Landlord loses deposit case after damage in communal area

Reason for deposit dispute: Damage to flooring
Amount of deposit in dispute: £1,899.60
Dispute initiated by: Tenant
Award to tenant: £1,899.60
Award to landlord: £0.00


The landlord’s claim

In this dispute, a landlord claimed for the replacement of an area of damaged flooring in the weights section of the building’s communal gym. As evidence, they provided a check-in report and a check-out report.

The tenant’s response

The tenants denied the claim, arguing the gym flooring was already damaged through use of the weights section by other residents. They also argued that the tenancy agreement did not specify obligations concerning the communal areas. Therefore they argued their deposit should not be used to pay for any damage.

The TDS adjudicator’s decision

The adjudicator noted that the tenancy agreement confirmed that where the tenancy is part of a larger building, ‘the property’ did include the use of communal areas and facilities. Therefore, the tenant’s argument that they had no obligations for the condition of communal areas did not stand.

However, the landlord’s claim still failed. There are two key reasons:

  • The gym was used by other residents. Therefore the tenants would be not solely liable for damage.
  • There was no evidence of the floor’s condition at the start of the tenancy. There was evidence of damage at the end of the tenancy – however, the check-in report made no reference to this area and no comparison of condition could be made. The adjudicator had no way to know how much damage was caused during the tenant’s occupation – if any.

So what are the key points here?

The adjudicator was satisfied that under the terms of this tenancy agreement the tenants were responsible for communal areas of the property, including the residents’ gym.

However, the adjudicator was not able to conclude that this tenant was liable for the alleged damage or that they were negligent in their use of the weights or the gym floor. With the gym available to all tenants and no evidence either of the floor’s condition at the start of the tenancy or that he had caused the damage visible at the end, there was not enough to satisfy the adjudicator that the tenant was responsible.

The case serves to highlight the importance of a properly completed check-in report that covers the full extent of the tenant’s liability under the wider terms of the tenancy agreement.


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