Landlords and letting agents alike must act with care when taking deductions from tenancy deposits if they cannot prove what they are making the cuts for.
That is the fresh warning from the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks.
The call from the organisation comes after a recent court case in Bristol, where a group of tenants received over £750 back from deposit money originally deducted by their letting agent.
Six students took letting agency Digs to court after the firm told them that £756 was going to be taken from their deposit.
The agent-acting on behalf of a landlord-claimed that the costs were for cleaning and a full repaint of the property.
Tenant Ed Straw disputed the deductions and subsequently took Digs to court. Using a photographic inventory to support his case, Mr Straw won and Digs was told to repay the charges in full, on top of interest and court costs.
Importance of inventories
Patricia Barber, Chair of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, said: ‘It’s clear from this instance that tenants are becoming increasingly savvy and persistent – they won’t put up with deposit deductions that they feel are unjust. Although it is only a minority, those agents and landlords who do charge for things they can’t prove should think twice about this practice. Alongside being immoral, it could cause financial and reputational damage to a business.’
The ‘Association highlights Mr Straw’s use of photographic evidence to prove that the property was cleaner at the end of the tenancy than at the beginning. This is further proof of the paramount importance of a full, detailed inventory.
‘This is why independently compiled inventories are so important for landlords, agents and tenants.Photo inventories allow all parties to make a fair comparison of the property’s contents and condition at the beginning and end of the tenancy. If the offending letting agency had provided a detailed inventory to back up their deductions, it’s highly likely this case would not have gone to court,’ Barber concluded.