Reflecting on the outcome of a recent claim against a deposit for damages

Sandy Bastin

The landlords were seeking £200.00 for the redecoration of certain walls at the end of the tenancy.  It was not clear which areas the landlords were referring to; however, it appeared from the estimate provided by the landlord, in support of the claim that the claim related to the bedrooms and some areas of the hall.

The check-in report recorded the décor as being in used order, referring to heavy scuffs and chips to the walls and woodwork in the hall and scuffs to the walls in the bedrooms. The check-out report referred to additional chips to the woodwork in the hall and bedroom 2.  The report did not record any decline in the condition of any walls in the hall or bedrooms.

The check-out report did not support the claim in that it did not show any deterioration to the décor of the hall or bedroom walls.  The adjudicator needed however to consider the additional chips to the woodwork recorded in both rooms.

In a rental property, the lifespan of décor depends on the area within the property.  A greater level of wear and tear should be expected in high traffic areas, such as a hallway, stairs and landings, than perhaps other rooms within the property.  A landlord should also not expect to renew décor because of minor marks or damage that falls within the scope of fair wear and tear. A landlord is also not entitled to the full cost of remedial work on a ‘new for old’ basis as this would be placing the landlord in a better position than s/he would have been in at the start of the tenancy.  It is expected that rental properties will require redecoration at intervals, at the landlords’ expense due to normal use alone.

In this case, the adjudicator considered the length of the tenancy, the condition of the woodwork recorded at check-in, the level of fair wear to be expected during the tenancy given its occupants and the extent of the additional chips to the woodwork.  The chips were found to be few and of a minor nature, persuading the adjudicator that the woodwork was not damaged beyond the scope of fair wear and tear. No award was made.

Key factors:

  • Set out your claim clearly. It is not for an adjudicator to construct your claim.  Use our Deposit Deduction Template, to do this.  It is available for use by our members.
  • Sufficiently detailed check-in and check-out reports are key. If the décor is freshly painted for the start of the tenancy, make sure you record this in the check-in report and/or provide an invoice to show the date on which redecoration took place. This may have an impact on the level of award.
  • While date and time stamped photographs are useful, they supplement the written word of the check-in and check-out reports. A photograph will not tell the adjudicator whether a wall was freshly painted or not.
  • Consider fair wear and tear and the principle of betterment when deciding whether a proposed claim is justified.
  • Check out our guide to Inventories, check-in and check-out reports for the level of detail required to be captured.
  • Book a place on our TDS Academy – Foundation Course and Adjudication Workshops. Limited places are still available in September.
  • We also run on-demand courses with our partner, Inventory Hive, so book now and view at your leisure.

If you are interested in further guidance relating to deposit disputes, visit the Information Lounge at TDS to browse further guides.

Sandy Bastin is head of dispute resolution at TDS.

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3 Comments

  1. Woodentop

    This is basic lettings. If landlords offer a poor condition property, don’t expect a new one back or then try and get it decorated when you should have done it in the first place.

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  2. jeremy1960

    Poor agency! How much time was wasted that could have been saved by “having a word” with an unrealistic landlord??

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  3. PossessionFriendUK39

    Often,  its about the presentation of evidence,  which usually lacks by Landlords as they re not normally familiar with that evidence-led approach.

    So in view of the above,  whilst the claim for a deduction has failed because it wasn’t sufficiently documented, –  lets not be in any hurry to suppose it wasn’t fully justified   !

    ( albeit let down by Inventory check-in and check-out  –  I wonder was the same inventory company used,  what documentary evidence the Landlord might have to challenge the Inventory company )

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