How to avoid and resolve disputes with tenants
Posted 9 September 2015 by Keith Osborne
No matter how carefully you vet your prospective tenants, there is always a chance that the tenancy could end with a dispute, with deposits and cleaning usually among the biggest bones of contention.
The good news is that most disputes between landlords and tenants can be solved with communication, and many can be avoided entirely with a bit of preparation. Sometimes things can get out of hand, however, and the intervention of a deposit protection scheme or even the small claims court could be necessary.
Do your bit
In addition to referencing and credit checking your new tenants, ensure you have completed all of your legal obligations before letting the property, including obtaining a gas safety certificate and taking out landlord insurance covering both the contents and the building.
Conduct a full inventory using an independent clerk and ensure that the assured shorthold tenancy agreement signed by both parties is clear and concise. A bit of extra preparation in advance to specify contentious points such as who looks after the garden could prevent a dispute further down the line.
Talk it through
The most common problems between landlords and tenants surround the big three - deposits, rent and repairs. In addition to making sure you are covered in the instance of rent going missing or the property being damaged, it pays to form a positive relationship by sitting down with your new tenant and discussing each other's responsibilities. Making yourself approachable is key to having a harmonious relationship with your tenant.
Find out what landlords and tenants like/dislike about each other here.
You must insure the deposits of your tenants in a deposit protection scheme. These government-backed schemes guarantee that you will receive remuneration should your tenant fail to pay rent or damage your property.
This service acts independently and also protects tenants, ensuring they will receive a reasonable amount of their deposit back if they behave in line with the terms of their contract. In the event of a dispute at the end of the tenancy, the scheme holds the deposit and offers a free resolution service until terms are agreed between the landlord and tenant. Both sides can provide evidence to support their case and an independent decision is reached.
If there is no way back and evicting your tenant is the only solution, there are strict procedures that you must follow to avoid illegal eviction. You can find our guide on what to do when eviction is the only option here.