s1homes welcomes Jen Paice, CEO of SafeDeposits Scotland in the first of two guest blogs.
If you and your tenant disagree over how their deposit should be repaid, the disagreement can be referred to the adjudication service provided by your chosen tenancy deposit scheme. The scheme will invite you and your tenant to provide evidence which will be passed to an independent adjudicator. Presenting your claim well will be much more straightforward if you follow these steps from the beginning of the tenancy:
Include your tenant’s obligations in the tenancy agreement
The tenant’s obligations – from cleaning and redecoration through to gardening – should be included in the tenancy agreement and should cover all possibilities. If an obligation isn’t covered in the tenancy agreement then there isn’t a breach to claim for – for example, if the tenancy agreement doesn’t mention gardening then it can’t be used to support a claim for gardening costs.
Complete the check-in and check-out carefully
The check-in and check-out reports should provide a thorough description of the property and its contents at the start and end of the tenancy. We recommend writing your reports as if cameras haven’t been invented yet – the detail should be enough that the adjudicator will have a clear image of the room or item without seeing a photo. A side-by-side comparison of the reports should clearly show if the property’s condition or cleanliness has worsened during the tenancy.
Make the most of your photos
Photos can support a written check-in and check-out report but keep these tips in mind to make sure they’re as clear and useful as possible:
- A photo of a whole room is helpful to give an overview, but clear close up photos are essential to show more detail;
- It’s helpful to have something in the photo (e.g. a ruler) to give an indication of size of damage or dirt, etc.;
- Make it clear in the report and on the photos what they are supposed to show (e.g. stains on a carpet, cracked shade on a bedside lamp, etc.);
- It’s helpful if photos are embedded in the reports in the appropriate place (e.g. photos of the kitchen should be within the kitchen page, etc.). If this isn’t possible, photos should be clearly cross-referenced to the relevant sections of the check-in and check-out.
Keep hold of your receipts
Whether it’s an invoice for having the carpets professionally shampooed before your tenant moved in, or a receipt for a replacement mattress after check-out, invoices and receipts are helpful to confirm any expenses you paid at the start or end of the tenancy. If you plan to have work carried out but haven’t yet, a quote or estimation is helpful to provide an indication of how much it will cost.
These steps are not exhaustive: visit Safe Deposits Scotland website for further information on the adjudication service, including the type of evidence the adjudicator looks for.
Jen Paice is CEO of SafeDeposits Scotland, Scotland’s leading tenancy deposit scheme, with a unique position as the only scheme which is not-for-profit and based in Scotland.