Q.I have recently found a tenant for my property and have been advised by my letting agent that I should have an inventory made and check-in compiled by an independent inventory clerk. Could I save this additional cost and compile it myself?

A. While you could, we would strongly advise that you take your agent’s advice. The independent clerk is there to observe and document not only the contents of the property, but also the overall condition of it at the commencement of the tenancy. Therefore, even if you are renting an unfurnished property, the clerk will make a note of the condition of the walls, flooring, ceilings, white goods etc; if damage is caused to the property during the tenancy above the accepted fair wear and tear, you can make a claim for this from the tenant’s deposit. In the event of a dispute, prior to the case potentially going to court, the inventory clerks will often act as an independent arbitrator and – given their experience within this field – are able to give accurate advice to both the landlord and tenant as to whom the responsibility and therefore costs lie with. If an agreement is still unable to be reached and the dispute goes to court, the inventory check-in and check-out are legally binding documents upon which the judge will base their ruling.

Q. My agent says that they will register my tenant’s deposit with the Dispute Service operating the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, can you explain what this is?

A.In a nutshell, all deposits taken by a landlord or agent for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, started after 6 April 2007 and where the annual rent does not exceed £100,000 (England and Wales), must be registered with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes guarantee that tenants will get their deposits back at the end of the tenancy, if they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement and do not damage the property. Landlords must protect their tenants' deposits using a TDP scheme. Approved schemes are Deposit Protection Service (DPS), MyDeposits, Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). From 6 April 2012 deposits must be protected and the prescribed information provided within 30 days of the commencement of the tenancy. If you do not protect your tenants' deposits when required to, your tenants can take you to court and you may have to repay the deposit and pay a fine of up to three times the value of the original deposit.