Most tenancies end without any dispute. In fact, only around 2% of those registered with The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) need the involvement of the free, impartial Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that it provides. Sadly, though, it is sometimes necessary, and the service focuses on coming to a decision that is fair to both parties. As a result, landlords need to understand how the system works and how best to make sure their view is fully heard. We asked Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes, The DPS’ Head of Adjudication, for their ten top tips for approaching disputes with tenants.
- Prepare in advance
Preparing for disputes starts with the inventory. We also recommend keeping records of repairs and communications with your tenants, as this can all contribute to your supporting evidence. You can find our guidance on how to create strong check-in and check-out reports on www.depositprotection.com.
- Only claim for what you’re owed
Many landlords claim for the full amount of the deposit, instead of asking for a deduction that is fair to both themselves and the tenant. Our adjudicators will only award what they think is a reasonable amount to landlords.
- Read the guidance we send you
The DPS’ Top Tips for Managing Deposit Disputes
We’ll send you information as part of the dispute process that’s crucial to understanding the procedure and what’s expected of you and your tenant. Make sure you read it so you know what you need to do.
- Consider your evidence
Think carefully about the types of evidence you provide. We’ll need to see the tenancy agreement, but good quality photographic or video evidence, combined with invoices and witness statements, help adjudicators build a picture of the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy.
- Don’t miss deadlines
Dispute resolution operates to set timescales, so make sure you respond in the time required. Check your spam folder regularly, and if you’re going away, don’t forget to check your inbox, as not seeing an email isn’t a valid reason for missed deadlines.
6 .Don’t put off completing your paperwork!
Your paperwork is a key part of your evidence, so don’t leave it to the last minute to complete it, as this increases the chances you’ll make a mistake or omit something important.
- Make sure your documents are delivered on time
If you’re sending important documents, be sure to use a service that confirms they’ve reached us, such as recorded or special delivery. Don’t forget, dispute deadlines are for arrival of documents, not sending, so allow enough time for delivery. If you’re unsure if something has reached us, you can always call us to find out.
- Consider using a third party
We all lead busy lives, and if you’re not available while a dispute is taking place, you can authorise a third party to communicate with us on your behalf, nominating them in writing. All payments, decisions and automated notifications will still be sent to you, but you’ll benefit from the convenience of your third party being able to respond in your place.
- Got a problem? Let us know
If you’ve a problem with any aspect of the dispute resolution process, get in touch. We can advise you on any part of our processes you’re having an issue with. Our goal is to reach an outcome that’s fair to everyone, so we want you to get things right.
- You can still come to an agreement with your tenant
It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in the dispute resolution process, you and your tenant can still negotiate an agreement between you. We’ll still need both of you to confirm the repayment amount to us, but it’s possible to save time and effort by keeping communication going.