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Landlords across Sussex face big problems from this month as the first assured shorthold tenancies with deposits registered under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme come to an end. Brighton-based specialist landlord solicitors’ martin searle solicitors (www.ms-solicitors) are warning landlords to take preventative measures in order to ensure their tenancies end with as few problems as possible.

martin searle solicitors director Cate Searle who provides legal advice for landlords explains: “As of April 6, 2007, all landlords letting property under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement are required to register the deposit with one of three government approved schemes. The aim is to provide clarity and security by means of having deposits either held by a third party (under the custodial scheme) or protected by payment of an insurance premium by the landlord (the insurance-based schemes).

“However, many in the industry fear that as these tenancies come to an end tenants will dispute all proposed deductions from their deposits since raising a dispute through the Alternative Dispute Resolution Service (ADR) costs them nothing. To many tenants, using the ADR will be more attractive than bringing a small claim in the County Court. Agents and landlords, on the other hand, act for themselves and must fund the cost of obtaining estimates and arguing their case.”

Cate suggests landlords can take a number of simple steps to discourage tenants from falsely challenging deductions in the first place and to prevent landlords’ deductions being rejected should the case go to the ADR. The advice for landlords includes having thorough and up-to-date inventories and schedules of condition at the start of any new tenancy and at the start of any renewal of an existing tenancy. Landlords should also ensure they have evidence of any expenditure resulting from tenant damage.

Cate says: “The inventory is now a much more important document. If a landlord wants to deduct money from the deposit they need to be able to prove the condition of the damaged item at the start of the tenancy. An inaccurate inventory can ruin any attempt to recover money from the tenant.”

A factsheet of further advice for landlords is available online at http://www.ms-solicitors.co.uk/Housing_law/index.html.

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For further information contact Cate Searle direct on 01273 609911 or cate@ms-solicitors.co.uk

Notes to editors:

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme was introduced on 6 April 2007. The scheme covers England and Wales and was welcomed by many landlord and tenants groups. The main aim of the scheme is to safeguard deposits and ensure that they are returned swiftly at the end of the tenancy if there are no rent arrears and if the tenant has kept the property in good condition. All landlords letting property under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement are now required by law to register the deposit with an approved scheme. Further information at: www.direct.gov.uk/en/TenancyDeposit/index.htm

Brighton-based martin searle solicitors speciliase in providing legal advice for landlords and tenants. The firm can help with all legal issues relating to landlord and tenant problems including rent arrears and rent arrears policy. The firm also offers specialist advice in the areas of employment and community care law.

For more information visit www.ms-solicitors.co.uk

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