Letting agents should take larger deposits to cover costs incurred at the end of a tenancy, the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks has claimed.
Repairs and cleaning costs are not always covered by the money taken for deposits according to the organisation, potentially leaving landlords and agents out of pocket.
“Landlords and agents may need to review the deposits they take to ensure they will cover any potential costs incurred at check-out,” AIIC chair Pat Barber told Property Reporter.
“In some parts of the UK, the deposit simply is not enough to cover the costs to return the property back to its original condition at the end of the tenancy should things go badly wrong.”
According to the AIIC, the average deposit in the UK is now £1,197.73, up significantly from the average amount recorded in 2007, which stood at £893.82.
Despite this increase, the organisation also said there is widespread variation between regions, with landlords in some areas taking much higher deposits.
In London, the typical deposit is £1,760.30, compared to the north east and Yorkshire and Humber where average deposits stood at £602.38 and £592.75 respectively.
Ms Barber also said that letting agents and landlords should gather sufficient evidence that should then be used if a tenant disputes a charge.
A highly detailed inventory which is signed and agreed by both a landlord and tenant at the start of a tenancy sets out the standard of upkeep that is expected.
Any invoices for cleaning work at the end of a tenancy should also be kept to provide a breakdown of costs relating to any charges.
Maintenance and repair work can significantly eat into any returns on a buy to let rental property, so landlords should ensure they protect these returns as much as possible.
The AIIC said photographic and video records should be used alongside written sheets to outline every part of a property.
A landlord or letting agent should also carry out a thorough check at the end of a tenancy with the tenant – doing so improves the chances of a landlord winning a case should a dispute go to court.