#AskTDS: The importance of keeping tenants' contact information up-to-date

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The duration of a tenancy in the private rented sector can vary from several months to years. Longer tenancies can benefit both landlords and tenants alike as they can offer a stable home to the tenant and a secure income to the landlord.  With these longer term tenancies, it is important to ensure that landlords and agents have a process in place to regularly update their tenants’ contact information as the longer the term of the tenancy, the more chance there is of tenants changing their phone numbers and email addresses.

At TDS, we see first-hand the struggles faced by landlords and agents when a tenancy reaches its end and they are unable to get in contact with their tenants. For example, TDS currently does not hold the contact details for around 3% of our Custodial tenant(s) and 6% of our Insured tenant(s). Contacting the tenant at the end of the tenancy is vital to return their deposit or to discuss any proposed deductions from this deposit.  In this blog we hope to give you some top tips to find opportunities, at various stages of the tenancy, to gather and update this information if it changes.
Be Prepared
Landlords and agents can take active steps to avoid being left without means of contacting the tenant by being fully prepared at the beginning of a tenancy. Firstly, ensure you have contact information for all tenants, not just the lead tenant. It is imperative that you take a valid email address and stress to your tenants the importance of keeping you up-to-date if this email address changes during the course of the tenancy. By reinforcing the fact that this email address will be the contact method used to discuss the return of the deposit at the end of the tenancy, it will increase the tenants’ understanding of the importance of this information. TDS will always use the noted email address to contact the tenant in the first instance.
It is also important to take mobile numbers as well as alternative contact numbers; it is better to have too much than too little in this situation. The more contact avenues that landlords and agents have to explore, the higher the possibility of getting in touch with the tenant. It is also advised to take an address for contact after the tenancy ends to be used once the tenant has moved out; this can be a work or relative’s address but removes much of the risk of a tenant absconding.
TDS can only authorise the release of deposit funds if both parties agree to the allocations of the deposit. If the parties to the tenancy are unable to agree to deductions TDS can adjudicate on how the deposit should be released but this will only be an option if TDS are able to contact the tenant. In TDS’ experience, where contact details are current and up-to-date the end of tenancy process can be more seamless as the parties are able to engage with each other and TDS where necessary.
Don’t miss an opportunity
As we’ve already touched upon, the start of the tenancy is the best time to collect contact information for your tenant and to communicate the importance of keeping this information up-to-date. What proactive steps can landlords and agents take during the term of the tenancy to ensure the information held is current?
There are various occasions during a tenancy that landlords and agents can utilise to gather up-to-date contact information such as when arranging periodic property inspections, coordinating for contractors to attend to maintenance repairs or during any tenancy correspondence with your tenant. A small addition to your emails/letters reminding your tenant to update you with any changes to their contact information will help to keep the contact data held on file accurate.  Remember, the email address is the key contact information that is needed and should therefore be prioritised in your correspondence.
The final countdown
When you know a tenancy is coming to an end, this is another opportunity for landlords and agents to check that the e-mail address they hold for their tenant (and additional contact information) is up-to-date. Use the end of tenancy documentation to reiterate the importance of these contact details being valid. Remind your tenant that if you are unable to contact them when they move out, this may result in delays or difficulties in arranging for deposit funds to be released or discussed with them.
It is always advised to carry out an end of tenancy inspection and allow your tenants an opportunity to attend. At this inspection you can check with your tenant that the email address you hold for them is the best and most relevant email address to use. It is important to remember that this is a benefit for both parties to avoid any delays in the return of the deposit.
Key Points
First and foremost – get email addresses from all your tenants
Having an address for contact after tenancy ends will help your end of tenancy discussions
Use pre-tenancy, during tenancy and end of tenancy as opportunities to ensure these details are up-to-date
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About the author:
Debbie joined TDS in July 2017 as the Assistant Director of Business Development.  Debbie has an extensive background in the property industry with over 18 years’ experience in residential lettings.
About TDS:
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 Level 3 Propertymark 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 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.
________________________________________
ARLA Propertymark: For agents who would like to stay up to date, you can contact Propertymark | ARLA at: join@propertymark.com. By being a member of Propertymark | ARLA you will be eligible for TDS Insured best headline rates.
RLA: If you are a Landlord and would like to keep up to date with any changes that may affect you or your responsibilities, you can contact the RLA at: info@rla.org.uk and quote reference: dg715 to receive 25% off your first year's membership.

