Deposit dispute data reveals positive figures

Whether you choose to take them or not, most landlords would agree that a deposit offers a reliable safety net should anything go awry during the duration of the tenancy.

However, despite the safety net in place, many landlords are concerned about how to manage the potential free-fall of a deposit dispute situation. Is this a misguided concern though?

Recent research released by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) has suggested that of the 3.7 million tenancy deposits held in the 12 months from March 2017 to March 2018, just 0.85% ended in a deposit dispute.

The data, which has been collated using information gathered from the TDS and Freedom of Information revealed that only 31,865 disputes were raised in the 12-month period, with cleaning issues flagging up as the most common cause for concern. This was closely followed by damages, decoration issues, rent arrears and gardening problems.

With the Tenant Fee Ban passing it’s third reading this week, the news that such a small percentage of deposit cases end in dispute will be a relief to many, as landlords across the country prepare for the incoming deposit cap, which will see it topped at six weeks’ rent. The report highlights that there has been a steady rise in the average deposit value in England and Wales since 2010, seeing the cost to tenants increase by 26%, from £880 to £1,100. Interestingly, this is in contrast to the data collected by the TDS Northern Ireland, which shows that the average deposit among in this part of the UK has remained fairly stable over the same period, and sits at just £587 in 2018.

As the private rented sector and the need for robust deposit protection continues to grow, as it has done over the last decade and more, it’s important to take stock of where we are and look for trends. Despite the number of tenancy deposits protected increasing by over 300% in the last ten years, the rates of disputes have remained regularly below 1%. That means the overwhelming majority of tenancies end in agreement between the tenant and the landlord or letting agent about how the deposit is awarded. It’s unsurprising to see cleaning remain as the number one reason for disputes due to its subjectivity – what might seem clean to one party could be viewed differently by another.

TDS chief executive Steve Harriott

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