Ask Tenants blog
Definition of Tenancy deposit scheme dispute:
All deposits in the UK must be protected under a tenancy deposit scheme. Details about which scheme you deposit is protected should be provided by your landlord within 30 days of start of tenancy. Failure to provide you these details can result in landlord being fined up to 3 times the deposit amount and it can be more difficult for them to end your tenancy. If your landlord did not provide you prescribed information giving details of which scheme your deposit is protected, chances are that it is not protected.
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In this blog, we assume that your tenancy deposit is protected in one of the three government tenancy deposit protection schemes. Tenancy deposit schemes adjudicators play key role in resolving tenancy deposit scheme disputes.
Your tenancy deposit should usually be refunded within 10 days if you are an assured shorthold tenant. Most private renters have this type of tenancy. If a landlord wants to make a deduction he/she should write to the tenant explaining the reasons of deductions and submit supporting evidence. The undisputed amount is refunded and disputed amount is held with deposit protection scheme. If a tenant does not agree with the amount of deduction he/she can raise a tenancy deposit scheme dispute. Tenants generally have three months from the date you vacate the property to raise a tenancy deposit scheme dispute.
Who deals with your tenancy deposit scheme dispute?
Tenancy deposit protection schemes offer free alternate dispute resolution service (ADR) to mediate in case of tenancy deposit scheme dispute. An adjudicator is assigned to each case and the decision is impartial and evidence based. The decision of adjudicator is final and cannot be challenged. The service can only be used if both tenant and landlord agree.
If landlord or tenant are unwilling to use the service the dispute needs to be resolved through court. The onus is on the party wishing to use the courts to issue court proceedings. If court proceedings have not been issued with a court within six months of the dispute being accepted then scheme may pay the disputed deposit amount to the other party.
How does the tenancy deposit scheme dispute service (alternate dispute resolution) service work?
It’s a 5 step process
Step 1 Initiation –
Tenancy deposit scheme dispute is initiated when a tenant notifies the scheme that he/she wishes to dispute the tenancy deposit deduction and both and landlord and tenant agree with dispute resolution service offered by the scheme to adjudicate the dispute.
Step 2 Landlord Evidence –
Landlord will be asked to submit a case and provide evidence to support their claim to the tenancy deposit deductions. This should include a tenancy agreement, check in/out reports, photographs and any documents relevant to the dispute that support the claim. The onus of providing evidence is with landlord as tenancy deposit is an asset of the tenant.
They have 14 days to provide evidence.
Step 3 Tenant’s Response –
Tenant will be given the opportunity to review the dispute case and counter landlord’s claim by tenancy deposit scheme disputes service. Tenants are also invited to submit own evidence in support example of evidence can be images, email exchange with landlords/agents, text messages copy or any other evidence which can help you counter the tenancy deposit deduction claim. It’s vital to keep any communication with landlord and estate agents in writing as it can be a key evidence at this stage.
Tenants have 14 days to act.
Step 4 Review the case –
Landlord will be given another opportunity to view the dispute case and submit further comment for the adjudicator to review.
They have 7 days to provide comments.
Step 5 Adjudication decision –
The case is reviewed by an independent adjudicator of tenancy deposit scheme dispute service.
Tenant and landlord will be notified with a full decision. The money will then be distributed as per the decision. It takes 28 days to make a decision.
The most important document to resolution of tenancy deposit scheme dispute is inventory report and additional details to support the inventory report. Tenants must make sure they are physically present and clearly communicate through email with landlord about condition of furniture, stains on carpets, curtains, walls and get it notified in inventory report as an addendum. Photographs supporting the communication are great pieces of evidence in tenancy deposit scheme disputes.