Home Business Insights & Advice What is the biggest cause of tenancy deposit disputes in the UK

What is the biggest cause of tenancy deposit disputes in the UK

by Sarah Dunsby
5th Mar 24 5:15 pm

End-of-tenancy disputes can turn a smooth move-out into a stressful experience. Data from recent years in the UK overwhelmingly shows that cleaning is the biggest reason for disputes between tenants and landlords when it comes to tenancy deposits. Lack of proper documentation during check-in and check-out further fuels these disputes. Damage to the property and unpaid rent are other common culprits.

According to London-based cleaning company Crown Cleaners, cleaning issues are a major cause of deposit disputes. To avoid this, understand what landlords expect: the property returned in the same condition it was in when you moved in, minus normal wear and tear. A quick vacuum won’t suffice – a thorough and organized approach is crucial.

Statistics tell the story

According to The Dispute Service (TDS), which handles deposit disputes across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, cleaning claims consistently top the charts.

Recent reports (from around 2020-2022) show figures ranging from:

  • 45% to 53% of disputes in England and Wales involve cleaning.
  • An even higher percentage (up to 71%) in Scotland.

Reasoning behind the stats

  • Differing expectations: Disputes often arise because of a mismatch in expectations. Landlords expect the property returned in a similar state (minus wear and tear) to how it was rented. Tenants, on the other hand, may not be aware of the extent of cleaning required.
  • Lack of documentation: Detailed inventories with photos documenting the property’s condition at the start and end of tenancy can significantly reduce disputes. Many disputes arise due to a lack of such evidence.

Here are some resources with data to support this:

By understanding the reasons behind cleaning disputes, both tenants and landlords can take steps to prevent them. This includes:

  • Clear communication: Landlords should clearly outline cleaning expectations in the tenancy agreement. Tenants should ask questions if unsure.
  • Detailed inventories: Conduct thorough check-in and check-out procedures with detailed inventories and photos.

By following these steps, tenants can increase their chances of getting their full deposit back, and landlords can minimize disputes and ensure their property is returned in good condition.

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