The number of rental deposit disputes lodged with Hamilton Fraser’s government-authorised deposit scheme, mydeposits, has fallen by 15% across England so far this year.
Analysis by Hamilton Fraser’s sister company, deposit replacement provider Ome, found that London, the South East and the North East have seen the largest drop in deposit disputes (-23%) so far in 2020, compared to the same time last year.
Deposit disputes are also down in the West Midlands (-16%), Yorkshire and the Humber (-11%), East of England (-8%) and the North West (-2%).
The East Midlands (11%) and the South West (18%) are the only regions to see an increase.
Despite seeing a decline, London still accounts for 37% of all disputes lodged so far this year, with the South East (16%) and South West (10%) next on the list.
At 2%, the North East is home to the lowest number of deposit disputes as a percentage of all disputes in England.
The main reason for withholding a deposit has been for post-tenancy cleaning, which accounts for 26% of all deposit disputes.
Damage to the property and the deposit not being returned in the first place are also some of the most common reasons that deposits were withheld (20%).
The average deposit amount being disputed has remained unchanged at £811; however, on average, tenants have been awarded 2% less of the average deposit when compared to last year, while landlords are receiving 2% more on the average deposit dispute.
That said, tenants are still being awarded 67% of their deposit via the average dispute claim.
Matthew Hooker, co-founder of Ome, said: “Lockdown restrictions have prevented many renters from ending their tenancy and this will have contributed to the reduction in deposit disputes seen so far this year.
“However, the majority of disputes already lodged will relate to tenancies that ended prior to lockdown and so it’s encouraging to see a drop none the less.
“It will be interesting to see how this plays out during the rest of the year and if there is a spike in deposit disputes further down the line once lockdown has ended.
“Unlike the backlog of evictions that have amassed due to new government legislation, deposit disputes haven’t been put on hold as a result of the current pandemic as they can still be processed online.
“Therefore there is a good chance this positive trend is here to stay and we still continue to see a more harmonious relationship between landlords and tenants for the months and years to come.”