Cleaning costs are the top reason cited for deposit deductions, new data from the The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) reveals.

This issue affects 63 per cent of landlords who had entered the DPS’ Dispute Resolution Service over the past year.

And a further 53 per cent said that they needed to deduct money in order to pay for damage caused by tenants.

The DPS is one of the three government-approved vehicles that UK landlords can use to store their tenants’ deposits under an assured shorthold tenancy (AST).

Tenancies ending in dispute between the landlord and the tenant are still in a minority in the UK, with 98 per cent of tenancies ending without the need to appeal for a deposit reduction, according to Julian Foster, managing director of the DPS.

He added: “Many of the problems that lead to deductions can be avoided when both tenant and landlord are aware of their responsibilities and stay in regular communication throughout the tenancy.”

Redecoration was the next most common reason for a tenant losing some of their deposit, cited by 37 per cent of landlords, followed by rent arrears for 23 per cent, gardening costs for 16 per cent, replacing missing items for 16 per cent, and paying outstanding bills for 4 per cent.

The DPS also looked at what the most common cleaning tasks at the end of tenancies were, revealing that ovens were the most problematic.

Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes, head of adjudication, said: “I’m always amazed how many tenants have lived in a property for maybe a year or so but say they have ‘never’ used the ovens.”

After ovens was extractor fans, which are often left dirty and needing their filters replaced, while dirty toilets, kitchen sinks, and skirting boards and light switches were also often overlooked by tenants leaving a property.

Most landlords have good relationships with tenants, the study found, but added that communication is key to avoid these kinds of disputes.

The DPS recommends making it very clear from the outset what is expected from tenants at the end of their tenancies.

At the start of a tenancy, landlords or agents should ensure that a comprehensive inventory documenting the property’s condition is carried out and issued to the tenant, who will be required to sign the document and agree to return the property in the same state as it was taken on.

Richard Truman, Head of Operations at Simple Landlords Insurance adds; “It’s great to hear that landlords have good relationships with their tenants and disputes over deposit deductions are in the minority.

“Although it isn’t compulsory, taking a detailed inventory at the start of a tenancy, with photographic evidence, means disputes about the state of the property at the end of a tenancy can be more easily resolved. Inspections are also key. Keeping an eye on your property and spotting small issues before they become bigger problems is just common sense.”

For more information, check out Simple’s guide to Tenancy Deposit Schemes , our guide to inventories, and our guide to inspections.