How to Make a Successful Tenancy Deposit Scheme Claim

28th January 2022

Of the 29,697 tenancy deposit scheme cases that came to dispute in 2020/21, 75 per cent were initiated by the tenant. Comparing this to just 17 per cent having been initiated by a letting agent, and 8 per cent by a landlord, it’s clear to see that it’s important for landlords to be prepared and aware of best practices should they find themselves in a deposit protection scheme dispute.

deposit protection scheme dispute

Of the 29,697 tenancy deposit scheme cases that came to dispute in 2020/21, 75 per cent were initiated by the tenant. Comparing this to just 17 per cent having been initiated by a letting agent, and 8 per cent by a landlord, it’s clear to see that it’s important for landlords to be prepared and aware of best practices should they find themselves in a deposit protection scheme dispute.

The latest TDS statistical briefing has revealed that the number of deposit disputes occurring in England and Wales during the 2021/22 period were lower than expected, at a rate of just 0.70%. However, the reduction in numbers was likely down to the COVID pandemic, and the prediction is that it’s likely they’ll rise again in 2022. And with 75 per cent of disputes initiated by the tenant, it is important for landlords to be ready to prepare to put their case in front of a deposit scheme adjudicator should the need arise.

What do landlords need to present to a deposit scheme adjudicator in the event of a tenant claim?

It is always important to bear in mind that when an adjudicator is presented with a case, they have no details about the individual dispute. It is therefore essential to prepare all supporting paperwork efficiently so that the adjudicator can clearly see what the claim is and how much is being claimed.

You’ll be required, in the Dispute Application or Dispute Response, to break down your claim into factors relating to rent arrears, tenant damage, cleaning, redecoration, gardening or something else. The adjudicator is only able to make a decision based on the information provided to them by both parties. They will not contact landlords or tenants to chase up any missing details.

There are four actions to follow to make sure your claim is prepared in the right way:

1. Clarify the claim

Be sure to set out precisely what you are claiming and what the claim is worth. Provide a succinct, initial explanation. For multiple claims, be sure to add up all the individual elements correctly. If the amount you are disputing isn’t as much as the full deposit made, you will need to note what will happen to the balance of the deposit. This will help to avoid confusion later down the line.

2. Set out the claim

This is where you can go into more detail about the dispute, setting out why you believe you are entitled to what you are claiming. Where you are making multiple claims in the same category, try to break it all down. Say for example you have a damage claim for £200 made up of a broken table for £75, a ripped rug for £100 and a damaged lamp for £25, list all these claims separately, but under the same problem. In situations where the total claim value exceeds the deposit, don’t round the figure down to the deposit amount.

3. Provide evidence

Always keep in mind that the deposit belongs to the tenant. It is therefore vital that you provide strong evidence as to why the money should not be returned to them in full. Adjudicators look for clear, unbiased evidence and, if it is missing, they will not chase you up for it. They will simply go by what you provide to them.

You will therefore require the likes of receipts, invoices, photographs and reports. If you are making a claim for cleaning or damage, you’ll benefit from providing an unbiased inventory report, preferably one that has been carried out by an independent, professional inventory provider, rather than a DIY version.

Whilst it is important to be thorough when supplying evidence, make sure you don’t go the other way, and provide too much information, as you may risk vital facts being buried.

4. Put a value on your claim

Landlords should set out precisely what costs they have incurred or losses they have made as a result of any tenant negligence. This can be in the form of an invoice in cases where the issue has been rectified, or a written estimate if the work is yet to be carried out.

If the costs come across as reasonable, and the work has already been completed, the adjudicator will in most cases award the amount being claimed. However, in the case of submitting an estimate, you should not assume that you will be awarded the full amount. Adjudicators are very well informed when it comes to estimating costs, and will always ensure that amounts are fair.

You will also need to consider whether an issue is fair wear and tear, versus tenant negligence.

Help navigating the tenancy deposit scheme claims process

Depending on which deposit scheme your tenants have placed their deposits with, you may be able to access guidance on the claims process. TDS for example runs an online Adjudication Workshop and has a number of case studies available. MyDeposits offers a support service, whilst the DPS has a range of useful dispute resources for landlords.

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The homes2let guaranteed rent scheme guarantees rental payments, even when the property is untenanted, as well as taking all the hassle of property management off your shoulders too.

Interested to discover more? You are welcome to get in touch with our expert team to discover how we can make your life as a landlord more of a breeze.

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