In this case, the landlord claimed £300 for various items of damage, specifically £50 to replace a toilet seat, £100 to repair a split bedroom doorframe, £100 to replace two missing fire extinguishers, £30 to replace a smoke detector and £20 to replace two damaged occasional tables.
The landlord produced an invoice which covered the cost of some of these items. The landlord also produced both an inventory and check-out report as well as photographs of the damaged areas.
The landlord explained that a copy of the inventory was given to the tenants by hand, and they were told to raise any discrepancies within the next seven days.
The tenants denied ever seeing the inventory or check-out report, neither of which were signed by them.
They produced copies of correspondence confirming that they had agreed to pay the landlord £150 towards the damage. It was not clear which items this payment related to. The landlord argued that the tenants had admitted they were responsible and owed the balance too.
The adjudicator was unable to conclude that the landlord had provided the inventory report to the tenants at the start of the tenancy.
There was no evidence to confirm that the tenants had received it or been asked to verify it. Without further evidence of the condition of the property and its contents from the start of the tenancy, the adjudicator was unable to establish that the tenants could be held responsible for any of the damages identified by the check-out report.
The tenants had agreed to a deduction of £150 from their deposit, and their correspondence made it very clear that “We are only paying £150.00 as that is all we think we are responsible for”.
Faced with this evidence, the adjudicator could make no further award to the landlord.
This was an unfortunate case, with the landlord having sought to do all the right things – agree the condition of the property and its contents at the start of the tenancy and negotiate deposit deductions at its end.
Although the landlord was clear in their own mind as to what had been said and discussed, the written evidence did not reflect this. The adjudicator does not have the benefit of being involved in the dispute previously and can’t ask for further evidence.
It is important, therefore, to document matters carefully in writing, even if it feels like you are telling somebody something they already know.
* The Tenancy Deposit Scheme offers both insured and custodial protection. Michael Morgan is its director of dispute resolution