7 Simple Steps to Avoid a Deposit Dispute7 Simple Steps to Avoid a Deposit Dispute


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Seven Simple Steps to Avoid a Deposit Dispute

The dreaded deposit dispute! Just another thing as a Landlord you have may to deal with.

In my experience, although some deposit disputes are unavoidable, most can be prevented. Let’s be honest, disputes are a bit of a pain in the backside. With our busy lives, who needs the inconvenience of a long drawn out deposit dispute, the cost and inconvenience of putting things right? I know I don’t and I know you don’t!

Let’s break it down….

The majority of disputes occur due to:

  • Damage to the property
  • Cleaning
  • Redecoration

So, what can you do?

Preparation people! Who’s heard the saying “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” by Benjamin Franklin? Ok, so maybe I am being a little melodramatic here, but my point is if you spend some time preparing at the start of the tenancy, your chances of a deposit dispute at the end reduce significantly.

I’ve put together my seven simple steps just for you! Follow these steps and reduce the chances of a deposit dispute at the end of the tenancy:


  1. Get a good comprehensive and fair tenancy agreement in place. I know you can buy the tenancy agreements off the shelf in high street stationary stores, but did you actually read it before you bought it? The Let Shed Agreement is twelve pages long and it details the responsibilities of both the Landlord and Tenant, so there is no question as to who is responsible for repairs and/or damage.
  2. Prepare (there’s that word again!) a detailed inventory. I’ve seen the good, the ok and the really bad. A list a page long for a three bed house won’t cut it I’m afraid unless of course it’s a doll’s house! All jokes aside, if you’re unsure about completing one yourself or you don’t have time, get a professional to do it for you. It is worth the money!
  3. Take photographs of your rental property with a date stamp at the start of the tenancy. In the event of a dispute, you can produce the photographs as evidence, rather than a ‘he said, she said’ situation.
  4. Be there when your tenants move in. Have the inventory to hand, ask them to read through it, take a walk around the property and confirm the details by signing the document. If there are any other issues or damage pointed out at this time, it can be noted there and then.
  5. Be there when your tenants move out and take the original inventory with you. It’s now your turn to walk around the property room by room and check off the inventory. If there are any problems, deal with them now, discuss your findings, write them down on the inventory and ask your tenants to sign if they agree with you.
  6. Be fair! Bear in mind that there will be some general wear and tear so don’t deduct monies from the deposit for minor damage that is to be expected over time. Understand the difference between general wear and tear and damage. Otherwise, it can cause unnecessary deposit disputes. A lightly worn carpet is general wear and tear; a burn to the carpet is damage.
  7. Cleaning – I know I would rather be doing anything but cleaning, but twice weekly I get my duster, hoover and bleach out and assume the role of Miss Mop! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we all have different standards of cleanliness, so it is important you advise your tenants what needs to be cleaned at the end of the tenancy and to what level, otherwise what they think is a good standard may be poor in your eyes.  And likewise, don’t expect them to polish your floors if you didn’t leave it in a clean state at the beginning of the tenancy.


If you follow these pointers, your likelihood of a deposit dispute though not always avoidable will decrease. You can spend your Sunday afternoons in the park with your children or acting as a taxi service for them (I’m still at the park stage!) rather than preparing for a dispute. Preparation at the start not the end!!

I hope you have found this useful. Please let me know your thoughts and if there is anything you can add, feel free. Want to know more? Sign up for our Newsletter and receive weekly hints and tips just like this one.

Thanks, Rebecca

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