Poor Communication Causing Most Deposit Disputes

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Poor communication, or no communication at all, when withholding a deposit is still the most common cause for deposit disputes between landlords and tenants.

According to the latest from Hamilton Fraser’s deposit alternative scheme Ome, a lack of communication was more a problem than the cleanliness of the property and damage sustained during a tenancy.

The total number of disputes being submitted by tenants to Hamilton Fraser’s deposit protection scheme, mydeposits, has increased over the last three years, however, the number of escalated disputes reaching the adjudication stage as a percentage of total disputes has fallen steadily year on year – down -2.6 per cent in 2019 alone. 

Last year, there were 9,323 disputes raised with mydeposits, however, just 5,792 (62.1 per cent) progressed as far as the adjudication stage, down from 64.7 per cent the previous year and 66.4 per cent the year prior to that.

The decline in the percentage of disputes reaching adjudication is likely as a result of the drive towards early resolution and negotiation, showing that when landlords and tenants do communicate issues can be resolved amicably.

When digging into the causes for these disputes, 30 per cent were as a direct result of tenants not receiving any communication or explanation as to why they were not getting their deposit money back. 

Disagreements over the perceived cleanliness of the property upon check out was the second most common cause for a dispute in 23 per cent of cases, while damage to the property ranked third with 18 per cent. 

Other reasons for disputes included general redecoration, missing or replaced items and outstanding rent arrears or bills.

Co-founder of Ome, Matthew Hooker, commented: ‘The return of a deposit can often be a cause for an otherwise fantastic tenant-landlord relationship to sour and the stats show that the leading reason for this is poor or lack of communication.’ 

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