An open and shut case?

The landlord was claiming £250.00 for damage, to supply and fit new hinges to 3 internal doors; a damaged upvc kitchen window catch; a door closer to the lounge door and a broken latch to a bedroom door. In support of the claim the landlord had provided a quote for £250.00, which contained no detail as to a breakdown of individual costs for each claim.

The tenants disputed all but one of the claims and said that the 3 internal hinges were not closing properly at the start of the tenancy, the latch to the bedroom door was missing at the start of the tenancy and that the kitchen window catch was in the same condition as at the start of the tenancy. The tenants did accept however that the door closer to the lounge needed to be re-fitted.

The check-in report, with embedded photographs recorded that all items were said to be in good order, except where qualified in the description. The doors and windows were said to be intact and in good condition. The check-out report, with embedded photographs, supported all the claims.

There was no evidence that the tenants reported damage to the window or doors at the property either at the start or during the tenancy and based on the evidence the adjudicator found the claims to be justified to some extent. However, the full amount claimed was not awarded as to have done so would have placed the landlord in a better position i.e. items replaced on a new for old basis.

The adjudicator considered the length of the tenancy, the condition of the items claimed as noted at the start of the tenancy, the remaining expected life span of the items claimed, an appropriate allowance was made for fair wear and tear, and the extent of the damage/deterioration evident. An award of £180.00 was made.

So, what is the key point here?

As the claims were supported by a comparison of the check-in and check-out reports, the use of our guidance documents, to include the approach taken by adjudicators in determining the distribution of a deposit at the end of the tenancy and our Adjudication Digest library, would have assisted the disputing parties in resolving this dispute without the need for Adjudication.

A tenant should ensure that they review their check-in report carefully at the start of the tenancy and make amendments and report any issues of concerns or discrepancies to the agent/landlord within the time frame allowed, usually 7 days but this may be a shorter period. This will ensure that they have an audit trail of any amendments or comments made.

A landlord should where possible provide an invoice that details a breakdown of the cost for each individual claim, If this is not provided the adjudicator will determine themselves a fair and reasonable amount for each successful claim.

Sandy Bastin, the author of this article, is head of dispute resolution at TDS

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