Deposit dispute: Agent’s ‘vague’ check-in report lacked enough evidence to help landlord

Now you see it, now you don’t…

This case study highlights the need for properly completed check-in and check-out reports recording an accurate and complete record of the condition of the property for the start and end of the tenancy.

The tenant raised, at the end of their two-year tenancy, a dispute as they were unhappy that the landlord was wanting to claim the full amount of their deposit for various items in need of repair. The check-in report was completed by the agent, but was vague about the condition of items, saying only that they were ‘clean, bright and fresh unless otherwise stated’.

The check-in report had no detail as to the condition of the décor, fixtures, fittings and furnishings, e.g. whether items were new for the start of the tenancy or if the décor was freshly painted; nor was it clear that the property had been professionally cleaned throughout. There were no photographs taken which might have helped the adjudicator to compare the items in disrepair at the end of tenancy.

The parties agreed that the landlord had inspected the property prior to the end of the tenancy and issued the tenants with a list of items that needed putting right.

The landlord claimed that the works were necessary to return the items to the same standard as the check-in report.

The evidence presented to TDS did not include any check-out report to support the claim. The agents submitted what could only be described as a ‘statement of claim’, a list compiled following the landlord’s visit prior to check-out.

Although this list included amounts to be deducted from the deposit for making good, no estimates or quotations were provided. The tenant stated that the items claimed for had been put right before he left the property, which the landlord and agent denied.

While many photographs were taken during the landlord’s visit, these were of limited use without similar photographs taken at the start of the tenancy – or without a more detailed check-in report, against which a comparison could be made.

The adjudicator found that he could not be certain about the condition of the items claimed for at the start of the tenancy.

Given the length of the tenancy, the expected level of wear and tear that would otherwise have occurred, and with no further evidence to confirm the exact state and condition in which the tenant left the property after the landlord’s visit, it was not possible for the adjudicator to conclude that the tenant had failed to meet his obligations.

After adjudication, the agents produced several photographs taken of a few items at the start of the tenancy. These had not previously been referred to by any of the parties before the adjudication was completed.

TDS can only adjudicate based on the evidence submitted by the parties. It is up to the parties to present their claim in full including any relevant information they want the adjudicator to consider.

So what are the key points here?

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11 Comments

  1. Orson67

    What’s the point, these “unbiased” adjudicators are so pro tenant that unless the place has been completely trashed you may as well not bother making a small claim against the deposit, you won’t win and even if by some fluke you do get a result you’ll find you’ve been working for about a pound and hour on the matter.

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    1. CountryLass

      I had a Tenant who actually signed a letter stating that they were happy for the deposit to be kept by the Landlord to cover the cost of clearing the property of belongings they were unable or unwilling to remove. She signed it on the last day of the Tenancy, as she handed the keys back. The property needed work, but she had been in there for a while and the Landlord was not planning to ask for any extra. They hadn’t got us to do an inventory, but were able to provide invoices showing that the property had been decorated throughout with new carpets. The tenant then changed her mind, offered £100 through arbitration and got the rest back!

      The Landlord provided pictures of the stuff left, as well as the damage above and beyond wear and tear but still lost…

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      1. Woodentop

        TDS???

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  2. Woodentop

    The adjudicator will still consider reports that are not from independent inventory clerks – but are likely to place less weight on their contents

     

    WHY? Evidence is evidence if it is corroborated. Another reason not to use TDS.

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  3. Malevole

    This is an example of positive consumer protection against a landlord who was at best too lazy or too foolish to do his or her job properly, and at worst unscrupulous. The standard of evidence in the UK is innocent until proven guilty. If a landlord cannot produce evidence to support a claim then such a claim shouldn’t be made in the first place.
     

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    1. Woodentop

      Aye, but the head of adjudication with the TDS is now saying, we are unlikely to believe your own evidence even if you have it. SHOCKING and disgraceful mind set for TDS to adopt.

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      1. Malevole

        Sir, i’m afraid I disagree with your statement. I believe the TDS has acted in a correct and transparent way. All the evidence must be submitted before the adjudication.

        Consider the situation otherwise. We cannot delay legal judgements indefinitely on the off chance some further piece of evidence might surface.

        The article states that the landlord subsequently discovered “a few pictures of some items”. This doesn’t sound like convincing evidence to me.

        If there are grounds for appeal then the landlord ought to follow the correct procedures, although judging by what we already know about the landlord following the correct procedures seems unlikely.

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        1. Orson67

          They are just plain biased mate, I recently lost a claim for clearing a large pile of rubbish and unwanted items left by the tenants outside the property in the front garden. My photographs clearly showed the stuff and the date was the day the tenants vacated. This was rejected by the adjudicator as I didn’t have a photograph of the property (from seven years previously when the tenants moved in) with no rubbish in the front garden, the claim being that this rubbish could have been there from BEFORE their tenancy commenced, or could have been dumped there by a third party in the two hours between the tenants going and me arriving at the place.  IF THAT ISN’T BOTH NONSENSE AND BIASED, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS. The w****** at TDS strike again.

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        2. Woodentop

          Malevole,
          Sir, i’m afraid I disagree with your statement.  
           
          Please read my statement ……..  ‘head of adjudication with the TDS is now saying, we are unlikely to believe your own evidence even if you have it. SHOCKING and disgraceful mind set for TDS to adopt’. This is in response to Sandy Bastin stating that submissions of ANY EVIDENCE that is submitted to TDS for any cases  ……  
           
          The adjudicator will still consider reports that are not from independent inventory clerks – but are likely to place less weight on their contents.

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  4. Ms Sunshine

    The worse one I’ve dealt with was a tenant who didn’t leave for 2 weeks after notice was served correctly. My landlords couldn’t move back in – the wife was newly pregnant. They stayed in cheap hotels & air B&B and ate out cheaply.We submitted all receipts & explanations but lost any claim for their costs. Reason given was the Landlords should not have reasonably expected the tenant to move out on the day she was meant to.

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  5. Woodentop

    TDS is a broken model and should have its accreditation revoked.

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