Landlord and Tenant

Dealing with Deposit Disputes

This month began with Safeagent Awareness Week, a campaign to make more landlords and tenants aware of whether their letting agent is a member of a Client Money Protection insurance scheme.

Like the deposit protection schemes for direct landlord-tenant relationships, a CMP protects funds given to lettings agents for a range of reasons, including deposits, service charges and rents.

Client moneys are kept separate from the business’s day to day trading accounts, allowing claims to be made if, for example, the lettings agent goes bust.

As of May 27th, all lettings agents in England must advertise the fact of whether or not they are a member of a CMP scheme, giving greater confidence to their customers – whether landlords or tenants.

It’s all part of the ongoing efforts to make things run more smoothly in the rented property sector when a problem arises, and tenancy deposit protection scheme mydeposits has issued a new guide to resolving deposit disputes too.

The guidance recommends the use of photographic evidence to help support any claim, particularly on the part of landlords and agents wanting to prove the existence of damage.

Photographs should not be the sole evidence – there should also be a clear written description of the damage – and landlords should be sure to photograph the property at the beginning of the tenancy too, to show that the damage was not already there.

And it is essential to make sure these photographs are properly dated, ideally by getting the tenant to sign them, or to sign a single document into which the photographs are embedded – remember, if it is possible that newer photographs have been stuck on to the page after it was signed, this may not be acceptable.

Ultimately many of these photographs may never be needed, but you can’t second-guess which ones will be, so comprehensive photographs or even video footage is essential in the first instance.

If a deposit dispute then arises, you can select just the photographs or section of video needed to support your case, making it easier for an adjudicator to come to a decision without having to wade through all of the irrelevant media as well.

By Marsh Brown & Co Solicitors