You can argue a case eloquently using your best powers of persuasion. But without evidence you risk losing. This is one of the main lessons in a landlord and tenancy dispute.
Tenancy disputes should be avoidable, but often they are not. When a tenancy dispute does occur, having the hard evidence to hand is what will make a difference to the outcome.
How Can Landlords Avoid Disputes?
“First off, get an inventory with a full Schedule of Condition,” Dominic says. “This should be professional, impartial and fully up to date.”
This check-in inventory should note the cleanliness and condition of the property and its contents. From an evidential viewpoint, it is also vital that when the landlord sends the tenant a copy of the findings they have proof that they have done so.
Also, if there any comments from the tenant, make a note of them. Dominic also recommends a full cycle of property inspections, including interim visits before a final check.
“It’s all about evidence-gathering because only a complete record will offer the right degree of factual, impartial data if a dispute arises”
By the same token, it is up to tenants to make clear any comments they have on the inventory findings sooner rather than later, and in writing.
“Evidence cuts both ways,” Dominic explains. “So while the tenant can also benefit greatly from a thorough inventory, making a comment on it only towards the end of their tenancy, rather than on the point of receiving it, won’t be helpful to them.”
If the landlord is going to make a claim against the tenant’s deposit, this should also be thoroughly evidence-based. There should be a report on at the end of the tenancy that mirrors the check-in inventory, and itemises each cost, where a claim for damages or replacement items is being made.
“Any claim a landlord makes has to have a full justification, with written supporting evidence”
What to do if a Tenancy Dispute Occurs
Again, evidence plays a pivotal role here. Any dispute going to the Tenant Deposit Scheme (TDS) requires copies of all correspondence and relevant paperwork.
“Leave out the personal comments, and when it comes to the adjudicator, remember that it will be down to the facts themselves on the inventory, not how well you present yourself or your interpretation of them, that determine the result,” Dominic concludes.