Landlord News,Tenant News

Self-resolution encouraged for landlords and tenants with deposit disputes

Em Morley - September 8, 2021

Landlords and tenants are opting to solve disputes independently, according to new figures from SafeDeposits Scotland.

This is saving them weeks of waiting and the potential stress caused by lengthy formal processes.

The Glasgow-based tenancy deposit scheme saw cases completing with a self-resolution increase by 11% between April and June. This accounts for 9% of all dispute cases in April, 17% in May, and 20% in June. Over the same period, the number of cases using the free dispute resolution service called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) decreased by 10%.

Overall case numbers increased by 20%, which indicates that despite the rise in disputes during the same period, more are being resolved independently.

The scheme holds tenants’ deposits on behalf of landlords and letting agents in line with government regulations designed to ensure responsible leasing. This includes the ADR service, with an independent adjudicator using evidence submitted to reach a decision. The process can take up to 12 weeks to complete.

SafeDeposits Scotland says self-resolution is an increasingly popular alternative, where mutual agreements can be made between the two parties, often through a simple conversation. Cleaning costs, unpaid rent and property damage are among the causes for deposit deduction claims that can result in disputes between landlords and tenants. The scheme is urging more tenants and landlords to consider self-resolution where possible to help both parties reach agreements quicker.

Mike Smith, operations manager at SafeDeposits Scotland, comments: “About 40% of all disputes that were brought to us last year were solved independently once the parties understood their options.  

“One of the major benefits of self-resolution is that the disputed funds can be accessed sooner. Once an agreement is reached, funds will be released and will reach parties within five working days. This means money can be available much quicker for those needing a new deposit or landlords looking to pay for property repairs before new tenants arrive. 

“When going down the ADR route, it’s worth noting the decision is then out of your control and could take weeks or months for an answer. Our independent adjudicators can only make decisions based on the evidence provided, which varies in quality and quantity. This means those disputing a case don’t always get the outcome expected. 

“With such a challenging year for the country almost behind us, where we can support people in solving issues quickly and easily, we will. If you have a dispute but you’re not sure on which route to take, we can help advise parties before submitting a proposal to hopefully save everyone time and effort in the long-run.”

In line with Government regulations, SafeDeposits Scotland only refers dispute cases to adjudication when satisfied that the landlord (and any agent acting on their behalf) and tenant have attempted to resolve the dispute but without success.