Deposit disputed... Who decides?

THERE once was a landlady who – to prove her former tenants had left a wooden floor in a filthy state – took off her shoes and dared to walk across it. How do we know?

We were sent the “before” and “after” pictures of the soles of her feet.

Now that deposits must be protected, what do you do if a tenancy comes to an end but you and the tenant/landlord cannot agree how it should be distributed?

Not everyone applies such imaginative evidence gathering as the landlady who removed her shoes. But she did prove a point:

Where there is a dispute, evidence is king.

Before the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations came into force the only route for warring landlord and tenant was a court of law.

Part of the reason for the new regulations was to create an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service, free of charge for tenants and landlords. The ADR service provides impartial, qualified adjudicators who will examine evidence from both sides and decide how the deposit should be divided.

Being free and completely independent means they’re not biased towards landlords or tenants. The only thing they’re interested in is evidence.

Fair, independent and impartial

If you feel you may need to use the ADR service then you’ll find our Guide to Tenancy Deposits, Disputes and Damages helpful as a useful starting point.

Meanwhile, here are the five key things to remember if you do use the service:

  • Both sides will have their say.
  • The deposit belongs to the tenant. The landlord must prove a legitimate claim on the money.
  • The ADR adjudicator is only interested in evidence. If a claim is made without evidence it is likely the claim will fail.
  • The importance of a properly completed inventory (preferably independent) cannot be underestimated.
  • In using the service, both sides agree to be bound by the decision.

No one wants disagreements over deposits. However, it’s inevitable that they will happen and when they do occur it’s very often because landlords and tenants haven’t spoken for a while; so it might be a good idea to pick up the phone or start tapping out an email before it gets to that point.

But it’s good to know – if dispute is unavoidable – that a free, legal alternative to court proceedings is there for you.

If you have any questions on our ADR service our FAQ page might have the answers for you.

We’ll also be rolling out a series of ADR workshops across Scotland, so please keep an eye on the website for more details.

By the way, if you want to see the foot look below!