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By Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes

Head of Adjudication, The DPS

OTHER FEATURES

DPS adjudication case study: water damage and a deluge of evidence

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, shares 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 what happens when landlords and tenants disagree on water damage and how adjudicators used evidence to come to a decision…

The situation

A landlord claimed £165 at the end of a seven-year tenancy to replace three water-damaged kitchen cupboard doors, saying that the tenant had not reported the damage ‘for months.’

The tenant disputed the claim saying they had not breached the tenancy’s terms.

They reported the water pipe leak soon after it occurred, over six years into the tenancy, and they told the landlord it was not fixed after the first attempt. They also agreed not to move a single mixer tap to prevent further leaking, said the tenant.

Towards the end of the tenancy, and five months after the tenant first reported the leak, the landlord inspected the property and told the tenant they would replace the damaged unit doors.

At no time did the landlord say that they would charge the tenant, the tenancy-holder argued.

The tenant produced emails that showed that they reported the leak quickly and had also updated the landlord on the situation.

The decision

The adjudicators found in favour of the tenant based on the email evidence.

This was despite the check-in and check-out inventories, including a check-out photograph showing deterioration of the cupboard doors.

The landlord’s receipt for the replacement doors did not persuade the adjudicators that the tenant was responsible for the damage.

The dispute highlights the value of email evidence, particularly emails written at the time of events, said adjudicators.

These ‘contemporaneous accounts’ are more accurate than later versions of discussions, interactions and agreements, they explained.

Both sides should send emails and submit them as evidence to adjudicators during a dispute, they add.

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

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