In this week’s #ExpertView, Kristjan Byfield, Co-Founder of The Depositary, discusses the new solutions for tackling common tenancy deposit problems.
The UK has one of the most regulated Tenancy Deposit spaces in the world- not that you would know it with an array of issues reported in the press & online. As of 6th April 2007, cash deposits in the UK (for the majority of tenancies) have had to be registered with a government licensed deposit scheme- the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) being the most established.
However, despite this legislation and some changes and iterations along the way as lessons were learned, there are still issues surrounding deposit protection.
Thankfully, innovative solutions like The Depositary are available to tackle the problems experienced by landlords, letting agents and tenants. Here’s a look at how this new platform can be used to resolve the most common tenancy deposit protection issues:
Progressing a concluding tenancy in a pro-active and compliant way for letting agents is a huge administrative burden. In fact, extensive research revealed that the average agent spends around 4 work-hours progressing a tenancy from (post) notice to refund and/or dispute. With the average branch having around 250 lets, this represents 1000 work hours per branch or around 6 months of work for a single member of staff! Not only that, but the majority of this process is chasing- chase a tenant to book a clean and/or check out, chase the report, chase the landlord deduction proposals, chase tenant response, chase refund fees….it’s a lot of chasing!
Solution: Save time by using the automated system from The Depositary. By facilitating bookings through this fully responsive platform and having automated chases issued by email (at the frequency stipulated by that specific agency) for all outstanding parties, the majority of tenancy conclusions progress with little manual involvement needed from the agent or landlord.
With letting agents each having their own customised processes and procedures (all in line with government legislation, of course), it’s no wonder that tenants are often confused by the ‘end of tenancy’ process. Without any standardisation or process clarity, the tenant can be left wondering what their responsibilities are and when they will get their money back.
Solution: The Depositary platform allows the agent to place the process (customised to the agent’s specific operations) in a clear and visible ‘timeline’ (desktop) or ‘progress wheel’ (mobile) with added ‘micro-stages’ (the steps required to complete each stage of the process). Tenants can then instantly understand the process and actions required, and view updates on progress, bringing instant transparency to a process that has frustrated many.
All too often a landlord, tenant or agent can turn what should be a factual/contractual discussion about deductions into an emotional journey. ‘It was so disappointing to see how you returned the property..’ or ‘If you hadn’t done/made me do X then I wouldn’t be asking you for Y’. Whilst statements like this might be valid, they are not relevant to the contracted terms and legislative framework, and can inflame a situation. Communicating in this tone often escalates emotions resulting in fraught conversations and unwelcome exchanges. What’s more, these statements and proposed deductions are often presented with little or no supporting evidence, such as the signed AST tenancy agreement, Check-In report/inventory and Check-Out report.
Solution: By presenting proposed deductions within the Depositary platform with no ‘preface’ (e.g. Dear tenant, it’s disappointing we have to ask for these…), in an itemised list (rather than a long email) with each proposal referencing page numbers of evidence, relevant tenancy agreement clauses and critical evidence such as high-res photos, contractor invoices, purchase receipts, etc. – this becomes a fact/evidence-based conversation around contractual and legal entitlements. This, in turn, helps to make the claims progress run more smoothly and quickly with little to no emotions involved.
Almost every tenant I’ve ever met has a nightmare deposit story to recant- whether it’s their own or a friend’s, about some poor tenant having unjust charges deducted in a rude and aggressive way leaving them upset and financially mistreated. As such, every tenant (despite comprehensive legislation in place to protect them) enters the ‘end of tenancy’ process EXPECTING to be ripped off and dismissed by the agent and/or landlord. This is largely embedded in the tenant’s expectations of renting. By and large, tenants don’t understand the regulations surrounding this space, their obligations or, indeed, their rights in place to protect them. What’s more, as every agent does things differently this can feel (not necessarily fairly) a little like the Wild West!
Solution: By delivering a process in a platform, trust levels instantly improve. Tenants know that a digital process will not differ between agent and tenancy, and will therefore trust that, by and large, they are being treated exactly the same as the person both before and after them. Add in a solution that delivers emails with ‘top tips’, visible TDS approval of the platform, and streamlined processes at each stage with documented evidence, tenants instantly know they are being treated properly and can trust all parties involved more as a result. They know where they are in the process and what needs to happen before they are refunded- and they trust that to happen….because the platform says it will.
See how The Depositary platform works: WATCH THE VIDEO
If you’d like further guidance on tenancy agreements, check-in/out reports and end of tenancy, you can download free guides and templates here: TDS Information Lounge
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a Government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and also provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.
We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.
TDS Insured Scheme: where a TDS member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.
TDS Custodial Scheme: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.
TDS Academy: TDS provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.
TDS Northern Ireland: TDS is Northern Ireland’s leading and only not for profit tenancy deposit protection scheme.
TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.
These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.