Best practise guide for returning the deposit to the tenants.
At the end of your tenant's tenancy, you should be expecting to receive three documents from your agency, the inventory report, the check-out report and a deposit deductions statement. The two reports are the condition reports of the property before the tenancy starts and after it has ended the clerk will note any differences to the condition of the property since the inventory in the check-out report is a direct comparison including cleaning and damages. The deposit deductions statement is a list of the proposed deductions based on the differences between inventory and check-out reports that the tenant is liable for. The agency will suggest these deductions based on their experience, training and itemised costing.
Your first step following receiving these documents is to review what the agency has proposed based on the reports if you feel something should be added or that the agency has missed something in the check-out report now is the time to point that out! At the same time if you feel your tenants have otherwise conducted their tenancy in a good manner it is up to you whether you would like to show goodwill on certain charges and is always a good point of negotiation on other charges. Again your agent should be able to advise you best here! If you are happy with the charges the agency have proposed on your behalf they will then be sent out to the tenants. You should then wait to hear back from your agency about the tenant's responses, if they agree then the agency will action the return of the deposit to the tenant and the deductions to you, if they contest then the negotiation process begins and will go back and forth between the tenants and landlord until a compromise has been reached.
One of the most important things to note here though, which we always stress in our best practice guides sent out to tenants and landlords is that there is no requirement to make deductions. If you've had good tenants that have conducted themselves well, you may wish to overlook the small issues and resolve them yourself. The idea here is to make you whole again for costs that have arisen through the tenant acting in a way other than would be expected within the property. For example, leaving the property dirty and in need of a clean may be something that should be looked at, whereas, a small scuff to the floor under the washing machine, would certainly not be!
Some important points to note during this process are that is the landlord’s responsibility by law to protect the deposit during the tenancy with a registered deposit protection scheme such as MyDeposits or the DPS, Your agency should do this for you or advise you on how to! Another important point of note here is that the deposit always remains the tenant's money until they have agreed to any deductions with this in mind you should only be looking to make deductions where there is sufficient need to. all agents should work within a time frame for the tenants to hear about their deposit return following guidelines in the housing act at Eightfold we operate within a 15 working day window for the tenants to receive all necessary documents from us, tenants can be understandably anxious about receiving their deposits back especially when they may be counting on it for their next tenancy because of this it is important on your part to keep your responses timely!
As always we are always here to answer any questions!