Deposit disputes can be difficult and time-consuming for tenants, landlords and letting agents alike. Fortunately, with proper planning and preparation, most can be avoided altogether. Here are some things our student letting agents think landlords and fellow agents should know about that reduce the likelihood of this happening.
Schemes, Agreements and Legislation
The Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) Scheme and Prescribed Information
As a landlord, you must put your tenants’ deposits in one of three government-approved tenancy deposit schemes (TDP), which protect the deposits, within 30 days of receiving them. Within the same timeframe, you must serve all ‘relevant persons’ the Prescribed Information which contains information about the scheme, including how the deposit is protected and how to apply to get it back. A ‘relevant person’ is any person, company or organisation that contributes to a tenant’s deposit payment, which often happens with student lettings. Failure to place the deposits in a TDP and serve the Prescribed Information within 30 days will incur penalties.
The Tenancy Agreement
Knowing what to include in the tenancy agreement will ensure that your tenants know what is your responsibility and what is theirs, which is crucial to preventing disputes. Two aspects of the tenancy agreement that are often overlooked are:
- Joint and several liability
This means that all of your tenants are equally responsible for adhering to the tenancy agreement, so for example if one tenant cannot pay the rent, then the other tenants are liable for that as well.
- Cleaning and maintenance responsibilities
This should state who is responsible for things like mowing the lawn and cleaning the gutters. In student lettings, it’s also important to state that every tenant is responsible for keeping communal areas clean and tidy because many of these are let to individuals by bedroom.
The Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) legislation
If your letting is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) then you as the landlord have extra legal responsibilities. This is primarily to reduce the risk of fire and ensure tenants have adequate facilities. It includes ensuring that annual gas safety checks are carried out and making necessary repairs to communal areas of the property.
Furthermore, the HMO may require a licence. This generally applies if it has five or more unrelated people living in it or two or more separate households living there; however, some local councils require all HMOs to have a licence so it’s worth checking with them.
Know your tenants’ contact information
A simple but oft-forgotten way to reduce the risk of deposit disputes is to maintain clear and open communications with your tenants. Obviously, you cannot do this if you don’t have their up-to-date contact details, such as email addresses and phone numbers. As students often change these, it is important to check in with them occasionally to ensure you have the correct information.
Market early for student lettings
Students often begin their property searches around October-time for the following academic year. This is ideal, because it means you can ensure everything is ironed out in plenty of time before the tenancy begins. Therefore, you should try to market your property early. If you need help, Mistoria Estate Agents have an expert marketing team who can help with compelling advertisements, shrewd social media management, to-let boards and floor plans and more, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Further Information about our student letting agents
Bear these points in mind and you’ll drastically improve your chances of a successful, dispute-free tenancy for your property. However, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Mistoria Estate Agents specialises in student tenancies in the areas of Bolton, Liverpool and Salford. We offer extensive reference checks so you can find the “right” tenants for your property, and our Comprehensive Property Protection means all properties go through our inventory service to include photographic or video evidence, protecting both landlord and tenant.
If you’d like help, or simply wish to know more about, TDP schemes, tenancy agreements, HMO legislation or anything else related to lettings, contact us on 0800 500 3015 so we can advise you further.
We are members of ARLA Propertymark which means we meet higher industry standards than the law demands. Our experts undertake regular training to ensure they are up to date with best practice and complex legislative changes so they can offer you the best advice. We are also backed by a Client Money Protection scheme which guarantees your money is protected.