The landlord has claimed for damage – Deposit Diaries

Sandy Bastin
Sandy Bastin

The landlords claimed for damage, a replacement blind, missing keys and replacement light bulbs.

Looking at the damage claim first, the landlord claimed a contribution towards a replacement click-clack waste in the basin, providing an invoice in support, which included other works and a photograph of the damaged dismantled item.

The tenants disputed the claim saying that the issue was raised six weeks after moving out and after new tenants had moved in. They felt they should not be held responsible as the check-out report recorded no damage to the basin.

The check-in report contained a disclaimer that in the absence of comments in the condition column, items were visibly free of defects, soiling, damage or missing parts. The chrome waste in the basin in the bathroom was accepted, therefore to be in good condition, save that it was slightly tarnished.  At check-out, the report stated the basin was ‘as per check-in’, with a light wipe required.

The check-out report, on which both parties were entitled to rely did not support the claim, and the claim was not justified. No award was made. The additional photograph provided was unreliable as evidence as it was dated six weeks after the end of the tenancy and could not therefore be considered an accurate record of the condition of the click-clack at the end of the tenancy. The adjudicator couldn’t preclude either that the deterioration to the click-clack waste occurred in the period between the tenants vacating and the date on which the landlord identified the issue or in any event, the possibility that the damage occurred through regular everyday use.

Turning now to the replacement blind, light bulbs and window keys; although the blind in the bedroom was noted to be missing at the end of the tenancy; no award was made. At the start of the four-year tenancy, it was noted to be in fair condition only, grubby and with a missing pelmet and a bent slat.  The tenant reported issues with the window early in the tenancy and that the blind had now deteriorated further. No award was made as the adjudicator felt that the blind was at the end of its lifespan. It was not possible to consider an award for either replacement light bulbs or missing window keys, as the check-in report noted three bulbs were out for the start of the tenancy and the outside garden lights were noted to have not been tested, at move in, and there was no record of any window keys being present in the property or evidence of window keys being made available to the tenants.

Key factors:

  • Claims should only be made against the deposit for matters substantiated with evidence. Both parties are entitled to rely on the findings of the check-out report.
  • Had the outside lights been tested and the number of keys been recorded at the start of the tenancy, these claims may have been successful. Check out our guide to Inventories, check-in and check-out reports for the level of detail required to be captured.
  • When making many deductions across various heads of claim, use our Deposit Deduction Template, to do this. It is available for use by our members.
  • Consider fair wear and tear and the principle of betterment when deciding whether a proposed claim is justified. The full cost of a replacement blind claim did not factor in these principles.
  • Seek the most appropriate remedy; for example a deposit should not be used to replace items on a new for old basis.
  • Book a place on our TDS Academy – Foundation Course and Adjudication Workshops. Limited spots are still available in January.
  • We also run on-demand courses with our Partner Inventory Hive, so book now and view at your leisure.

Sandy Bastin is head of dispute resolution at TDS.

 

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5 Comments

  1. AcornsRNuts

    I sometimes wonder if these alleged claims are made up. Any professional landlord would not have been stupid enough to make a claim that anyone with half an ounce of common sense could see would not be successful.

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    1. A W

      Nobody said that they were a professional landlord. But you’d be surprised as to what some landlords decide to proceed to propose (even against the advice of their property manager/agent).

      The best that we can do is advise landlords, they can however choose to ignore professional advice and propose something daft.

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      1. AcornsRNuts

        “Nobody said that they were a professional landlord”, nor did I. That said I do not believe a professional landlord would make a claim like this, nor would a professional landlord ignore the advise of their property manager/agent without consequence. I have, on a previous occasion, advised a landlord that he could proceed with a claim, but without my support.

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  2. HelMB

    I can easily believe it, my landlord has just stated that we should pay £300 for a new radiator because there are some chips in the paint at the end of a 9-year tenancy.

    Report
    1. AcornsRNuts

      Then dispute it with whichever deposit scheme is is protected by. That is known as betterment and you will win.

      Report
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