Ian Langley, Director of Operations, my|deposits Scotland shares his thoughts on TDP in Scotland.
The my|deposits Scotland TDP workshops have so far been a great success. Having now met face to face with almost 500 landlords, solicitors and agents, I felt it timely to share some of the main issues that have been coming up during my encounters. Hopefully, there will be some useful advice too…
Unsurprisingly, the majority of landlords, solicitors and agents I have met so far in Scotland are unfamiliar with the disputes process and have been genuinely concerned about it. So, it seems like a sensible place to start.
Currently, only a little over one per cent of tenancies in England and Wales actually end up in a formal dispute that progresses to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); an interesting fact that should hopefully calm the nerves.
The terms dispute and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are often used interchangeably. However, for avoidance of doubt :
- a dispute arises at the end of the tenancy if you and your tenant are unable to agree on the amount of deposit to be returned. Either you or your tenant – although in practice it’s usually always the tenant – can raise a dispute with us.
- It is at this point that the ADR process kicks in.
If a dispute reaches ADR, then both you and your tenant must submit evidence to my|deposits Scotland for a decision to be made about the deposit split.
This process relies entirely on facts and evidence and the adjudicator appointed to your case does not visit the property. Nor will they discuss the case with either you or your tenant so your evidence has to stand alone. Clear and logical presentation is vital. The onus of proof lies with you as the landlord or agent, so third-party evidence and corroboration such as inventories and receipts could prove invaluable in the event of a dispute.
my|deposits Scotland is the only scheme using externally appointed independent adjudicators versed in Scottish law from the Centre of Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR). We want to assure you that any dispute you have will be dealt with in a fair, impartial and robust way.
Tip - A picture paints a thousand words, but words are still key
Inventories and schedules of condition that detail the exact condition of the contents of the property are essential. They need to have clear, descriptive and concise wording. Where possible use dated photographic evidence to physically detail the condition of items. You can then take photographic evidence when your tenant moves out to compare the before and after condition.
However, the written word is not to be overlooked. My advice would be to cover the likely charges for the ‘hot spots’ in the tenancy agreement at the beginning of the tenancy, too.
For example, what are the likely costs for having the property professionally cleaned, or how much will it be to remove any rubbish left behind? Moreover, if you had your property professionally cleaned at the beginning of tenancy then make this EXPLICT in the tenancy agreement if you expect the tenant to do the same before departing.
Aim to be as clear and transparent as possible with anything you put in to your tenancy agreement or inventory. It’s all about being able to compare the before and after when evidencing your claims so back it up with as much detail as possible.
I hope you’ve found this blog useful. There’s lots more to talk about so hopefully this is the first of many. keep an eye on the blog over the next few weeks for further issues and advice.
Disclaimer: Ian Langley is not Scottish. Nor can he fly, although he is a fully qualified helicopter pilot.