Recently, a landlord and member of Landlord News got in touch with us about an issue he is having regarding tenancy deposits. We helped him, and others, work out what to do if your tenant abandons your property.
Paul wrote to us about a tenancy deposit issue – His two tenants had rented his apartment between June 2015 and July this year. They both paid a deposit, which was held by the agent he used to manage his property.
Following the check-out procedure, the agent reported to Paul that the apartment had been abandoned and was not fit to be let out again until it was cleaned and repaired.
Paul arranged for the property to be professional cleaned, which he paid for. His property is now let out again. However, he has submitted the invoice for the cleaning and repair work to his agent, and has been advised that it could take three months for him to receive recompense from the tenancy deposits.
Is this correct?
We asked tenancy deposit expert and the Director of Customer Relations at the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), Ben Beadle, to explain a landlord’s rights in this circumstance.
“In the case where a tenant is non-contactable and the deposit is registered with an insurance-backed scheme (i.e. the agent or landlord does not have the means to contact the tenants), the scheme is unable to adjudicate.
“It is an option for TDS members to follow our absconded tenant procedure, which members can choose to adopt if they wish, and involves them making their own assessment of the claim and distributing it on their finding. Members will normally require the landlord to reimburse the funds if the tenant later returns to dispute it. Although Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) timelines in the insurance-backed scheme are three months from the tenancy ending, a tenant in theory could return at a later date and the landlord should bear this in mind. The landlord will need to discuss this protocol with the agent. The agent is perfectly within their rights to await confirmation from the tenant or a court order, but hopefully a pragmatic solution can be reached, particularly if it is generally accepted that the tenant is unlikely to return.”
He adds: “The same is true if the deposit is held in a custodial scheme. Where one of the parties is not responding to a repayment request, there is something called the single claims process. This allows the party that is engaging to provide a statutory declaration to the scheme administrator to release the funds.”
Landlords, if you require any advice on tenancy deposits or other issues, do not hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.