Inventories make the difference in damage disputesMake Text Bigger
Landlords and tenants often argue over who is entitled to keep a deposit when disputing who is responsible for damage to property at the end of a tenancy agreement.
Some helpful light is thrown on how to negotiate a settlement for both sides in case studies published by The Disputes Service, a non-profit organisation that also manages the tenancy deposit scheme and arbitrates complaints for the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).
The case studies have a common theme running through – landlords and tenants must conduct thorough inventories of a property together at the start and finish of a tenancy.
Landlords and letting agents should also make sure regular property inspections are carried out during the tenancy as well.
Landlords were awarded costs from the deposit when producing an effective inventory signed and agreed by the tenant as evidence – especially if they involved photographic or video evidence.
The cases also show how the adjudicators consider responsibility for damage to property.
One particular case cited by the tenancy dispute service illustrates several of the points:
“The Check-Out noted a “bad stain” left on the lounge carpet by the tenants, in contrast with its “excellent condition” before the tenants’ arrival. The landlord was unable to remove the stain despite employing cleaning services. We considered that it was entirely reasonable to charge the replacement to the tenant,” said the case study.
“Automatic lights situated in cupboards under the hall and in the kitchen were pointed out by the landlord as being broken. This detail was not mentioned in the Check-In Inventory and the tenants claimed that the lights had never worked. In our view the tenant was not responsible for the supposed damage due to the poor quality of the light switches.
“The landlord described the tiles surrounding the fireplace as “coming loose” and demanded suitable compensation. However, the Inventory did not specify this damage no charge from the deposit was allowed.
“The final issue was the condition of the fridge-freezer. Already in the Check-In Inventory, a shelf was described as cracked upon the commencement of the tenancy. Upon Check-Out, three of the runners were broken. Although plastic does tend to become brittle with age, the fridge-freezer unit was only three years old. Therefore, damage was regarded as excessive and the tenant covered 50% of the replacement cost.”
Full details of all the case studies can be seen at www.thedisputeservice.co.uk
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