The Deposit Diaries: Thinking your claim through

Welcome to this month’s edition of The Deposit Diaries where the Director of Dispute Resolution at TDS, Michael Morgan, discusses a recent decision by a TDS adjudicator and sets out the reasoning behind the decision.

In this case, a landlord claimed £180 for the cost of repairing broken sash cords in a window.

The landlord explained that the sash window opened on to a roof terrace which the tenant was not permitted to use.

They had also noticed a sun lounger and disposable barbecue on the roof terrace and assumed that the tenant used it often.

The landlord produced an invoice for the cost of repairs to the window.

The evidence presented in this case included a check-in report which referred to the property being newly refurbished, but no specific reference was made to the condition of the windows.

The tenant argued that the sash cords failed altogether and produced an email where they advised the landlord of this.

The landlord responded simply to say that the issue would be addressed at the end of the tenancy.

The adjudicator was unable to determine whether or not the sash cords had been broken by the tenant.

There was no evidence to show that this was the inevitable result of the tenant using the windows during the course of the tenancy – be it to access a roof terrace or not.

Although the check in report referred to the property being refurbished, this does not necessarily mean that sash cords were replaced and in any event, the landlord had not provided any evidence to show that they were.

Conclusion

This case highlights the importance of considering the strength of a claim in the light of the evidence available to support it.

In this case the check-in report did not refer specifically to the condition of the sash window.

This would make a claim for its deterioration difficult had it not been for the tenant’s email advising of the problem.

That said, the reference to the refurbishment of the property was also not sufficient to confirm that this included the windows.

The adjudicator might have reached a different conclusion had the landlord produced evidence from their contractor (such as an invoice, or schedule of complete works) to show that the windows had been refurbished.

It would also have helped the landlord’s claim to have the same contractor inspect the windows and give an opinion as to the cause of the problem.

* The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is the only not-for-profit, Government approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; we offer both insured and custodial protection.

We also provide fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.

TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme. Other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps.

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3 Comments

  1. nosharkbait

    Is it really worth taking deposits? Court cost for eviction, inventories and checkout reports that gets challenged and limited time to deal with deposit returns, makes me wonder.

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  2. cybelex

    I didn’t think a restriction could be put on which parts of the property the tenant could use, it would be like a landlord locking one of the bedrooms and saying the tenant couldn’t use that one. Wouldn’t that cause all sorts of legal problems? Not an issue in terms of this I know, but just wondering …

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    1. CountryLass

      In this case it might have been that as it was a roof, maybe the supports were not designed to take the weight of a person? Like how if you tread in the wrong place on an un-boarded loft, you’ll land on someone’s head?

       

      But yes, you are right that it would cause legal issues and probably problems with the insurance as well.

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