View more on these topics

Cleaning revealed as number one tenancy dispute

Cleaning is the number one source of deposit disputes in the 12 months since the Tenancy Deposit Scheme received its first disagreement to be resolved between landlord and tenant.

The scheme, for regulated letting agents and their landlords, went live in May last year, and so it took six months before the end of a tenancy to a deposit dispute that needed independent resolution.

Lawrence Greenberg, chief executive of TDS, says cleaning is not the only dispute.

He says: “Referrals to the scheme generally contain more than one area of dispute. As well as opinions differing over what is clean or not, we are most often called upon to adjudicate on the costs of small amounts of damage where redecoration is needed.

“Also damage caused by pets, especially when they have not bee specifically allowed under the terms of the tenancy agreement is often a bone of contention.”

Gardens are another area for difficult judgements. Outside the property there are three elements not two the landlord, the tenant and nature as well. Natural causes can often force the need for an impartial decision from an independent adjudicator.

On the first anniversary of the first adjudication arriving at the TDS, the Scheme reports over 80 cases arbitrated over the 12 months, with a further 40 current. The values of the disputes range from 70 to 12,000.

Greenberg says: “The causes of the disputes are all broadly similar. It is just that sometimes the sums involved vary from small to large.”

The three professional bodies whose membership is active in the rental market back the TDS. They are the Association of Residential Letting Agents, the National Association of Estate Agents, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. These organisations account for about 3,000 letting offices, more than half of all the mainstream letting agents.

Since the beginning of this year, the TDS has made particular efforts to increase student awareness of the safeguards offered by the scheme. Deposit problems can often make it difficult for students and many other young people to move on, as the amounts involved in a withheld deposit can be substantial. Following a TDS adjudication, all deposit money due to the tenant is returned within five working days. The adjudication itself takes no more than 10 days.

Use of the scheme can benefit landlords too, as it requires all rent to be paid up-to-date before independent dispute resolution can be used. This is expected to help abolish the culture of withholding the final return for fear of deposit being retrained unfairly.

So far, the majority of disputes have been referred to the scheme by letting agents, followed by tenants and then landlords referrals. Most adjudications end by partly favouring each side.

Greenberg says: “We are very pleased with this first year of dispute resolution. The scheme is working well and allowing people to move on quickly. We are doing away with the protracted disputes that can hang over peoples heads for months. These often cause severe financial hardship to tenants and can be damaging to landlords as well.”

Last month the government announced the bidding process for two types of scheme to be in place when the compulsory use of TDSs comes into force next year. One type will be run like the TDS as an insured scheme. The alternative will be a custodial scheme with a government appointed agency holding any deposits where a landlord is not joined to an insured option.

Both types will have to contain dispute resolution process of the type that has proved itself over the past year.


Government failing to protect consumers over credit

The Government is failing to protect consumers fully with its Consumer Credit Bill, which begins its second reading in the House of Lords on Monday 24 October, credit information expert has warned.The Bill seeks to update the 30-year-old Consumer Credit Act by tackling problems the Government has identified, such as forcing credit providers to […]

Government pledges more affordable housing in Cumbria

Local government minister Phil Woolas today spelled out government action to tackle affordable housing issues in Cumbria.The forthcoming joint structure plan for Cumbria and the Lake District proposes a new policy requiring 50% of homes built outside the National Park to be affordable, and 100% of homes built inside the Park to be secured for […]

Richard Donnell joins Hometrack board

Hometrack has appointed Richard Donnell to join the Hometrack Board as Director of Research.Donnell was previously head of residential research at Savills. His primary role is to develop research services for the property and financial markets utilising Hometrack’s extensive databases of market information. He will also be preparing regular research reports and commentary on key […]

Quarterly survey shows healthy remortgage markets

The latest quarterly UK mortgage borrowing trends survey published by My Mortgage Direct reveals a healthy remortgage market and a boom time for builders.Paul Hearnden, managing director of My Mortgage Direct, says: “One of the reasons behind this positive news is that home owners are choosing the more cost effective option of increasing their borrowings […]

Don’t play chicken with the Bank of Japan

By Josh Ausden, Head of Client Investment Strategy, Neptune Short-term yen strength has hurt the Neptune Japan Opportunities Fund but recent events have only added weight to our conviction that the Bank of Japan will act to ease policy, boosting multinationals’ profits and weakening the yen. In recent weeks the performance of the Japanese stockmarket […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up