How to set up a trouble-free tenancy to avoid later disputes

publication date: Jul 21, 2015
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

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Mike Morgan, Head of Adjudications at The Tenancy Deposit Scheme, offers some essential advice to landlords, tenants and letting agents on how to set up a trouble-free tenancy from the start.

He explains that taking a little time and trouble to get things right when the tenancy begins can save you major headaches, time and cash later on.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme Checklist

Agree on details right at the start

Very often, people only start to deal with issues such as unpaid rent, or dirty or damaged property, when they first arise.

And, according to Mike, it’s not unusual for this to be on the last day of tenancy, or even afterwards, causing major headaches and delays in pursuing claims successfully. So it’s essential when you first let or move into a property to agree between you the condition of the property.

Do this as soon as possible after the start of the tenancy.

A good check-in report, with a mixture of photos taken around the property and descriptions, is a must so that you have something to compare to when the tenancy ends.

It’s also important to agree between you the contents of the inventory. This is another simple step that will help you avoid problems later, should a dispute arise.

Don’t delay, act straight away
It pays to bear in mind that damage, cleaning or redecorating claims are all much harder to make after the tenancy has finished.

So enthusiastically photographing damage at that point will not help your case if you don’t have evidence of the condition the property was in at the beginning, or if you don’t know how to contact a tenant that has simply vanished.

That’s why an agreed check-in report and inventory right at the start of the tenancy and making sure you have a forwarding address for the tenant are essential jobs whether you let directly to the tenant or through an agent.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme Checklist

Why is Tenancy Deposit Protection a good thing?

You may be asking yourself what the point of tenancy deposit protection actually is.

In fact, it offers protection in two main areas: firstly, the ability to make claims from a deposit at the end of the tenancy and secondly - more importantly - making sure you comply with the legislation.

Steps to properly protecting a tenant’s deposit
Some people might see tenancy deposit protecion as unnecessary paperwork or bureaucracy, but taking a little time to follow these steps at the start of the tenancy will help you deal successfully with any issues that arise later:

  • Make sure you serve the right, prescribed information and documentation on the tenant

  • Check whether there is a main person to liaise with on any issue that arises

  • Be sure to get an address from the tenant where you can contact them at the end of the tenancy

Mike’s and TDS’s top tip: Get it right at the start

Mike is clear about the benefits of getting yourself organised right at the start. While following his steps won’t guarantee you a trouble-free tenancy, at least you can be confident you’ve acted lawfully and correctly, and have the right documentation to support any claim that you may ultimately, if you’re unlucky, have to make.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme Checklist

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