Tenant and Landlord Deposit Disputes – Helping to Understand the Process
Disputing tenants and landlords in the private rental sector still have more to learn about the adjudication system that resolves their deposit disputes without going to court. This lack of understanding can lead to undue perceptions of bias and unfairness in the system which a new guide to the process is designed to help eradicate.
Internal surveys by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, the not- for- profit deposit protection scheme, show that a high proportion of those who have used Alternative Dispute Resolution have found the process easy.
“Where problems can exist is with the outcomes. This is because adjudications are not like a hearing in court where parties to a dispute can follow the process,” explained Steve Harriott, Chief Executive of the Tenancy Deposit scheme, TDS.
And feedback from tenants and landlords shows that 60% of tenants believe the outcome to be fair and 84% of all letting agents are satisfied with decisions. This high percentage may reflect a better understanding among professionals of the principles and methods of the adjudication process. .
The latest step in the continuing education programme devised by the Scheme is a new guide “The Progress of a Dispute”. This covers the way to take a dispute to adjudication, the information required and the time it is likely to take to resolution.
Currently, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme completes over 95% of its dispute cases within 28 days of receiving all the evidence. Over 80% of these are completed in less than 20 days.
The new Guide follows a complete revision of all documentation which has gained an award for clear English from the Plain Language Commission. Consumer organisations such as Shelter, the National Union of Students and Citizens Advice all took part in the revision process.
Other developments designed to help when dispute resolution is needed include an online dispute process and a running progress report for individual cases in dispute and what is to happen next. Case studies are regularly published on the TDS website.
Commented Steve Harriott, “The levels of satisfaction we are achieving with adjudication are heartening and we shall keep up with our various education programmes. The success we have been having points the way to using Alternative Dispute Resolution in other areas of the housing sector. Issues such as rent arrears and disrepair could benefit from this approach.”
Media contact: Malcolm Harrison 020 7581 833528th May 2012