2007 – a new dawn for tenancy deposit disputes
When the new tenancy deposit schemes were ushered in, one of the benefits trumpeted was that they would have a free, quick and easy arbitration (or adjudication) scheme to deal with disputes over deposits.
No more long waits for landlords and tenants while cases slowly made their way through our crumbling county court system. Turnaround times of 10 days were promised, and indeed decisions are much, much quicker than in the courts.
However when a decision is made, one party is always going to be unhappy about it. And with tenancy deposit adjudications, the overwhelming number of unhappy ones are the landlords.
The number of outright landlord wins in the pie chart above has been criticised by DPS who say that their figures show the split ito be is 18% to landlords, 37% to tenants, 45% split awards
However even if you take the DPS figures as the right ones, that is still a massive 82% of landlords who don’t get the decision they want.
Are adjudicators biased?
Horror stories abound about how landlords, faced with trashed properties costing thousands of pounds to put right, have put in a claim for the deposit, only to have the adjudicator award all the money to the tenant.
How can this be? “They are all prejudiced against us” is the inevitable reaction from outraged landlords faced will crippling repair bills while tenants waltz off into the sunset, never to be found again.
This accusation is even made against My Deposits – an organisation specifically set up for landlords by the National Landlords Association! Surely THEY can’t be predudiced against landlords?
So whats the answer?
The reason why so many landlords lose is not a simple one. Its a combination of:
- Landlords being used (ie pre scheme) to just deducting what they want without challenge, save in the few cases where tenants have braved the courts (where on the whole the tenants have won)
- Landlords not realising that the deposit is the tenants money – which means that THEY are the ones who have to prove their case, not the tenants
- Landlords not understanding the basis on which the adjudicators make their decision (i.e. on the evidence)
- Landlords failing to take proper steps at the start of the tenancy to create a detailed and unchallengeable inventory – the foundation stone of all successful landlord claims
Although it is a ‘quick and straightforward’ system, tenancy deposit adjudications are still legal decisions. Most of the adjudicators are lawyers (the rest are generally surveyors).
Landlords need to present cases properly
So if landlords want to succeed, they need to present their case to the adjudicator the proper way. But most of them don’t know how to do this.
“What they need”, I have been saying to myself for a while, “is a clear strightforward guide, telling them in simple language, what they need to do”.
An answer appears!
So when Tom Derrett sent me the draft of his new book ‘How to win deposit disputes’ I was bowled over. “This” I said “is just the job! Its what the landlord market has been waiting for”.
I was so impressed that I asked Tom if we could publish the book for him via my ecommerce business ‘Your Law Store’. I was thrilled when he said ‘yes’.
Tom is an ideal person to write this book:
- He is a former adjudicator, so he knows how they think
- He has a business helping landlords prepare their case for adjudication so he knows the problems that arise
- He can write in a clear and easy to understand style – not something every lawyer can do!
The book is almost ready to go and we are doing the last few tweaks. Tom has written a new conclusion which needs to be added in, and we are doing the final work getting it ready to launch.
I’ll let you know when its available.
But in the meantime, this week on the blog I am going to be concentrating on tenancy deposits. There is also going to be some stuff from Tom and we are preparing a video interview which will be put online later this week.
Subsequent note :
Tom’s book is now out, and available from >> this page so please go and take a look.
You will be able to download the first two chapters of the book to see if you like it.