Tenant damage, depreciation allowances and Arbitration?

by Readers Question

10:02 AM, 8th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Tenant damage, depreciation allowances and Arbitration?

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Tenant damage, depreciation allowances and Arbitration?

I apologise now for the length of this article but its a bit complex:Arbitration

I have a dispute with a tenant who has just left my property after 3.5 years. There are two bright pink tennis ball sized stains in the centre of the living room carpet (quality wool mix 6 years old). Professional cleaning hasn’t removed the stains (child’s paint I believe). The cushion flooring in the kitchen (3.5 years old) was torn (16″ tear) when he removed the washing machine and they left a 6″ permanent indentation in the flooring when entering the kitchen.

I used arla.co.uk calculator to assess depreciation and what he should fairly pay towards replacement, he refuses to accept it needs replacing and says ARLA only counts if the damage is so severe it affects the rentability of the property. He only offers to pay for repair on kitchen flooring (sticking tear £54), but the indentation cannot be erased and the washing machine tear is so significant it will tear further when the next tenant installs an appliance.

Two years ago the garden wooden retaining wall collapsed and the wooden steps rotted out (substandard Wainholmes materials), he didn’t claim a rent reduction when the garden was out of action during replacement. Was winter and he said he wasn’t using it and was ok with it. We had new flight of garden steps built and a new block retaining wall built to replace the wooden one costing almost £1k.

He is now saying he can claim loss of use of garden against the deductions I wish to make and so he wants his full deposit back.

In 3.5 years his rent was raised by £30 only and we were always personally on hand to address any issues in this 9 year old house.

On check out he left black mould on ceilings around perimeters of the bedrooms/bathrooms unaddressed (lack of ventilation and not reported to us) he said he didn’t have time to clean/paint them but would pay for the paint. He gave notice when moved out and so had a whole month when the house was empty at end of his tenancy to correct this issue. We have had to spend many evenings after work cleaning and painting to eradicate this.

Anyone have ideas as to how to otherwise calculate depreciation on carpets, am I within my rights to ask him to pay a proportion to replace flooring due to their damage and can they claim rent reduction for lack of garden use after two years have passed?

Should/how can/to claim man hours for time spent eradicating the mould he caused and also 5 hours cleaning chrome/glass light fittings throughout the house which were covered in 3.5 years of dust.

The deposit is held with DPS and he wishes to go through Arbitration as I won’t return his whole deposit.
Look forward to anyone’s feedback.

Janet



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:07 AM, 8th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Hi Janet,

You have very reasonably laid out your case for Arbitration with the DPS.

However, the lack of rental increases is a red hearing and will be irrelevant unfortunately.

Mould is very tricky to prove fault as we have may article on the subject if you wish to do an article search and I am not sure how much you would get covered for part of a 6 year old carpet so I am thinking it is a bit 50/50, but worse case scenario you will have to give back all the deposit or keep a little.

Interesting to see what others say.

Mike W

11:41 AM, 8th February 2017
About 2 years ago

I have attended a few courses on deposit claims and the basic rule is that it is the tenants money and you have to conclusively prove your claim. So can you prove the cost/quality of carpet? In terms of carpet lifetime you may be horrified by what adjudicators think in terms of how long a carpet should last. They will assume that the carpet is of poor quality and will need to be replaced (for example) every 3 years unless you can prove otherwise. What does the manufacturer say about the carpet lifetime? Do you have photos (good quality) of before and after?
On mould redecoration the same issues apply. How often would you expect to redecorate?I had a rental agreement with a major PLC where they required the property to be redecorated every 3 years!
Being denied use of part of the property is not really an issue. I was quite surprised to have a discussion with an insurance company on whether a property was liveable in after a burst pipe. You are expected to put up with a lot!
Like me you may well have good quality carpets in your own home which have lasted over 10 years and are still good. Similarly with wall painting or wallpaper but I'm afraid the adjudicator won't have your viewpoint.
With this sort of knowledge I have never gone to dispute resolution in over 15 years of dealing with student & PLC rentals. But I have made agreed claims against the deposit because I had a very good case.

Charles Orlebar

12:55 PM, 8th February 2017
About 2 years ago

All parties replied so far are promoting the facts as correct. Sadly many landlords fall down on successful claims given either poor evidence (in the same vain as you would in court), poor management throughout the tenancy and ultimately a lack of understanding the now basic principle of the status of a deposit.

Consider that the arbitrator does not attend the property, has to review many cases a day. Their view is therefore based on what they read and see from the evidence presented which will include the tenancy agreement etc.. If you are claiming the tenant has not undertaken their obligations under the terms of tenancy - be sure to clearly make reference to the relevant clauses and provide evidence to that effect - ie repeated inspection reports and letters instructing tenant to address the shortcoming etc. If you don't have this then don't expect much. In simple terms, your presentation should lead the arbiter in a straightforward way to allow to make an informed award. So often it is this process that is overlooked undermining a reasonable claim.

You should approach every tenancy from day one constantly collating your evidence of every element of the tenancy/maintenance process based on the fact that you will be in arbration. Approached this way the work involved when it comes to submitting a dispute is minimal assuming the tenant cannot be brought to agreement.

Gunga Din

12:59 PM, 8th February 2017
About 2 years ago

I've gone the arbitration route with DPS thrice to retain all the deposit, two cases being rent arrears, one being that plus damages. It takes a while, but its reasonably straightforward. As NP says, you would seem to have a good argument. In my cases there was no objection from the tenants of course...

I'd stick to your guns.

Rod

16:10 PM, 8th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Youve got off lightly, as some places are completely trashed! Cut your losses and move on as you're not lightly to get anything anyway! Re' mold on ceilings, throw a bit of bleach into the paint, works a treat!

Simon M

19:26 PM, 8th February 2017
About 2 years ago

I recently went through the DPS arbitration scheme from the tenant's side - on behalf of my son whose landlord/agent made an excessive claim against his deposit. I found the arbitration worked as described here, particularly by Charles. The DPS arbitration was straightforward and seemed fair, if slow. If the tenancy has been managed (e.g. inventory at start, periodic inspections, current photos etc) you have the evidence to demonstrate the tenant has not complied with the relevant clauses in their tenancy agreement. On my experience I'd be happy to use it again.

As the landlord you make your case first, if you keep the argument simple, stick to the relevant points and be reasonable. The tenant might reply or they might not bother.

Rod

20:50 PM, 8th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Re mould on ceiling. Forgot to mention. A couple of years ago I painted the ceiling in the shower room where mould had built up over time using white paint with some bleach added, result, no mould since!

J lied03

0:15 AM, 9th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Thanks Jack A the tip with the bleach is good as long as it doesn't smell?

Rod

8:44 AM, 9th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "J lied03" at "09/02/2017 - 00:15":

Only a minuscule amount of bleach used, the smell's gone in around 24 hrs. Good for bleaching wood too!

Gunga Din

11:17 AM, 9th February 2017
About 2 years ago

Sorry to press, but would that be a teaspoonful in a half litre pot? A tablespoon?

Thanks! - Gunga Din

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