We appreciate that the current circumstances are presenting unique challenges to agents, landlords and tenants. When it comes to the end of tenancy arrangements, including dealing with the check out, deposit and the dispute resolution process, the three tenancy deposit schemes in England and Wales (mydeposits, DPS and TDS) have agreed a common approach.
Are the schemes still operating a dispute resolution service?
The most important thing, when you are having difficulty following your normal end of tenancy processes, is to keep the lines of communication open and try to reach an agreement about the deposit. If you are unable to negotiate successfully, the free dispute resolution service is still open for business and can be accessed in the usual way through each scheme.
Can the timelines for the submission of evidence be extended?
If you are having difficulty meeting the normal deadlines for providing evidence for your dispute, let us know and we can discuss a reasonable extension to allow evidence to be secured. We will let all parties know if the normal timescales have been changed.
When considering requests for further time, we will weigh up the need to reach a fair outcome with the need to deal with the deposit without excessive delay.
What happens if the tenancy ends during the lockdown and we can’t complete a normal check out?
If the tenant is still in the property, we suggest that you arrange a video walk round of the property before they leave. This should allow everyone to check the general condition of the property and any specific areas of concern.
If this is not possible, the tenant may be able to provide a video or photographs to help discussions about the release of the deposit.
If you still need to conduct a full check out, you should try to do this as soon as you safely can, bearing in mind government guidance on social distancing, the agent’s stance or requirements of an independent inventory provider. The tenant should be informed of any reasons for the delay in dealing with the deposit.
Adjudicators may be asked to deal with check out reports which have been completed well after the end of the tenancy. We will deal with these on a case by case basis to reach a fair outcome.
There are some claims where the passage of time from the end of the tenancy may make little practical difference – for example, a property which is very unclean at check-out is likely to have been in a similar condition at the end of the tenancy. On the other hand, a garden may look overgrown a month after the end of the tenancy, but is likely to have changed noticeably in that time.