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By Nick Lyons

CEO, No Letting Go


Revealed - how to avoid disputes at the end of tenancies

Letting agents and landlords who know how to avoid deposit disputes at the end of a tenancy can save time, money, and unnecessary hassle.

Although deposit disputes that get raised count as only a small percentage of tenancies, these can result in large sums of money being wasted and cause stress for both sides.

The dispute service reports that deposit disputes occurred in just 0.70% of tenancies in England and Wales during 2020 and 2021, but for a minority of letting agents and landlords, they will be a major issue.


As a result, we urge that inventories are relied on to prevent these disputes from escalating.

Common reasons for disputes to arise

At the beginning of a tenancy, those renting the home pay a security deposit. This is put in place as a commitment that guarantees they treat the property well and pay the rent on time.

At the end of the tenancy, damaged, broken or missing items could result in a deduction from the tenant’s deposit.

Tenants are able to agree with the deduction amount if they think it is correct or they can query it. In instances where an agreement is not reached, cases will be escalated and this can result in additional costs.

Disputes tend to arise because tenants are convinced that they left the home in an acceptable way, but this is not in line with the expectations of agents or landlords. Tenancies which begin with clear guidance are far less likely to end in deposit disputes. Guidelines help tenants to understand exactly what their responsibilities are and what is expected when they leave.

Although, on paper, these may sound like common sense, they help educate tenants and prevent unexpected charges from being raised.

The most common reason for a dispute is to do with cleaning. Guidelines that outline a simple clause such as ‘the home must be professionally cleaned at the end of the tenancy’ leave little room for doubt and can prevent issues from escalating.

Redecorating the home without permission is another common issue. Once again, outlining this right away is a necessary prevention technique.

Last but certainly not least, landlords and letting agents must understand that these issues do not occur overnight. Checking in during the middle of a tenancy can help to keep tabs and nip issues in the bud. This is where mid-term inspections come in very handy.

Proof will guarantee a fair pay-out

The only source of clarity that will guarantee a fair pay-out is concrete evidence. If guidelines have been shared with tenants about the expectations, keep copies of the emails that reference this. The most sufficient resource of them all will be an unbiased inventory.

The check-in inventory should be kept safe and used to compare the condition and cleanliness of the property when the tenant moved in to when they move out.

Inventories that are timestamped and backed up with video and photographic evidence will shield landlords against damage. The condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy can easily be recognised with this source of proof.

An impartial inventory that has been professionally done, along with a written list of the contents, must be provided to tenants before they move in as part of their rental agreement.

Landlords and letting agents who make use of this will make their case clearly and effectively.

*Nick Lyons is CEO of No Letting Go, the UK's leading provider of inventory services


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