Deposit Disputes – Apportioning Liability

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The deposit dispute process is relatively unknown to most inventory providers. Historically; you are not included in either the discussions and or the submission of evidence over and above the provision of the inventory, check in, interim and check out reports that you provide as part of your services to the client.

This does put providers at a distinct disadvantage because even though some of the deposit schemes do provide case studies they are invariably non-specific and are unlikely to relate directly to your reports. This means that any learning opportunities that could be gleamed from feeding back directly to you as the report provider are somewhat sparse and often open to interpretation.

It therefore leaves providers in the unenviable position of having to ‘guess’ exactly what is required and needed both at the reporting stage and deposit dispute stage. Even though guidance has been issued as to the type of evidence required and the level of detail needed by deposit schemes there remains quite a grey area with no specific advice and guidance being issued or required. This means that reports and their standards differ massively from provider to provider and region to region.

As a result of this lack of clarity; the contents of reports are not always necessarily what deposit scheme adjudicators need in regards to robust evidence. However; unless providers are given specific feedback or a template / disclaimer that is universally agreed combined with operating standards and applied terminology, we will always have this issue.

But that doesn’t mean we should either be happy with our lot or just give up and go home!

There is a lot that can be learnt from the industry as a whole in order to help you understand your specific role and how you contribute to the lettings process. What is very clear is that the role of an inventory provider is so much more than just compiling reports on the rental property. There is a raft of information, Government guidelines and legislation that underpins not only the process of renting a property but also the ongoing management and maintenance.

The process for deciding on whether the tenant receives back the entirety of the deposit or if the matter goes to dispute needs to be understood so that inventory providers focus on the detail and information required. This will enable adjudicators to carry out their function with all the evidence they need to come to a fair and reasoned conclusion.

Professional report providers need to not only understand their own role but that of the landlord, the agent and the tenant and where liabilities exist and should / need to be applied. By completing this course as a professional inventory provider you will be in a stronger position to offer advice and guidance to your client base.