Guide to tenancy deposits, disputes and damages

DPS mydeposits TDS logoFor the first time, the three approved bodies that run the Tenancy Deposit Scheme have collaborated to produce a guide designed to ensure the tenancy dispute process is transparent for all parties. It introduces the concept of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and the adjudicators whose job it is to decide on disputed cases, recommends ways to avoid disputes developing, explains the types of evidence that can be used and when they should be presented, and provides information about how wear and tear should be dealt with.

Key points within the tenancy deposits guide are:

  • The introduction of the tenancy deposit protection scheme
  • What is alternative dispute resolution?
  • Avoiding disputes
  • What evidence will an adjudicator look for when considering a dispute?
  • Types of Evidence
  • The tenancy agreement
  • Inventory reports & check-in/check-out inspections
  • Photographic/video evidence
  • Invoices/receipts/estimates/quotations
  • Cleaning charges
  • Rent account statements
  • Standard agency charges
  • Utility bills/Council Tax
  • Witenss statements/other evidence
  • Wear and Tear


It’s not possible to provide generalised guidance on the levels of deductions as each dispute must be assessed individually. The following factors, however, will normally be considered:

  • The longer the tenancy, the greater the allowance that should be made for fair wear and tear. An item’s condition at onset is also very relevant
  • Larger properties, with more occupiers, can normally be expected to suffer from heavier wear and tear than smaller properties. Families with children will also produce more wear and tear than tenants without children, and this must be accepted by the landlord from the start
  • What is damage and what is fair wear and tear? Whilst small marks may have to be seen as acceptable, damage caused by negligence is not. Consider whether an item has just been worn out, or if it has been damaged (by spilt nail varnish, or burns, etc.)
  • The original quality and condition of any item is important. Landlords can’t expect cheap and flimsy furniture to last as long as more substantial furniture, and adjudicators may need to see invoices or other evidence relating to the original cost. They will also consider whether lower quality materials (paints/curtains/carpets etc) have been used, as well as the type and age of the property itself

When considering whether cleaning/repair is more suitable than replacement, adjudicators will examine check-in/check-out reports, statements of condition, and photographs/videos of the property before and after the tenancy. He will consider the age and condition of an item at the start of the tenancy before awarding sums in recognition of damage caused. Even if the tenant admits to the damage, an award for full replacement will not always be given if an item is already part way through it’s useful life.

Step By Step Guide

To give yourself the best chance of success in any ultimate dispute, the 3 scheme operators suggest following this simple step by step guide:

  • When taking a deposit, protect it within 14 days from receipt
  • Consider any deductions you plan to make from a deposit and ask yourself if it is fair. Discuss any concerns you have with your tenant to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a dispute
  • Familiarise yourself with the tenancy deposit scheme’s rules and processes. Schemes are allowed to make awards to tenants if landlords break the rules
  • View any evidence you submit from the eyes of someone who does not know the property, and consider whether your evidence would convince them of your case
  • When agreeing to adjudication, remember that you cannot challenge the decision unless you challenge it through the courts

Copies of the guides from the three providers can be downloaded here:

Deposit Protection Service  my |  Tenancy Deposit Scheme

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