Q. Following the end of the tenancy and my tenants vacating I am now trying to deal with the deposit release. Sadly there are a number of dilapidations noted on the check out, some I have been willing to let go as fair wear and tear but the other more serious damage I am looking to have repaired and deduct the cost from their deposit. However having approached my tenants they are flatly refusing to agree any deductions and demanding that I transfer their deposit back. What are my next steps, I’ve never had an issue like this before?
A. Deposit returns can be fraught especially as tenants often can’t see the wood for the trees as they fiercely want to protect their funds and want as much if not all returned as quickly as possible. On the flip side Landlords like yourself with a number of dilapidations to address can also feel equally fraught and are naturally looking to have those put right at the tenants cost. In the first instance communication between yourself and the tenant is a priority. If they are fighting with you over this the best next step is to take a contractor into the property for a walk through. Get them to provide you with a written estimate on headed paper that you can then forward on to the tenant. Sometimes once a tenant sees an estimate from a third party they will agree and things can be settled that way. If however, after providing them with the estimate they are still not agreeable then you only have one further option and that is to refer it over to your Deposit Protection Scheme. There are three government approved schemes and all of these are there to provide fair adjudication when a solution cannot be reached between a landlord and their tenant. The deposit protection scheme will require you to send over all the documents in order for them to make a fair appraisal of the situation, namely the original Inventory taken on check in, the check-out report and any estimates for work needed to repair the issues. They will also want to see proof that you have tried your very best to settle the issue with the tenant yourself prior to handing it over to the scheme adjudicator. So a copy of an email trail between you would be perfect. Its situations like this that led the government to introduce the Deposit Protection Schemes, their decision will be final but fair towards both parties.
For more information on the governments recommended Deposit Protection Schemes go to: www.gov.uk