The Right Way For Landlords To Make A Tenancy Deposit Claim

Landlord Tenancy Deposit Compensation Claim

Sweet Christ, I’ve just been unexpectedly reacquainted with a forgotten old gem, and now I can’t stop myself from blowing off the cobwebs and showing it off. I feel like I’ve found a Russian bride at the bottom of my old gym bag. I need to share this with the entire world.

Only it’s just an email.

Donkeys ago I received a wonderfully insightful email from an actual tenancy deposit claims adjudicator (at least, that’s what he claimed to be. He could have been my milkman from 1990 for all I know), in which he explains the process he goes through when assessing a claim, and what he would ideally like to receive as supporting evidence from landlords in order to maximise their chances of making a successful claim.

In short, the adjudicator explains:

  • How landlords can make a Tenancy Deposit compensation claim the right way
  • How to compile a better inventory

I appreciate this won’t directly be useful for most landlords *today* as it’s a very in the moment issue, but it’s definitely a page to bookmark or preferably, tattoo onto your ass for future reference – because most landlords will likely try and make a claim one day, it’s perfectly normal.

Sadly, tenancy deposit claims favour the tenant from the offset, meaning that many landlords are destined to take a big, fat L when attempting to make a claim. Although, I get it, because of the following reasons:

  • Tenancy deposit regulations need to be properly complied with in order to make a claim;
  • the burden of proof is on the landlord;
  • landlords often rely on a piss poor inventory (a.k.a condition report) and/or don’t have any substantial evidence to support their claims;
  • the evidence is often poorly presented.

It’s also worth noting that most claims will be swiftly escorted off the premises if:

  • You don’t have a tenancy agreement signed by both landlord and tenant.
  • You don’t have a signed check-in and check-out inventory report (so many landlords are guilty of this, and it’s a sick crime! *death stare*).

Okay, so, let’s move onto the meat and potatoes. The email. Hopefully the contents of it can help swing the pendulum in our favour if the time comes (if there is any justice in this world that bloody day shall never arrive. So no doubt it will eventually!).

Side note: the adjudicator requested to remain anonymous. Obviously I was more than happy to oblige, I’m not a savage after all. So in order to protect his anonymity and for ease, I’m going to call him Fanny from now on. I’ve also taken it upon myself to give Fanny a backstory so you can really engage with the character. I feel it’s important to build trust.

Fanny’s true passion is acting, but sadly he’s one of those “struggling actors”. His parents are naturally disappointed, but Fanny is defiant and driven, and that’s exactly why he decided to became a claims adjudicator – it allows him to earn some spare cash on the side (a job that can be accomplished in between auditions).

He did land one relatively lucrative role when he was younger, which enabled him to invest wisely into property. But ever since then, it’s been an endless struggle. You’ve likely seem him loitering around the market square in EastEnders as an extra (or as Fanny likes to call it, an “atmosphere role”).

Fanny remains hopeful.

Tenancy Deposit Claims Adjudicator’s recommendations [for when making a claim]…


I am an adjudicator and have done over 100 landlord and tenant deposit adjudications. I also own quite a lot of residential property so certainly understand things from a landlord’s perspective.

Adjudicators, most of whom are legally qualified and self-employed, typically get paid *£100 to do an adjudication, so do not expect an adjudicator to want to spend more than 2 or 3 hours adjudicating your dispute. Brevity, relevance and precision is what a landlord should try to achieve with evidence.

*This may not be the rate today in 2022.

What the adjudicator does NOT want to see…

My heart sinks when I receive a video inventory. Some last an hour, and one recent so called professional video had over 15 minutes on the tiny garden and exterior of the property. It is not for the adjudicator to formulate a landlord’s case and find the evidence, so I often ignore or fast forward videos where the landlord does not refer to the precise place in the video where what is in dispute can be seen.

