As the Covid-19 lockdown cautiously and gradually eases, Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) takes a look at the valuable lessons we can take from the experience, regarding tenancy deposit protection.
There’s no doubt that the private rented sector (PRS) has been hit hard throughout the Covid-19 pandemic with tenants, landlords and letting agents all suffering as a result of health concerns, financial worries and unexpected remote working.
With uncertainties still ahead, it’s important to take stock and seek new, better ways of working to recoup time, money and efficiency in the future.
When the lockdown began, TDS worked closely with landlords to help them navigate the new-normal in terms of tenancy deposit management. With a special Covid-19 FAQ page and live webinars, we tackled the greatest concerns and pressing questions on the deposit cap, deposit returns, check-out delays and more.
Some common, important themes emerged over the weeks and it is these that landlords can take away from all of this, to better protect themselves in the future with regards to deposit disputes and legal compliance:
- Adopt a rigorous approach to check-ins
An adjudicator’s hands are tied if a landlord cannot show how the condition of the property has changed between the start of a tenancy and end of a tenancy if a thorough, detailed inventory and check-in report aren’t provided. Take photos of your interior and exterior spaces, and make sure your tenant is clear on their responsibilities from the start. Putting the effort in at the beginning can save you time, money and stress down the line.
- Take advice from knowledgeable, reputable sources
Landlords have had to weather many changes in legislation over the past few years with regards to tenant fees, the deposit cap and section 21 evictions. If in doubt, speak to the experts before you make decisions. If you are unsure about the deposit cap or the impact of temporary rent reductions, visit the TDS website, attend one of our free live webinars or seminars, and check out this Tenant Fees Matrix to see how the laws differ in England and Wales.
- Take advantage of free tools and templates
Speed up your processes by using free templates, like this prescribed information form (which comes pre-populated for TDS Custodial members) and this instant deposit cap calculator. Not only will you save time, you’ll also remain legally compliant too.
- Keep comprehensive, auditable records of communication
Even if you’ve offered a goodwill rent reduction to your tenants, it’s important to get every decision agreed in writing. If a check-out is delayed or a deposit return is taking longer, communication is key to avoid deposit disputes, time delays and losses at the end of the tenancy.
- Streamline tenancy processes with technology
As with free templates and tools, technology is the landlord’s friend when it comes to admin. Any tool that can reduce inputting time and speed-up tenancy processes is worth its weight in gold. Look for suppliers who provide free access to easy-to-use, time-saving dashboards and applications.
A big thank you from Tenancy Deposit Scheme!
At TDS, we’ve long recognised and admired the efforts that landlords put into looking after their tenants and properties. We recently ran a poll amongst our landlord members and were inspired by the many goodwill gestures they had offered tenants during this difficult time. Many had given financial help even when they weren’t expected or asked to. On behalf of the team at TDS, thank you for your extraordinary patience, kindness and creativity during Covid-19.
We also recognise that time is money when it comes to renting residential property, and admin can be a drain if it isn’t managed in an organised, efficient process. It’s why, as a not-for-profit organisation, we continuously re-invest back into our technology and our award-wining customer service team, to help them answer your calls and emails quickly. Your time matters.
NRLA members can access the cheapest Insured deposit protection rates on the market. You can quickly protect deposits using DepositGuard through your existing RLA login.