There have been many questions from landlords, letting agents and tenants on tenancy deposits since the Covid-19 pandemic forced lockdown and social distancing measures. As a result, many standard processes undertaken at pre-tenancy, mid-tenancy and end-of-tenancy have either ground to a halt or required a different approach.
To help, Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) created a Covid-19 FAQ page in March, which offers guidance on each stage of a tenancy. When looking through the answers on how best to manage tenancy deposits during Covid-19, there’s a clear theme that has emerged: the importance of documenting communications.
Pre-tenancy may not have suffered quite the same level of concern as later tenancy stages due to the fact that moving into properties has been largely prohibited during lockdown, but mid-tenancy and end-of-tenancy stages have caused much confusion. From rent reductions and the deposit cap (in England) to check-out inspections and tenancy deposit returns, landlords and letting agents are worried that necessary or even goodwill actions undertaken now may cause deposit disputes down the line.
In the majority of cases, as seen on the Covid-19 page, TDS are strongly recommending that all parties keep a clear and comprehensive record of communications to avoid misunderstandings between tenant and agent/landlord. There is no better advice right now than to keep lines of communication open, transparent and well-documented.
If an agent or landlord can show the reasons why certain decisions have been made, this will not only help an adjudicator understand the situation more clearly if a dispute does arise in the future, it will also reduce the likelihood of a dispute happening in the first place, especially if those decisions have been made in agreement with the tenant.
The laws surrounding tenancy deposits haven’t changed during the pandemic and nor have the responsibilities of the tenant, landlord or agent, however there are understandably delays occurring that can impact on many of those responsibilities.
If in doubt, #AskTDS or refer to the extensive online resource offered by the experts at TDS. From blogs and Covid-19 FAQs to seminars and webinars, TDS are providing weekly content to shed light on managing tenancy deposits during lockdown and beyond. You can find all of these resources in the TDS Information Lounge.
The next live webinar titled: ‘Managing End of Tenancy Deposits During Covid-19’ will be held on Tuesday 19th May at 11am and hosted by Sandy Bastin, TDS Head of Adjudication Services. The event is free for member and non-member letting agents and landlords to attend. Book your place here: TDS Covid-19 Webinar 19th May 2020
About the Author
Head of Sales and Marketing at Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
Debbie joined TDS in July 2017 as the Assistant Director of Business Development. Debbie has an extensive background in the property industry with over 18 years’ experience in residential lettings, including working as an Inventory Specialist and in her position as Head of Lettings for an agency in Wales. Now, as Head of Sales and Marketing, Debbie brings her passion for raising standards in the lettings industry into her role and is responsible for all aspects of marketing, events, communications, business development and sales across Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS England & Wales) and TDS Northern Ireland.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a Government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.
We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.
TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.
These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.
ARLA Propertymark: For agents who would like to stay up to date, you can contact ARLA Propertymark here. By being a member of ARLA Propertymark you will be eligible for TDS Insured best headline rates.
NRLA: If you are a landlord and would like to keep up to date with any changes that may affect you or your responsibilities, you can receive 25% off your first year’s membership when joining here.