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Record numbers of landlords forced to pay back deposits - 16/01/2009

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An article in the London Paper on Wednesday 14 January 2009 reported:

"Record number of landlords forced to pay back deposits" - The London Paper Wednesday 14 January 2009

An article in the London Paper on Wednesday 14 January 2009 reported:

Tenants are clawing back deposits from the clutches of landlords in record numbers, according to industry figures.

A remarkable 94 per cent of London tenants who challenge their landlord's decision to withhold a deposit at the end of the tenancy win back at least part of the money.

Before the Government rolled out the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme in 2007, coffee stains and missing spoons could result in a tenant surrendering the best part of a month's rent.  As most tenancies last one year, an accurate picture of how the scheme works is only now emerging.

A third party will either hold the deposit from the beginning of your tenancy or repay you anything owed from an insurance policy.  An independent adjudicator - the same company that resolves Premier League football quarrels - looks at both sides of a deposit claim and evidence such as photos and an inventory.

The latest figures come from mydeposits.co.uk, one of three private companies overseeing the scheme.  The statistics show how difficult it is for a landlord to prove that the nail holes in the wall weren't there before but are down to the hammer-happy occupier.

"If the landlord cannot provide evidence of damage or failure to clean, adjusticators will often find in favour of the tenant," said a spokesman.

Ian Potter, of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents, thinks the scheme is a long overdue wake-up call to landlords.

"It hasn't been a surprise to agents, who have long warned of the risks of dealing with a contractural matter with a lack of evidence," he says.  "Before the legislation, a lot of landlords believed they had a right to the deposit even if there was no justification.

Without inventories, bad tenants are being let off the hook, according to David Salusbury, chairman of the National Landlords' Association.

"Reputable landlords whose tenants have damaged their property are having to dig into their own pockets," he says. 

"When the tenant moves out, even if they have left the place in a mess, if there isn't a record of what the property was like before, it's difficult to prove the tenant is at fault."





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