If you have lost a deposit dispute claim recently, you are not alone. Dispute arbitration via the three deposit schemes is an evidence based process, but without sufficient evidence your claim is unlikely to be upheld. An inventory without a tenants signature or a Check-In meeting is a common reason that a landlord loses a deposit claim.
We all know that having an accurate Inventory at the beginning of a tenancy will reduce the risk of any dispute about damage to property or its contents between the landlord and tenant at the end. However this is only the case if the tenant has been given the opportunity to agree and sign the inventory at the very beginning of the tenancy. The signing and dating at the Check-In meeting demonstrates their agreement to the condition of the property and its contents.
A Check-in Meeting is the best way to demonstrate that the tenant was given the opportunity to give input to an inventory and agree it. The tenant can also highlight faults and have them noted on the Inventory and know that he will not be held responsible at the end of the tenancy. The Check-in procedure is protection for both landlord and tenant as once the inventory is agreed it gives a valid snapshot of the property at the beginning of the tenancy.
If the tenant is not given the opportunity to agree the contents of the inventory or make agreed amendments to reflect the condition of the property it could be argued that the Inventory is devalued if not worthless. As a result at the end of the tenancy it would be harder for the landlord to rely on the Inventory as evidence in the case of a dispute.
The deposit scheme providers (TDS, DPS and My deposits) all follow the same principles and standards when dealing with a deposit dispute so involved parties can expect a fair outcome. The ‘Guide to tenancy deposit disputes and damages’ published jointly by the three schemes stresses that: “Just providing an Inventory to the tenant and expecting them to note any discrepancies or rely on a document that has not been signed will not be sufficient to convince an adjudicator”. The schemes recommend that where ever possible it should be ensured that the tenant is given the opportunity to view, amend and sign the Inventory. If the inventory is not signed by the tenant the schemes require that a Landlord explains why.
Due to the importance ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) put on Inventories they created a subdivision called APIP (Association of Professional Inventory Providers). APIP consider that a Check-in Meeting is best practice and as members, we always recommend a Check in Meeting to our clients.