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Tenants’ deposit schemes are not helping anyone. Tenants have to hand over at least one month’s rent – and sometimes two – to secure a new home even before they have had their previous deposit returned. Also, the money then just sits in an account and so is effectively dead money. There are other solutions which mean this money could be freed up to be used in the economy and to make sure tenants are not having to find large amounts of cash simply to move house.

Insurance is one way forward, with landlords taking out a product to offset any damage or non-payment of rent by their tenants. Another scheme would be that tenants could buy insurance, which could cost the equivalent of one week’s rent, instead of handing over a deposit equivalent to four or eight weeks’ rent. Obviously, many tenants would prefer this, because it makes it much more affordable to move into a new rental property. Landlords would need to make sure that the small print meets their expectations. One such venture, called the Zero Deposit Scheme, has been set up by former Zoopla commercial director Jon Notley and has multi-million-pound backing from the property portal company.

Tenants would have the choice of paying the usual deposit or buying an insurance policy. Notley said the average deposit put down by a tenant is £1,200, while the Zero Deposit Scheme insurance would cost £200. The scheme has been piloted in the Midlands to gauge reaction, with 60% of tenants saying they would go for it, 20% unsure and the other 20% saying they preferred the existing deposit schemes. If the tenant opts for the Zero Deposit Scheme and there is a dispute, then it can either be settled amicably with the tenant accepting responsibility or go to Alternative Dispute Resolution. If this rules the landlord is in the right, the company will pay the disputed sum and then claim it from the tenant.

It should not be a hard sell, as tenants can have the option of taking out insurance or paying a hefty deposit. As always, a clear and detailed inventory needs to be carried out showing all fixtures, fittings and furnishings in the property together with their condition. Photographic or video evidence is a great way to back this up, because if there is a dispute, the photos will prove the state of the property or items at check-in and check-out.

InventoryBase includes the use of integrated photos within any check in/out or inventory report – photos can even be taken on a tablet whilst completing the inspection and go straight into the report.