In the UK there has been a sharp rise in tenancy deposit disputes, with about one in three agents putting in a claim. The most significant problems concern cleaning, accounting for about 60 per cent of the 36,000 disputes referred for adjudication annually.
Cleaning disputes are also becoming more commonplace in addition to being the biggest single factor in disagreements between tenants and landlords or agencies. The average cost of the cleaning problem comes in at £220. This can cause delays in re-letting the property as cleaners will need to be contracted to clean up between tenancies.
Put everything in writing
One way of avoiding problems is to define specifically within the contract the condition in which you expect the property to be left. It could be that you ask for the property to be in the same condition as that when the tenants moved in. You may want to put in specific instructions such as clean surfaces, clean windows and carpets, no scuff marks on the walls and a grease-free oven.
When tenants move in and you check them in, if you have the right software you can take photographs of each room so that you have evidence regarding the state of the house or apartment. You can then take the same photos again when they leave, allowing you to identify and substantiate any differences.
This can also be used as evidence in any dispute. If tenants know what is expected of them when they check out, they will not risk losing part of their deposit in order to pay for remedial cleaning.
Using software for inventories
Modern inventory software solutions such as InventoryBase keep all of your administration, contracts and billing in one place. You can also take photos when preparing the inventory so that you can show the quality of furniture, fixtures and fittings. This will prove to be invaluable if there is a subsequent dispute.
The technology includes templates and check lists, so that you can ensure that you have done everything correctly and not missed anything out. You could also offer to see tenants at the property just before they move in order to offer advice as to what needs doing and to prevent any deductions from their deposit.
This approach puts the onus on the tenant to put things right with a clear understanding that failure to do so will result in deposit deductions.
The right software can, ultimately, simplify your administration and free up your time too.