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The growth in protection and resolution from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Half a billion pounds in tenants’ deposits has been safeguarded by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme in less than a year since deposit protection and Alternative Dispute Resolution became mandatory.
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme released this figure five weeks before the first anniversary of mandatory operations. By March 1, the Scheme covered nearly 450,000 tenancies, housing close on 700,000 tenants in property owned by 335,000 landlords. These figures are rising by an average 7.5% a month. During 2007, an average of 127 disputes a month were resolved through Alternative Dispute Resolution. This is more than double the number handled under voluntary deposit protection. The number of disputes sent to the Scheme continues to rise.
Commented Lawrence Greenberg, Chief Executive of The Dispute Service, who run the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, “Obviously we are very pleased with our success but we are very well aware that Tenancy Deposit Protection is a new concept for the public, landlords and tenants, and their letting agents. We are doing everything we can to make our web-based systems easy to use for agents who are responsible for protecting the rights and money due to both tenants and landlords.”
Last month, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme introduced a webbased education programme for its members. This is designed as a day-to-day aid that can also be used for in-house training programmes for letting agents and corporate landlords. Said Lawrence Greenberg, “Providing tutorial assistance in this way helps us all. It cuts down on erroneous entries, gives staff confidence and frees up the telephone lines for the serious or unusual problems that inevitably arise.”
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme website also contains filmed interviews with leading figures in the lettings industry, discussing the merits of tenancy deposit protection and the simplicity of the Scheme. It can be viewed on www.tds.gb.com by clicking on the clapperboard marked TDS OVERVIEW.
Notes from The Tenancy Deposit Scheme – helping them to help you!
It may sound obvious, but we need all the evidence that you feel is necessary to make your case. Please don’t withhold anything. It is not for us to go looking for evidence. You must let us have what you consider is necessary to support your case. Nor is it sufficient for you to say “I know the wall wasn’t damaged at the start of the tenancy, and it is now” without some evidence to back it up. Under those circumstances, we may award the disputed amount to the tenant without further ado.
If you know that there is something that you will need some time to get hold of, please tell us why and when it will be available. Otherwise we will assume that you have sent us everything that you want us to consider. And we will not be able to take into account anything submitted after we have sent the file to an adjudicator.
There are some documents which will almost always be relevant:
● a copy of the tenancy agreement;
● a copy of the check-in inventory and schedule of condition if they were included in the initial documents;
● a copy of the check-out inventory and schedule of condition;
● receipts for any work done following the check-out; and, if available, estimates for other, intended, work.
We will also need a statement of the rent account if rent is one of the items in dispute. Where housing benefit has been paid, please let us have a copy of a letter from the Housing Benefit Department stating when it will stop, or that it has stopped.
You can also send any other evidence, such as photographs, videos, receipts and correspondence, to support your case. Please have a look at the guidance produced by TDS Ltd on the presentation of visual material (TDS D Operational procedures and advice for members, Appendix 1, which can be downloaded from the members’ section of our website). Photographs need to be of a good quality and clearly show the size, nature, extent, location, etc of the dilapidation they aim to depict.
We cannot emphasise strongly enough the importance of wellprepared and clearly presented inventories and schedules of condition at the beginning and end of the tenancy. Ideally they should be signed by both the landlord (or agent on his behalf) and the tenant, but we recognise that may not always be practical.
We are aware that landlords may sometimes be reluctant but they should understand that it will be very difficult to demonstrate that the property has deteriorated during the tenancy, or that the tenant is liable for it without proper inventories. Failure to produce them will be taken into account by the ICE in his adjudication, and may lead directly to a determination being made in favour of the tenant.