Recent research from the DPS reveals that student house deposit disputes are twice as likely as other tenants, with 22%, or one in five, not receiving the full amount when they leave their accommodation.
Disagreements over cleaning and damage together caused half of all claims that entered the DPS free-to-use dispute resolution process between 2015 and 2019 (26% and 24% respectively). Other disputes included redecoration (14%), rent arrears (10%) and replacing missing items (6%).
The Mistoria Group is urging student landlords and agents to conduct thorough check-in and check-outs at the start and end of the tenancy, supported by a professional inventory. Clear communication on the tenant’s responsibilities when they move into the property will improve the chances of a trouble-free check-out at the end of this academic year.
Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group comments: “The common mistakes in landlord inventories are essentially lack of detail. Landlords often write just a brief shopping list and often do not have the appropriate photographs and videos, along with accompanying written descriptions to show the condition of the property and its contents.
“Our experience shows that when landlords take the time to spell out tenants’ responsibilities in terms of cleaning and caring for the property, students are more likely to conduct their tenancy in a way that is respectful to the property and this minimises any potential damage.
“Landlords and agents may need to review the deposits they take for student accommodation to cover any potential costs incurred at check-out. In some parts of the UK, the deposit simply is not enough to cover the costs to return the property back to its original condition at the end of the tenancy.
“On many occasions, we have been faced with maintenance related losses.
“If the landlord or agent finds the tenant fails to agree to the deposit deductions, they need to ensure they have the evidence such as a thorough and fully detailed inventory, copies of which are given to the tenant at check-in and check-out. It is imperative that tenants sign their acceptance of the contents of the check-in within seven days of the move in, and this signed copy should be retained by either the landlord or letting agent.”
The Mistoria Group has outlined some common mistake which increase the risk of a student house deposit dispute:
- Landlords and letting agents make the mistake in thinking that inventories can be heavily comprised of photography and video. Completely photographic or filmed inventories without a complete written accompanying report are almost useless. If photography or film has been used in the inventory, make sure it is detailed enough and dated. Include photographs of the garden; inside of the oven; interior of the shed or garage; and keys handed over to tenants – these are the main areas of problems that occur and are often down to misinterpretation at the end of a tenancy.
- There is no need to photograph every single corner of the property as this is simply a waste of time – stick to the important things. Films and photographs alone will be of little use in a dispute when an adjudicator is trying to find hard evidence of a particular area.
- Many landlords and agents do not carry out a thorough and full check-in and check-out of the property at which the tenant was present. Landlords and agents who don’t have this available when they go to court, have little chance of winning the case.
- Often there is no correspondence with the tenant that is documented and no receipts are kept for the deductions on the deposit eg cleaning and repairs.
The Mistoria Group is a high yielding student buy-to-let investment specialist, offering HMOs and armchair investments in the North of the UK, generating combined net cash yield up to 13% (Rental and Capital Growth). For more information on our currently available investments and the services, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 500 3015.