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By Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes

Head of Adjudication, The DPS

OTHER FEATURES

DPS adjudication case study: Claim and counter-claim over arrears

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 60,000 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 charges levelled at what happens when a disagreement over rent arrears and property condition collide...

The situation

A letting agent claimed the full deposit of £1,600 towards rent arrears of over £6,000. The tenant said they paid the entire outstanding balance in cash when they returned the keys.

The tenant argued further that the agent promised to email a receipt, but this never took place.

The letting agent responded that the tenant was in arrears and that they never received any arrears in cash.

Furthermore, the agent claimed that they had served section 8 and 21 notices to the tenant. They also described how, during a visit to the property, the tenant’s partner handed back the keys and informed them they had left without giving prior notice.

The letting agent provided documents, including a rent statement, emails/letters to the tenant, as well as the notices.

Decision

The adjudicator found in favour of the letting agent.

Key legal considerations

The adjudication decision reflects the legal idea of ‘balance of probability’. This does not need absolute proof, but enough to satisfy the adjudicator of the most likely outcome.

The agents supplied a full history of payments, which showed that the tenant had underpaid rent for a significant length of time.

The letting agents also supplied the email sent to the tenant after the check-out appointment. This, they argued, would have made reference to a large cash repayment if one had taken place.

The letting agents also provided evidence of frequent correspondence with the tenant in which the agents notified them of the rent arrears and asked them to make contact to discuss how to bring payments back into line.

The tenant provided no evidence that they handed over the £6,000 in cash, along with the keys. It is reasonable to conclude that, on a balance of probabilities, no cash payment occurred. 

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

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