution Service over the past year. A further 53% said that they needed to deduct money in order to pay for damage caused by tenants.

Most landlords have good relationships with tenants

Tenancies ending in dispute between the landlord and the tenant are still in a minority in the UK, with 98% of tenancies ending without the need to appeal for a deposit reduction, according to Julian Foster, managing director of the DPS.

He added: “Many of the problems that lead to deductions can be avoided when both tenant and landlord are aware of their responsibilities and stay in regular communication throughout the tenancy.”

Redecoration was the next most common reason for a tenant losing some of their deposit, cited by 37% of landlords, followed by rent arrears for 23%, gardening costs for 16%, replacing missing items for 16%, and paying outstanding bills for 4%.

Cleaning ovens and toilets…

The DPS also looked at what the most common cleaning tasks at the end of tenancies were, revealing that ovens were the most problematic.

Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes, head of adjudication, commented: “I’m always amazed how many tenants have lived in a property for maybe a year or so but say they have ‘never’ used the ovens.”

After ovens was extractor fans, which are often left dirty and needing their filters replaced, while dirty toilets, kitchen sinks, and skirting boards and light switches were also often overlooked by tenants leaving a property.

What landlords can do

Communication is key between landlords and tenants in order to avoid these kinds of disputes, and it should be made very clear from the outset what is expected from tenants at the end of their tenancies. At the start of a tenancy, landlords or agents should ensure that a comprehensive inventory documenting the property’s condition is carried out and issued to the tenant, who will be required to sign the document and agree to return the property in the same state as it was taken on.

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