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Many disputes between landlords and tenants come about because of disagreements about what constitutes wear and tear. It is a grey area, because people’s standards are different and it varies from case to case. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the dispute could involve a formal Alternative Dispute Resolution service, which tends to side with the tenant, if the landlord or property agent cannot provide evidence to support their claim regarding the condition of their property or the damage. The adjudicator is likely to find favour with the tenant because the dispute involves their deposit. If landlords wants to claim part or all of the deposit, then the onus is on them to prove the state of the property at the start of the tenancy was better than at the end.

Imfuna Let founder, Jax Kneppers, agrees that landlords and agents are unlikely to win tenant dispute cases. He also claims that it costs UK landlords more than £4.5 billion every year, because of damage to property. However, if landlords have the evidence in place to back up their case, it would be a different scenario. If an inventory report is in place, especially with photographic or video evidence, it would clearly show any damage to property or poor cleanliness. The check-in and check-out inspection photos would look different, making it easier for the landlord to win the claim and use the tenant’s deposit as compensation.

A detailed inventory carried out at the start and end of a tenancy will also show what is expected of the tenant, in terms of cleaning and the condition of the property. This could help to avoid a disagreement in the first case. The inventory report will show details of the condition of the property, as well as a complete list of furnishings, fixtures and fittings. There is software available, or apps which can be used on a tablet or phone, for writing up the report along with photos.

Chairperson of the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks, Patricia Barber, said an accurate report of a property’s condition is nearly as important as the tenancy agreement, since mandatory deposit protection schemes were introduced. She said it was important that landlords make sure they are covered for property damaged by tenants, adding that providing an inventory is a relatively simple and inexpensive step which could save a lot of money over time.