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Guide to end of tenancy deposit disputes

Published: 07/04/2021

At the end of a tenancy, deposit disputes are the leading cause of landlord/tenant disagreements. Inadequate cleaning is the most common issue when tenants leave a property over and above picture hook holes in the walls or missing rental payments. Stained carpets, ovens caked in grease, and filthy toilets are the worst offenders.

From the latest data available, cleaning was cited in 42% of disputes, followed by:

  • Damage to the property 
  • Redecoration 
  • Gardens being allowed to go wild 
  • Rent arrears 

The definition of "clean" is open to interpretation, and not everybody has the same standards of cleanliness. We organise a professional clean at the start of the tenancy so we can ask that the property is cleaned to the same standard when the tenant leaves. If the property isn't thoroughly and professionally cleaned before a tenant moves in, they may consider that flicking a duster over a surface or two is sufficient when they leave.

Tenants want their deposit returned in full and promptly. They will often argue that they have left the property in the same condition as it was at the start of the tenancy. The only way for a landlord to successfully disagree is to have a clear and detailed inventory drawn up at the beginning of the tenancy with evidence that a professional clean was carried out. It will include dated photographs or videos and written descriptions of the condition throughout, including the inside of the oven! We organise the inventory to be carried out by an independent, experienced clerk.

The inventory serves two purposes:

  1. It provides the tenant with a clear understanding of what is expected of them. They know we'll be checking at the end of the tenancy and are therefore more likely to take good care of the property.
  2. Suppose there is a dispute and an inventory to back up our case. A lack of a detailed checklist means it will be almost impossible to win the argument.
As with all other aspects of successful tenancy management, it all comes down to good and transparent communication from the outset. Being open with a tenant immediately will set the right tone. Provided both parties know exactly what to expect, tenancies can proceed smoothly, and there need be no hard feelings or unnecessary delays in agreeing on the deposit return.

Circa London conducts regular inspections throughout the tenancy to maintain momentum. A friendly but straightforward chat just before the final inspection leaves little room for confusion. Our Property Managers have handled hundreds of tenancies and are skilled in ensuring that the landlord is recompensed for all they may be due and the tenant feels they have been fairly treated.

If you're a landlord looking for a professional property management in central London to manage your tenancy, get in touch with us on 020 3137 7877, we'll be delighted to help.  We are a leading prime central London Estate Agents.