Suzy Hershman, Head of Dispute Resolution at mydeposits and Arezu Khoshnevissan, mydeposits Business Development Team Manager, visited Jersey early last month to host a workshop for 20 Jersey-based letting agents. It was a great opportunity to share experiences and for us to get your feedback on the issues that matter most to you in Jersey.
Find out more in our Q&A with Suzy …
What does your role as Head of Dispute Resolution with mydeposits involve?
With nearly 10 years’ experience with mydeposits, I am involved in all areas from adjudication to ensuring best practice, overseeing the complaints department and providing educational materials to the industry. This includes delivering mydeposits interactive workshops and speaking at events on all things deposit and evidence related.
Tell us more about the workshops …
Workshops have been part of my role for over five years now and I still enjoy every one. They are so well-received by our customers, and also a great way for us to ensure we are addressing regional concerns and straightening out any issues our customers are having. The workshops are particularly important in Jersey as the private rental market is quite different to the other regions we operate in - for example, there is no joint association for managing agents where they can discuss practices - feedback from our delegates tells us that the recent workshop was a good example of sharing best practice and business models.
What emerged as the biggest issues for agents in Jersey at the recent mydeposits workshop?
Discussion on inventories was by far the most engrossing part of the workshop. I was able to offer greater understanding to the agents on the do’s and don’ts of inventories. The importance of detail and description are invaluable evidence when it comes to negotiation with landlords and tenants and agreeing on any deductions at the end of the tenancy.
We also talked about cleaning standards, and ‘clean to a professional standard’, as opposed to ‘professionally clean’. This seems insignificant; however, when asked how many agents have used ‘professional’ cleaning companies that can’t clean, and how many of them have experience of tenants that can clean, everyone laughs and the penny starts to drop. The fundamental responsibility of the tenant is to return the property cleaned ‘to the same standard’ it was in at the start. It follows that you cannot make the tenants pay for cleaning if they can do it themselves to the same ‘standard’. Defining those standards takes some work at the start but once they are established, everyone is clear.
Other topics we discussed were standard costs of décor, fair wear and tear and garden tools - all topics for another article!
You can access mydeposits’ resources, providing an overview of fair wear and tear and what is considered fair or excessive damage here.
Based on delegate feedback, what do you think are the most important processes that landlords and agents in Jersey should be undertaking which they are not currently doing?
If I had to pick one thing, it would be inventories as I mentioned above. Many landlords and agents are not currently carrying out a thorough inventory or taking detailed notes and this puts them at a greater risk of disputes.
mydeposits have produced an ‘ Inventory management essentials guide’ to help customers manage the process and minimise the risk of dispute. You can download it here.
What specific concerns about deposits did the delegates share?
An agent was concerned about the length of time it takes to release the monies, having experienced a delay last year. We were able to reassure the customer that we now have a dedicated release team who turn around releases in one to two days and explained that if a customer has any issues involving a delay they should contact Arezu directly.
What kind of issues emerged relating specifically to the private rental market in Jersey?
It seems that there has been an increase in landlords not taking deposits, which is obviously a personal choice. It does, however, concern me that landlords who do not take deposits learn the hard way, suffering damage to their property which would be covered if they had taken a security deposit.
I also understand that the Public Health and Safety (Rented Dwellings) (Jersey) Law 2018 is mooted to come into force from October 2018. Read more about the law here.
mydeposits can sometimes seem a little remote to our Jersey customers. What do you do to overcome this feeling?
In addition to the workshops, we have a dedicated Business Development Executive, Christian Louka and a Business Development Team Manager Arezu Khoshnevissan. You can contact them on 0333 321 9401. In addition, there is a wealth of educational resources available on our mydeposits website here.
For more expert advice from Suzy visit her LinkedIn page here.