Suzy Hershman, the Head of Dispute Resolution here at mydeposits NI goes over her best practice guidance for effectively preparing for a deposit dispute.
If I had a £1 for every time a member said to me “I had no idea how difficult your job is” I would be a very wealthy person.
Deposit disputes between tenants and their landlords/agents, whilst uncommon, are here to stay. Even though the most common issues are cleaning, damages and missing items, every case differs and the outcome of the deposit dispute relies heavily on the quality and relevance of the details provided.
It is important to remember that the adjudicator cannot visit the property or the parties involved and are unlikely to know the specific area.
Odd cases that spring to mind include:
- · A landlord who sent flea infested carpet sample in a jiffy bag
- · Numerous A4 lever arch files being delivered documenting the entire 3 year tenancy
- · A tenant who set up a dance pole in the lounge and cut out a circle from the carpet for the base
What can we learn from these cases?
An adjudicator is provided with evidence, in some cases up to 500+ pages long from both parties and have to sort through the documents for each issue in dispute before weighing up each party’s evidence to see whose case is more persuasive.
As an adjudicator it is your duty, even if the evidence is poor and due to strict timescales, you are not able to make any requests for further information.
What you can do
- Collect evidence at the start of the tenancy which includes a comprehensive inventory and schedule of condition.
- Listen and negotiate on any deductions at the end of the tenancy; remember compromise is the key word to prevent a formal dispute.
- To safeguard yourself in the event of a formal dispute:
– Make sure the claim paints a good picture of what has happened as an adjudicator will not ‘assume’
– Direct the adjudicator to the relevant papers to reduce any chance of it being missed e.g. one line in an email.
For more expert guidance on how to prepare your dispute evidence, download my guide for free here.