How to avoid deposit despair in a few easy to follow steps

At Helmores, my team takes great pride in the way we treat both landlords and tenants. Our approach to both parties helps maintain a very low number of issues related to deposits when a tenancy ends.

Here are seven steps I’d recommend that will go a long way to ensuring neither party will be feeling despair when it comes to deposits:

1. Landlords – have the property professionally cleaned by a reputable professional cleaning firm before the tenancy starts.  Not only is this a nice way to handover the property, but it is unambiguous and the tenant must return it in the same way at the end of the tenancy.

2. Have a professional inventory drawn up by a reputable provider and make sure to include the check-in and check-out service.  In most cases this will remove the possibility for argument and can equally protect both landlord and tenant.  Landlords: Note that without a full and detailed inventory/check-in/check-out report the tenancy deposit schemes are unlikely to find in your favour in the event that you subsequently bring a claim against a tenant’s deposit. A list on a piece of paper is simply not good enough.

3. Keep the inventory updated.  As time passes by, the landlord may well be replacing things (a new washing machine, for example).  Or improvements may be made (a new bathroom, for example).  Attach a copy of the invoice for such items to the inventory.  That way, the inventory clerk will know what to look for at the check-out.

4. Tenants – when your tenancy eventually ends, you will need to be returning it “as you found it”, less fair wear and tear.  Consider using the same cleaning company that the landlord/agent used before your tenancy started.  Cleaners occasionally miss things, it’s easily done – so discuss with them and your landlord/agent whether or not the cleaning firm will be allowed back in to put things right after your tenancy has been surrendered.  Note: the landlord is not legally obliged to agree.

5. Tenants – also give consideration to any damage to the property.  If you are not sure about anything discuss it with your landlord/agent before the check-out since it may well be possible to find a solution that you can deal with yourself. 

6. Once the tenancy is over, and the check-out report received, deal with it promptly.  If there are issues to be resolved then polite and professional communications will nearly always bring a swift resolution to settlement of the deposit.

7. Final tip – And this is a really important one. If things aren’t working out the way you had expected, try not to get over emotional.  This will invariably make matters worse. In these situations, we’ve seen what should have been solved quickly and easily escalated to an adjudication process with one of the tenancy deposit schemes.  This is very time-consuming and very stressful.

Trying to cut corners on inventories is often a recipe for problems further down the line. We always say to my landlords to begin the tenancy with the end in mind.

You need to be thinking right from the outset what you need to do to protect yourself and the property from any issues at the end of the tenancy.

A final point is to view the big picture. We’ve seen in the past disputes over £50 at the end of a ‘good’ tenancy stretching back three years.

When you take into account that the landlord had a good tenant for three years and the tenant benefitted from a very fair rent rate during that period a little common sense and give and take soon resolves the issue and means everyone parts feeling happy.

And that’s the win win situation we aim for and which most people feel good about.

Thanks for reading and if you have any other property related questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!

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