Show abusive behaviour the door and let open communication in

You may have read the recent article in The Guardian  (Thousands of tenants in England 'suffering abuse' from private landlords, Wednesday 2nd September) that quotes Shelter’s rogue landlord figures. The numbers quoted, and the article as a whole, give real pause for thought.

The tenancy deposits that we protect are disputed in just 2.5% of cases, however this still represents a large number of people and we’d love to see this figure go down. This is why we encourage and promote open lines of communication between all parties, and lots of our tweets and blogs have been dedicated to this topic.

If a landlord and tenant cannot reach an agreement, they do have the opportunity to use our free Dispute Resolution service. Throughout this process, we encourage the landlord and tenant to be as open as possible with one another and we’ve been encouraged to see around 25% of the cases that go into dispute get resolved before reaching an adjudicator.

All of this aside, any incidence of abusive or unfair behaviour  is completely unacceptable and cannot be taken lightly. Landlords and tenants alike should be fully aware of their rights and responsibilities. They must also respect those of the other party at all times.

In order to foster an open and respectful relationship between landlord and tenant, there are a number of things both parties can do. For example, a detailed inventory should be prepared by the landlord, checked by the tenant, and agreed upon by both parties at the start of the tenancy.

Also, tenants should ask their prospective landlord with whom they intend to protect their deposit. Once the money has changed hands, they should check to confirm this. Shelter’s online deposit checker will help you do this. Landlords must also provide tenants with the ‘Prescribed Information’, explaining how the deposit has been protected.

Tenants should also be invited to attend a ‘check-out’ before leaving the property. Our figures show that as many as 48% either aren’t asked to attend, or fail to show up. The check-out is vital, as it allows landlords and tenants to meet face-to-face and discuss any issues they have with the property, or with the findings of the other party.

Inventories and check-outs are, in our opinion two of the most important factors for any tenancy to run smoothly. More important still, however, is frank, ongoing communication between landlords and tenants, and a sense of mutual respect. 

We'll be sharing our top 10 check-out tips with you shortly. In the meantime, take a look at our inventory top tips to help you create a clear and detailed inventory.