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Welcome to Day 5 of "Lifecycle of a Deposit" Week, powered by TDS, with content supplied by the TDS team. Over the past week, we have been charting the lifecycle of a tenant's deposit - from pre-tenancy to end of tenancy.In our week-long series of articles about tenancy deposits, we’ve covered the steps that should be taken at the beginning as well as during a tenancy. Today, Michael Hill, Adjudicator at Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), outlines the requirements of landlords and agents at the end of a tenancy.Once a tenant has given notice to leave a tenancy, there are steps the landlord or letting agent could take in preparation for the end of the tenancy and theallocation of the tenancy deposit. Taking the time to complete these key documents properly at the end of the tenancy make the process of returning the deposit as smooth as possible.TDS has produced a useful End of Tenancy Guide which gives the latest advice on what to do when a tenant is due to move out of a property, in particular, highlighting the key points to address before, during, and after a check-out inspection.
The guide also provides advice on the best approach for negotiating the return of the deposit.
Some landlords and agents offer their tenant the opportunity for a pre-check-out inspection prior to the tenancy coming to an end. This inspection can provide landlords and agents the chance to raise the tenants awareness of areas of the property that may require attention to avoid deposit deductions. This advanced warning allows the tenants time to ‘make good’ any areas of concern before tenancy end and therefore help to overcome any disputes before the tenants move out.
Ahead of the tenant vacating the property, a final inspection needs to be arranged, this document will be a snapshot of the contents, condition and cleanliness of the property at tenancy end and allow a direct comparison to the inventory that was carried out before the tenancy commenced. You can read more about the check-in/inventory report and tips to get it right in our first article, Ducking pre-tenancy deposit responsibility can land you with a big bill. After the check-out inspection, landlords should produce a detailed check-out report that covers the condition and cleanliness of the property and its contents includingthe garden, any missing items and any evidence of incidents where you suspect the tenancy agreement has been broken. This check-out inspection report should be compared to the inventory/check-in that was produced prior to the tenancy commencing.You will also need to have an updated inventory at check-out which describes the condition and cleanliness of the property at the end of the tenancy. Without this document, it will be difficult to demonstrate that there has been a deterioration in the cleanliness and/or condition of the property at the end of the tenancy. It’s good practice to evidence your reports with photographs and keep the language straightforward.
Where the terms of the tenancy agreement have been broken, deductions from the deposit can be claimed for the cost of reinstating the property to the standards of the check-in/inventory report, including professional and other third party costs.
At TDS, we have produced a Deposit Deductions Template as a way of outlining any proposed deductions from the tenancy deposit. This template was createdto help landlords and agents clearly set out, to tenants, the details of any proposed deductions from the deposit. There is also a Guide to the Deductions Template which directs landlords and agents about how to get the most out of this document.
Once you have identified and evidenced any deductions, use this template to illustrate the deductions to the tenant allowing for a comprehensive conversation of the reasons for the deductions. A conversation may make it easier to answer questions and clear up any misunderstandings. A personal approach at this stage can also make it easier to reach an agreement.
After the tenancy ends, make sure you advise the tenant as quickly as possible whether you are proposing any deductions from the deposit. If the deposit is protected by TDS’ Insured scheme, any balance that is not being disputed must be returned within 10 days. Under the TDS’ Custodial scheme the deposit is held until either party requests that the funds are repaid.
In the Insured Scheme, an agent, landlord or tenant can raise a dispute (TDS Direct would only allow for tenants to raise a dispute). In the Custodial Scheme either the member or the tenant can raise a repayment request and action the ADR process. Non-member landlords would not be able to instigate this process.
In the Insured scheme, disputes must be raised within three months of the end of the tenancy. In the Custodial scheme, there is no time limit.
In both Insured and Custodial schemes, TDS will want to see that you and the tenant have made reasonable efforts to agree the return of the deposit first. Please note that TDS can only adjudicate over the deposit, anyother tenancy disputes/claims may have to be resolved in court.
It may seem simple but amongst all the paperwork it can be easy to forget the simple things such as; asking for keys, fobs and parking permits to be returned – these should alos be clearly listed in the inventory/check-in reports. You also need a forwarding address and up-to-date contact detailsfor the tenant to facilitate the return of the deposit and ensure that any utility accounts are paid in full and closed, as per the tenancy agreement.
If you are renting a property, you should read-up on your responsibilities in terms of tenancy deposits to make sure that you stay on the right side of the law. Keep an eye on our website and social media channels where we regularly publish new guides and information. ______________________________The final content instalment tomorrow will cover how to think like an Adjudicator to resolve disputes.Catch up:Monday - Launch of "Lifecycle of a Deposit" Week!Tuesday - Pre-tenancy deposit responsibility - tipsWednesday - 3 steps to protect a deposit correctlyThursday - How changes to a tenancy affect the depositSaturday - How to think like an Adjudicator to solve disputesThank you to TDS for supporting landlord education and Property Tribes.If you would like to take advantage of the off-line training offered by TDS, you can find a list of workshops >>> here.SEE ALSO - End of tenancy cleaning - how clean is clean?UP NEXT - Tenancy Deposit Scheme: Custodial or insured?DON'T MISS - Cleaning the property at the end of tenancyNOW WATCH:
Vanessa Warwick Landlord and Co-Founder of PropertyTribes.com **If you have got value from Property Tribes, find out how you can support it in remaining a free to use community resource**