Dispute Decisions

The information and links on this page have been gathered from the various Government backed Deposit Scheme websites and information pages.

What Is A Dispute?

When tenancies come to an end there are quite often disagreements over whether the landlord/agent retains the deposit held or the tenant receives it back.

If the deposit is protected by one of the Government backed tenancy deposit schemes then the dispute can be referred to an Arbitrator and resolved by a professional, impartial adjudicator.

Current Government backed schemes are:

They will decide how much should be awarded to each party based on the evidence that you supply

Inventory & Check In Reports

Mid Term Reports

Check Out Reports

Photographic Proof – Before and After

Detailed descriptions, contracts and quotations for repairs etc.

Useful guides produced by TDS – Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Here are a few examples of real life cases involving Landlords, Agents and Tenants. They cover why the dispute occurred, how it was handled and who claimed what and the outcomes of the cases. We have covered the main areas that come into dispute giving several cases as examples:

Adjudication Digest 1
Adjudication Digest No 3 2012
Carpet Cleaning - Case Study
Garden Maintenance - Case Study
Locks - Case Study
Tenant Deposit Dispute Case Studies - Redecoration
Tenant Deposit Dispute Case Studies - Damaged and missing items

Wear And Tear – What Is Fair?

A Guide for Landlords & Agents

There are no precise rules on what is ‘reasonable wear and tear’. Below are some pointers from MyDeposits to help Landlords & Agents decide what is and what is not, fair wear and tear.

Domestic tenancies must allow for reasonable wear and tear.

Unsurprisingly, there are no precise rules on what is ‘reasonably acceptable’. Is that carpet just well used or irretrievably stained? What about picture hooks left on the sitting room wall? Or the cooker that looks as if it has produced a good three meals a day, every day?

The House of Lords defines fair wear and tear as:

‘Reasonable use of the premises by the Tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces’

Not exactly precise! When do ‘natural forces’ become ‘extreme heavy use’ or worse?

Below are some pointers from MyDeposits to help landlords decide what’s fair and what’s not. Clearly there are financial consequences when it comes to returning all or only part of a tenant’s deposit, so they should be viewed in the context of each particular tenancy.


The longer the tenancy, the more natural wear. Common sense, but think, for example, how much wear a carpet in your own home shows after one, two or three years. Also consider what it’s condition was in the first place? Was it brand new or has it already seen a few tenancies come and go? Take account of all these factors.


The more bedrooms and occupants, the higher the wear and tear in all the common parts – sitting room, passages, stairs, bathrooms and kitchen. If some of them are children, you have to factor that in too. Scuffs and scrapes are unavoidable in normal family life. A property occupied by a singleton will see far less wear than a family of four, so bear this in mind when it’s time for tenants to check out. There is an actual AIIC approved formula for this.


When is it no longer normal wear? If it’s in good condition at the start of the tenancy but broken at the end – meaning either replacement or repair by a specialist. Or if it’s possibly more than a conventional job painter and decorator? Light marks on the carpet might have to be viewed as unavoidable: fist marks in the plaster would not be. Equally, damage such as nail varnish spills on the floor or iron burns that have occurred due to negligence could see the tenant liable for repair. Consider whether the item has been damaged or worn out through natural use versus sheer negligence when making a judgement call.
In a debate about whether cleaning/repair is necessary versus complete replacement at the end of the tenancy, an adjudicator will examine the Check-in/out report, Statement of condition and any photos in order to make an assessment of the condition of the property in relation to the original condition


Another consideration is the quality or fabric of the property itself. Many new builds tend not to be quite as robust as older properties or conversions. Walls, partitions and internal painted surfaces tend to be thinner and therefore likely to suffer more stress, particularly in higher footfall areas of the property. This inevitably means that there is a greater need for redecoration at the end of the tenancy period.


There are a number of ways in which wear and tear can be kept to a minimum. Firstly, keeping tenants happy; renewing their tenancies or allowing them to roll on to a Statutory Periodic Tenancy to reduce tenant turnover means that you will not be redecorating/renewing the property as frequently as you would for shorter tenancies.
Secondly, if tenants are in for longer periods of time, say two years plus, try to freshen up the property at regular interims. For example, you could change the carpet or paint a room. Strategic upgrades or enhancement of the property on a regular basis helps to maintain the standard of the property and reduces the need for refurbishment at the end of the tenancy period. Treating the property as an owner occupier would means that you are ultimately minimising the wear and tear and need for redecoration when the tenant moves out.
Finally, set your expectations of the tenants from the outset. Remind them that regular cleaning and maintenance can keep a property in good condition. Perhaps conduct a regular check every three months or so, particularly early on the tenancy, to check that everything is in order.


