Deposit Guidelines for Landlords

Deposit Guidelines for Landlords

Handling Deposits Correctly

Deposit Guidelines for Landlords

Be Realistic

Landlords are very often disappointed about the way in which check-outs and deposit retentions are progressed.   

We do ask that our landlords are realistic about the amount of deposit retention that we are able to achieve.  This is because not only do we generally require the tenants' agreement to retain part of a deposit, but there are very strict guidelines as to what is, or isn't acceptable should things progress to Court. 

Retaining a deposit is not as simple as it used to be before compulsory deposit registration.  Deposits are now required to be handled in a way which requires us to be intelligent and accurate in the way we handle them on behalf of our Landlords and Tenants.   

Fair Wear and Tear

Many Landlords are not aware that a Tenant is entitled to ‘fair wear and tear’ during their tenancy and this varies dependent upon how long they have lived at the property. As an example, décor is expected to last for up to 10 years before redecoration is required and carpets generally 5 to 10 years - dependent upon their quality. 

When a tenant leaves a property, Maher Ross instruct an independent check out report to identify any issues at the property, having made an allowance for fair wear and tear.  The independent clerk often allocates an appropriate value, based on standard commercial rates and referring to ARLA and NLA guidelines for any deficiencies, defects and damage found.  Generally speaking, our tenants have agreed to these rates within their Tenancy Agreement.

The amount recommended by the independent checkout clerk is an appropriate amount under the relevant guidelines - usually based on a commercial contractor who can undertake the work at short notice.  In some cases and with a great deal of hard work, Maher Ross may be able to achieve the same results for significantly less outlay. However, this requires a great deal of our own time which we reserve the right to charge to the Tenant, or occasionally our Landlords.

Does Your Tenant Agree?

Many Landlords are surprised that retention of part or all of a deposit generally requires agreement by the Tenant.  If a Tenant simply refuses to agree, there is an option for arbitration, generally a 'no cost' option for the Landlord and the Tenant, where both sides provide evidence to prove their case. Any judgement made follwing Arbitration is final.  Because we use an independent checkout clerk and full photographic inventories, Maher Ross generally (but not always) win arbitration over deposits.  

If the retention remains in dispute, then Maher Ross will assist in the administration required for a Landlord to pursue a retention through the Small-Claims Court. However, a number of additional fees are required to be paid directly by the Landlord; generally in the region of about £100 to £200 for the Court paperwork, and anything up to a further £375 for Hearing Fees; if a Hearing is required. 

Take Legal Advice

We always recommend that our Landlords take legal advice before progressing a deposit claim through the Courts. Should they wish to proceed, the procedure is fairly simple:

The Landlord is required to complete the correct Small Claims paperwork (or complete a claim through 'Moneyclaims Online'), complete a Witness Statement and attend for any Court Hearing required.  If they are succesful, the Landlord should be able to claim their Court and Hearing Fees back from the tenant.  

In summary, the retention of deposits is a complex process; the Golden Rule being that deposit money remains the property of the Tenant at all times unless sufficient evidence is availalble for a Landlord to win Agreement, Arbitration or a Court Case.  Maher Ross work hard to make our Landlords' situation as strong and well evidenced as possible, but we always remind our Landlords that they need to remain realistic - quite often, this will mean they are required to assist towards the costs of minor repairs and basic cleaning at the end of each tenancy.

Most deposits held by Maher Ross are transferred to the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) Custodial Scheme.  The DPS provides plenty of guidance for landlords at: https://www.depositprotection.com/documents/a-guide-to-tenancy-deposits-disputes-and-damages.pdf