Dealing with deposits when letting a property in Edinburgh is complicated and it needs to be done in the right way. Tenancy deposits in Scotland must legally be held by a Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) for the duration of a tenancy. The TDS will determine what deductions, if any, should be taken from the deposit at the end of the tenancy. It’s important that landlords take specific steps prior to each tenancy to maximise the chances of claiming money from a tenant’s deposit, if required.
A thorough Inventory
To track damage to flooring, decoration, fixtures, fittings and furnishings it’s essential that a thorough inventory is recorded prior to each tenancy. Tenants are liable for breakages, missing items and damage to the property which is more than fair wear and tear. It’s vitally important that the inventory is recorded well so landlords have a clear record of how the property was prior to each tenancy.
By instructing a 3rd party professional inventory clerk to carry out the inventory, landlords can be sure they have a thorough record of the property which can be referred to when the tenant vacates. As Safe Deposits Scotland (1 of the 3 TDS schemes available) states; “The importance of a properly completed inventory cannot be underestimated. Tenancy deposit protection schemes do not disregard, out of hand, inventories that are not prepared by independent companies or individuals. However, they are likely to place less weight on their contents”.
A professional clean
Properties should be handed over to tenants in a clean condition. This not only sets the bar nice and high with ingoing tenants; giving a great first impression and starting a positive relationship with them. It also allows for deductions to be made from the deposit if the tenant does not leave the property in the same state when they move out. While a professional inventory will offer a written and photographic record of the cleanliness of the property, in order to maximise the chances of making a deduction from the tenant’s deposit a professional clean should be carried out.
As explained by Safe Deposits Scotland; “A landlord can support their claim by producing invoices or receipts for work carried out by a professional cleaning contractor, as costs are usually balanced against market rates and geographical location.”. Even if a landlord intends to carry out some element of cleaning prior to renting, a professional clean (even if it’s super-light-touch) is important so that landlords have that vital invoice to be submitted to the TDS if needbe.
Adequate time between tenancies
It’s important that there is plenty time between tenancies, or before the first tenancy, to prepare the property for let. Five working days will allow all safety certificates to be carried out and will allow enough time for a professional inventory and professional clean. More often than not, some work or cleaning is needed between tenancies following a checkout inspection. If there is not enough time to complete any work, things might be rushed or missed (often due to different suppliers fighting over access/keys for the property in a short space of time). This can set relationships with new tenants off to a bad start and potentially jeopardises the chances of making a deduction from the tenant’s deposit a few years down the line due to incomplete information (a sub-standard inventory or lack of proof of a professional clean).
As mentioned earlier dealing with deposits when letting a property in Edinburgh is complicated, so in order to maximise the chances of making a deposit deduction, landlords should hold onto original receipts/invoices for furnishings, decoration and carpeting. Likewise, following each tenancy it’s important that landlords have receipts for replacement items or remedial works to be submit to the TDS as part of a claim. When claiming, landlords and tenants have to follow guidelines on the useful lifespan of furnishings/carpets/etc and will have to take into account a depreciated value of each item to be claimed.
At Umega Lettings our deposits are held by Safe Deposits Scotland. We insist on professional cleans, and professional inventories for each tenancy along with at least 5 working days between each tenancy to ensure a smooth check in/check out process. We do everything we can to ensure we set off with a positive relationship with our tenants and that there is complete transparency when dealing with deductions at the end of any tenancy.