Photo inventories are a helpful means of recording the condition of the property pre and post the tenancy and should provide a clear record of the property prior to its occupation. Equally, being able to document and provide photographic evidence to support a claim against a tenant will help everyone know where they stand. Make sure all photographic evidence is clearly dated and signed by both parties.
For example, you should try to capture photos of burn marks/permanent carpet stains, damage to flooring, scratches/damage to woodwork, tears and rips in furniture. Photos evidence on their own may not be sufficient, so support this with a comprehensive, detailed inventory. If you are preparing the inventory yourself, rather than using an independent specialist, ensure that the tenant is provided with a copy, both at the Check-in/Check-out stage, and signs a copy so that they understand, and have a chance to discuss with you, what deductions you are proposing to take from the deposit.
Ultimately, the higher the quality of your evidence you have the better, so keep the inventory, photos, receipts and correspondence safe and ensure everything is signed and dated by both parties.


It is important to correctly describe the condition of items when listing them e.g. if something is down as ‘brand new’ it needs supporting bills/receipts to prove this.


Remember that the adjudication process in the event of a dispute, is independent and like a court of law, evidence based. An adjudicator cannot ‘assume’ and can only make a decision based on the evidence provided to them. You cannot challenge an adjudication decision unless it is via a Court of Law. The more evidence you produce and the more transparent you are with the tenant the higher your chance of success if a dispute is brought against you.
MyDeposits cannot interfere or ‘review’ any decision made by the adjudicator and cannot tell you what evidence will be acceptable to the adjudicator and what will not.


Wear and tear is a topic that is open to interpretation. Ultimately, as landlord, your aim is firstly to minimise the level of wear and tear in your properties and secondly to ensure that you have covered all bases in the unlikely event of a dispute with your tenant over the return of the deposit.
The above guide was produced by the Government backed MyDeposit Scheme – 12/09/2011


See what our customers have to say…

  • Called them out to do an inventory and check-in on one of my properties after a horrendous mess up with an Agent. Not only did they do it properly but it was done and emailed to me within 40 minutes of being completed. Im still waiting on one from my Agent after 4 weeks!!!. Worth the money and cheaper than agents

    Jenny Cane
  • Had a superb experience with this company. The inventory is very thorough and detailed . The best I have seen . They are very professional and reliable . Worth every penny x thanks guys

    Helen Piper
  • PiMS have been a breath of fresh air to deal with. We were impressed by the amount of detail included in their reports. The customer service has been exemplary. Many thanks

    Becci Parkin
  • Very professional .... couldn't believe how efficient .... was also pleased how they did a copy of the inventory in polish for my polish tenant ... it took away all the language barrier..... wouldn't hesitate to re use this company .

    Julia Cracknell
  • Came out same day we called, completed inventory and then checked tenant in. We had the paperwork signed and returned by the evening. Couldn't fault at all. Amazing in-depth inventory with HD photos and forensic measurements, polite and knowledgeable clerk. Best inventory we've ever had done in the uk with any of our lettings. Thanks PiMS

    Karen Trett
  • Highly professional and really prompt service. I was totally reassured that this stage of re-letting my property would be dealt with swiftly & smoothly and they didn't fail to deliver. I recommend that all that are in tenancy services make a very wise decision and use PIMS to avoid any unnecessary and costly situations that can & do often arise.

    Sadie Charles
  • Wow. Now that's what I call an inventory. Detailed, forensic and delivered the same day. In Hd. Every inch of the property covered. Lovely clerk too. Polite, knowledgeable and professional. Thanks PiMS

    Carl Simpson
  • Emma was very nice and professional. Property was checked and inspected quick and thoroughly. I am happy knowing that an independent company is backing me up with my tenancy. They really CARE. Their approach and personal treatment was spotless. 5 stars positive feedback

    Ruben Lopez Catalan
  • I needed an inventory on my 5 bed property. Ruth came out and meticulously recorded all details of my property in a 260 page report with 800 photos in HD. The report was emailed to me and also sent to my tenant. My tenant could iopen it and read it going through the prooperty and could then remotley sign it. I didnt need to come up from Surrey to do the check in or anything. Sorted out there and then in the most exceptional and professional manner.  The report is also tracked and stored securely. PiMS are the best inventory company I've seen in Lincs. Will only use PiMS from now on. Thanks ladies

    Hilary Brown Landlord
  • Fantastic result. Agent said I shouldnt bother to claim but I stuck to my guns and with the check out report Pims did for me I challenged the deposit return myself. Despite paying my agent to do that! Im pleased I did, the report was so indepth and unchallengeable that it was straight forward and the money was with me within 6 days. Now I can repair ther damage the tenants did and re-let, but not with that agent.

    Mrs Jameson
  • Emma and Ruth provide a very professional service with a personal friendly touch. I would definitely recommend PIMS Ltd.

    Emma and Ruth provide a very professional service with a personal friendly touch. I would definitely recommend PIMS Ltd. director
  • Emma and Ruth provide a very professional service with a personal friendly touch. I would definitely recommend PIMS Ltd.

    Liz Ramella Director
  • The service provided by Emma and Ruth was amazing. They are very professional and genuinely aim, to help you feel satisfied. I would 100% recommend PIMS Ltd

  • Very professional and efficient.. a great service and good value for money.. can highly recommend Emma and Ruth.. will definitely be using them again..

    Slim Shady Director/Owner

Contact us today, in Lincoln, to obtain more details about our wide-ranging property inventory services.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search