At TDS, we see first-hand the struggles faced by landlords and agents when a tenancy reaches its end and they are unable to get in contact with their tenants. For example, TDS currently does not hold the contact details for around 3% of our Custodial tenant(s) and 6% of our Insured tenant(s). Contacting the tenant at the end of the tenancy is vital to return their deposit or to discuss any proposed deductions from this deposit.  In this blog we hope to give you some top tips to find opportunities, at various stages of the tenancy, to gather and update this information if it changes.

Be Prepared

Landlords and agents can take active steps to avoid being left without means of contacting the tenant by being fully prepared at the beginning of a tenancy. Firstly, ensure you have contact information for all tenants, not just the lead tenant. It is imperative that you take a valid email address and stress to your tenants the importance of keeping you up-to-date if this email address changes during the course of the tenancy. By reinforcing the fact that this email address will be the contact method used to discuss the return of the deposit at the end of the tenancy, it will increase the tenants’ understanding of the importance of this information. TDS will always use the noted email address to contact the tenant in the first instance.

It is also important to take mobile numbers as well as alternative contact numbers; it is better to have too much than too little in this situation. The more contact avenues that landlords and agents have to explore, the higher the possibility of getting in touch with the tenant. It is also advised to take an address for contact after the tenancy ends to be used once the tenant has moved out; this can be a work or relative’s address but removes much of the risk of a tenant absconding.

TDS can only authorise the release of deposit funds if both parties agree to the allocations of the deposit. If the parties to the tenancy are unable to agree to deductions TDS can adjudicate on how the deposit should be released but this will only be an option if TDS are able to contact the tenant. In TDS’ experience, where contact details are current and up-to-date the end of tenancy process can be more seamless as the parties are able to engage with each other and TDS where necessary.

Don’t miss an opportunity

As we’ve already touched upon, the start of the tenancy is the best time to collect contact information for your tenant and to communicate the importance of keeping this information up-to-date. What proactive steps can landlords and agents take during the term of the tenancy to ensure the information held is current?

There are various occasions during a tenancy that landlords and agents can utilise to gather up-to-date contact information such as when arranging periodic property inspections, coordinating for contractors to attend to maintenance repairs or during any tenancy correspondence with your tenant. A small addition to your emails/letters reminding your tenant to update you with any changes to their contact information will help to keep the contact data held on file accurate.  Remember, the email address is the key contact information that is needed and should therefore be prioritised in your correspondence.

The final countdown

When you know a tenancy is coming to an end, this is another opportunity for landlords and agents to check that the e-mail address they hold for their tenant (and additional contact information) is up-to-date. Use the end of tenancy documentation to reiterate the importance of these contact details being valid. Remind your tenant that if you are unable to contact them when they move out, this may result in delays or difficulties in arranging for deposit funds to be released or discussed with them.

It is always advised to carry out an end of tenancy inspection and allow your tenants an opportunity to attend. At this inspection you can check with your tenant that the email address you hold for them is the best and most relevant email address to use. It is important to remember that this is a benefit for both parties to avoid any delays in the return of the deposit.

Key Points

First and foremost – get email addresses from all your tenants

Having an address for contact after tenancy ends will help your end of tenancy discussions

Use pre-tenancy, during tenancy and end of tenancy as opportunities to ensure these details are up-to-date

About the author:

Debbie joined TDS in July 2017 as the Assistant Director of Business Development.  Debbie has an extensive background in the property industry with over 18 years’ experience in residential lettings.

About TDS:

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 Level 3 Propertymark 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 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.


Posted by Debbie Davies on 22 June 2018

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