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By Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes

head of adjudication, DPS

OTHER FEATURES

DPS adjudication case study: Do tenancy breaches lead to a full claim?

The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) keeps deposit money safe for letting agents, landlords and renters during the course a tenancy. Its free, government-accredited custodial tenancy deposit protection scheme has protected over five million deposits over the last decade. 

Its Dispute Resolution Service allows landlords, letting agents and tenants to resolve disputes without resorting to lengthy or expensive court procedures, and over the last decade has adjudicated over 73,000 disputes.

In our adjudication case study series, The DPS’ head of adjudication, Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes, is going to share examples of recent, real-life case studies with us. 

She talks us through the guidelines that affect the way her team reaches decisions to help agents and landlords understand the process.

Our latest case study looks at tenancy breaches and why they don’t always automatically lead to a full claim…

The claim

A landlord claimed £150 for post-tenancy cleaning, plus £75 to repair ‘preventable’ damage to an electric towel rail pinned in place using ‘unsafe’ DIY hooks. The landlord provided an invoice for both.

The tenant disputed the claim. They cleaned the property, which had a ‘very old and stinky carpet’ and damaged walls, before moving in. Furthermore, the tenancy contract did not mention cleaning, they said.

The evidence

The tenant signed the tenancy agreement and the check-in report, which included photographs. The check-in report stated that the property was clean throughout, subject to a few nominal cleaning omissions. The report noted the towel rail with one top end missing. 

The check-out report detailed personal belongings left behind, rubbish and cleaning omissions, but it also showed that the tenant carried out some cleaning before departure.

The tenant did not sign the check-out report, nor did an independent third party oversee the inspection.

The landlord provided a post tenancy date-stamped video, which included footage of the towel rail covered by a towel, meaning adjudicators could not see any damage.

The decision

Adjudicators awarded 50% of the cleaning costs to the landlord, which they said was fair, reasonable and proportionate.

They balanced the reliable check-in evidence against the unreliable check-out report, factoring in in the video, which enabled them to compare the property’s condition at both ends of the tenancy.

Adjudicators did not award to the landlord for the damaged towel rail. Despite recorded damage to it at the start of the tenancy, the evidence did not show damage at the end, nor was there other evidence to support this claim.

Tenancy breaches do not automatically lead to the full claim award because adjudicators will also consider the property’s condition at the start of the contract.

*Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes is head of adjudication at the DPS

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