Deposit disputes remain low despite rising number of rentals

Fewer than 1% of tenancies in England and Wales ended in a dispute in the 12 months to March 2018.

Data from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – based on its own numbers and freedom of information requests regarding the other Government schemes – found that of the 3.74m deposits that are protected, only 0.85% (31,865) came under dispute over the 12-month period.

The figure is slightly up from 0.83% last year.

This is the eighth consecutive year that fewer than 1% of all tenancies ended in a dispute and comes despite the increasing number of rental properties and deposits.

In comparison, there were 924,181 deposits protected in England and Wales in March 2008, TDS said.

Data from TDS showed its insured scheme had a dispute rate of 1.14%, and 0.49% for its custodial version.

A total of £4.2bn was held in deposit protection schemes as of March 2018, across TDS, the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) and Mydeposits.

The average value of a deposit was £1,100.

TDS was quickest at adjudications on custodial deposits – attributed to allowing online negotiations – with disputes resolved in 3.55 days, compared with 21 at the DPS and 27 at MyDeposits.

It took TDS 14.79 days to resolve disputes in its insured schemes, compared with 26 days at the two other schemes.

The most common reason for disputes among TDS users was cleaning, cited in 54% of cases, followed by damage (49%), decoration (31%), rent arrears (20%) and gardening (16%).

Steve Harriott, chief executive of TDS, said: “As the private rented sector and the need for robust deposit protection continues to grow, as it has done over the last decade and more, it’s important to take stock of where we are and look for trends.

“Despite the number of tenancy deposits protected increasing by over 300% in the last ten years, the rates of disputes have remained regularly below 1%.

“That means the overwhelming majority of tenancies end in agreement between the tenant and the landlord or letting agent about how the deposit is awarded.

“It’s unsurprising to see cleaning remain as the number one reason for disputes due to its subjectivity: what might seem clean to one party could be viewed differently by another.”


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  1. DASH94

    It would be more informative to have the number of disputes represented as the proportion all the tenancies that ended during the reporting year, rather than as a proportion of all protected tenancies.

    It might just be that more people are sitting tight than in previous years, so overall move outs are lower.

    Just speaking for my business, I’d say the proportion of disputed tenancies is about the same as in previous years – it’s just been made a bit more difficult for the agent/landlord because of the ‘improvements’ that have been made to the DPS system.


  2. TheLettingsGuy

    Quite agree Dash. % of disputes against tenancies ended would be a more useful figure. Most of the cases we process are dealt with via negotiation / agreement prior to the TDS dispute process.

    1. reformedfounder

      Whilst I haven’t seen the contents of the FOI request, the average tenancy period has held around 18 months.
      If this remains the case, roughly 60% of all deposits held are returned within a 12-month period.
      Perhaps total deposit disputes / (total deposits held x 0.60) would give you a better gauge of dispute rates – the percentage would still be pretty low…
      The bigger takeaway is the £4.2bn held – this figure was £2.7bn in 2012. The total deposits held (£) will be the easiest metric by which to measure the effect of a 6-week deposit cap and the collective impact of deposit replacement schemes year-on-year.
      Reformed Founder  

  3. new life

    Funny that only yesterday the DPS sent us an email apollogising for delays in the dispute resolution process due to the high number of claims they are dealing with ????


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