I’m not impressed with most photos I receive, it is not so much that dates can be altered (Fanny is referring to the date stamp generated by cameras, which can be easily manipulated – I covered this topic in my How Landlords Should Take Photos For An Inventory blog post), it is the quality of the photos that are terrible (it is often unclear what the photo is supposed to show) and the enormous number of irrelevant photos that are sent. In one recent dispute I received 200 photos virtually all of which were not relevant to the dispute. It is not my job to work out which photos are relevant.

The burden of proof is on the landlord

Many landlords do not understand that the Landlord has to prove their entitlement to the tenant deposit and must provide evidence. So often inventories count spoons but most disputes revolve round condition rather than numbers of spoons. If a landlord is claiming for repainting a room I want to know when it was last decorated, how much it cost to decorate and the condition on check in and check out. Photos of loads of walls are not much help. Professional photos that are integral to a check in/out report are useful but not a folder of 300 photos.

My check in reports on my properties are very brief, “bedroom 1, decorated date, unmarked wall, carpet 100% wool new date, burn mark size of a 10p piece by door” etc

I am sure landlords and indeed their agents would be much more successful if they presented their case briefly saying:

  • what the dispute was over
  • evidence of CONDITION at check in
  • evidence of CONDITION at check out
  • evidence of cost to repair/replace ( or hours spent if actually done by landlord)

Whilst before/after photos can back up a point in a check in/out report it is no substitute for a good check in CONDITION report.

What the adjudicator wants from the Landlord

As an adjudicator I have no interest in anything other than the dispute and I really do not want to see photos of matters that are not in dispute. If I may be permitted to rant further, there is only one thing that annoys me more than lengthy videos and that is Landlords, or normally their agents, who send long strings of emails i.e. the same email repeated many times.

The best landlord claims on the deposit have a simple summary spreadsheet at the front – by way of example:

Tenancy deposit claims breakdown
Repaint bed 1 £300 Para 2.9 Para 4.4 xyz painters
Damaged kitchen unit £200 Para 4.2 Para 5.7 abc kitchens
Gardening £150 Para 5.7 Para 8.2 See Schedule A

That way the adjudicator cannot possibly miss anything in dispute or indeed any of the evidence.

In many cases, the tenant states they never saw the check in/check out reports or they were not accurate, so I always email the reports to the Tenant so have evidence of when sent etc.

In the above case, the landlord ended up having to resolve some maintenance issues in the garden, even though it was the tenant’s responsibility. So the Gardening claim schedule might read:

Schedule A Gardening claim – £150
The tenant’s gardening obligation can be seen as clause 5.6 of the Tenancy Agreement. At the commencement of the tenancy the garden was in excellent condition as evidenced by para 5.6 of the check in report which says “hedge cut, grass cut, patio weed free” At check out the grass appeared not to have been cut for over a month, the hedge had not been cut since the start of the tenancy, the patio was covered in weeds. Cigarette ends and broken bicycle parts were left over the garden. The check out report para 8.2 augmented by dated photographs shows the condition of the garden at check out was substantially worse than at check in. The landlord undertook the gardening work himself.

Schedule A – Gardening
Cut grass 2 hours at £25 ph including landlords lawnmower/fuel £50
Cut hedge 2 hours at £15 ph £30
Spray weedkiller on patio 1 hour at £15 ph £15 can of weedkiller from B&Q (see receipt)
Removal of rubbish Removal of rubbish to tip 30 miles at 45 per mile, plus plastic sacks, plus 2 hours at £15 ph £45

… and cut!

There we have it.

Thank you kindly, Fanny. That was beautiful.

Obviously I’ve only shared the perspective of one alleged adjudicator, so it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what all adjudicators want or expect from landlords when they file a claim. However, I think it’s fair to say that it’s a sensible format to follow.

I think it’s also worth noting that this guidance isn’t intended to validate any claims, it’s just highlighting how to effectively submit evidence to a tenancy deposit claims adjudicator to help increase the chances of winning. If the substance of your actual claim is total codswallop, that’s on you, and a totally different issue altogether. But at least you now know how to submit your garbage claim in a decent format. Good luck.

These are the key points I took away from the email…

Top tips for making a Tenancy Deposit Compensation Claim

  • Brevity, relevance and precision is what a landlord should try to achieve with evidence! In other words, don’t submit irrelevant tosh:
    • If correspondence between the landlord and tenant is part of the evidence, only provide the relevant emails/chat logs.
    • If you are submitting a video inventory, provide a timestamp of where the relevant evidence is.
    • If submitting photos, only provide relevant ones (i.e. before and after pics of the item in dispute), and not dozens of photos of the same thing or of matters that are not in dispute.
    • If an agent is submitting a claim on your behalf, check to see if they’re not guilty of the above!
  • Providing irrelevant and excessive evidence may hinder your chances of a successful claim.
  • It is NOT the adjudicator’s job to find the evidence. If you make them work too hard, it could lead to critical evidence being missed.
  • Quality of the photos are important.
  • The burden of proof is on the landlord, which means landlords will need to persuade the adjudicator with sensible evidence (but be truthful, don’t just make shit up or garnish the details, otherwise you could threaten your entire case).
  • Providing evidence in a summary spreadsheet is a good idea (as per the example provided).
  • Landlords and their agents would likely be much more successful with their claims if they presented their case briefly stating:
    • what the dispute was over
    • evidence of CONDITION at check in
    • evidence of CONDITION at check out
    • evidence of cost to repair/replace (or hours spent if actually done by landlord)
  • Yes, photos are useful to backup a point in a check in/out report, but it is no substitute for a good check in condition inventory/report.

Use this information in conjunction with the guidance provided by your tenancy deposit scheme

Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme all have their own guides on how to make a successful claim.

I’ve read through them and they’re useful (but all very same-same) so definitely worth consuming before making a claim. However, they clearly don’t provide the same valuable insight only available from someone in the trenches, like Fanny, who actually has to plough through our relentless drivel and make the decisions.

The fanny-tastic information we have been gifted not only helps us to better organise and present evidence, but also allows us to retrospectively compile better inventories in the future.

Using a professional inventory clerk

Before I peace out, I do want to mention that while doing your own inventory report independently is perfectly valid (and cost-effective), it’s generally not as reliable as using a professional inventory clerk, least of all because of the impartiality they bring to the table. (one of three Government approved deposit schemes) states the following:

The adjudicator will use the inventories to compare the property condition at the beginning and end of the tenancy and without it, they’re highly likely to reject the landlord’s claim.

Those considered to be the best evidence will usually:

  • have been prepared by a third party such as a professional inventory clerk
  • contain dated photos
  • have been signed by the tenant offers a service which you can easily order/book online (it’s a shameless affiliate link, but that’s certainly not why I’m sharing their service. I’m open to other recommendations as long as they’re not total bullshit)…

Professional Inventory and Condition Report
Notes / Includes

  • A must have report for deposit disputes
  • Photos, readings & smoke alarms
  • Approve digitally with ease
  • Make a deposit claim easy
  • Inventory clerks are accredited by the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC)

*The cost of the landlord inventory service is determined by the size of the property, the number of bedrooms and whether the property is to be let furnished or unfurnished. Cost starts from £89 (with discount code).

*£89Inc VAT
(Normal price: £99)
Visit website

Please note, I try my best to keep the information of each service up-to-date, but you should read the T&C’s from their website for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

If you have any experience with making a Tenancy Deposit compensation claim, I’d love to hear your story (“love” is a bit strong, but it would be cool), and what would be even better is if you have any nuggets to share!

Once again, big thanks to Fanny for dropping the wisdom.

I’m outie xoxo

P.s. I hope you never actually have to rely on this information, because that would suck balls. But I’m here for you if you do.

Source link