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Case Study 1

Complaint brought by: Landlord

Amount of deposit: £875.00

Amount in dispute: £875.00

Amount awarded to landlord: £219.02

Amount awarded to agent: £N/A

Amount awarded to tenant: £655.98

The settlement of this dispute was problematic due to the absence of a Check-In inventory and a Check-Out report. The correspondence between the landlord and the tenant had become rather emotive, but through the intervention of The Dispute Service matters were handled in a fair and efficient manner, despite complications.

The issue of greatest concern was the removal of the hob and oven by the tenant from the property which were returned by the tenant at the end of the tenancy. However, the landlord considered them "unusable" as they had been left outside for a period of time. As a result, he was forced to pay for their replacement even though they were only 3 years old. The tenant responded that she had complained about the quality of the appliances to the landlord in the period at the beginning of her tenancy. However, there is no documentation of such a correspondence taking place and with the lack of a Check-In Inventory it was difficult to date or establish the quality of the kitchen appliances. The adjudicator considered it was reasonable that the tenant should pay half the total costs of replacement and electrical services.

The second issue was the spoiling of 6 lampshades, 4 curtains, a carpet and the removal of a light bulb. It was clearly stated within the tenancy agreement that any furniture and households implements that did not meet the tenants’ satisfaction should be brought to the attention of the landlord within 7 days. This was not done but the tenant denied accusations of damages made by the landlord. Again, in the absence of a signed Check-In Inventory it was not possible to confirm whose account was correct.

We also recommended to the Agency that they review their procedures, with explicit reference to Check-In and Check-Out Reports, to avoid future disputes of this nature.

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Case Study 2

Complaint brought by: Landlord

Amount of deposit: £1,500.00

Amount in dispute: £759.71

Amount awarded to landlord: £1,500.00

Amount awarded to agent: £N/A

Amount awarded to tenant: £0

This case shows how the extent of maintenance that ought or ought not to be carried out by current tenants can result in deposit disputes. In this particular case the neglectful behaviour of the tenant resulted in a complete deposit loss of £1,500.00. The Inventory and Check-Out report were both thoroughly conducted making our assessment much easier.

The Check-Out noted a "bad stain" left on the lounge carpet by the tenants, in contrast with its "excellent condition" before the tenants' arrival. The landlord was unable to remove the stain despite employing cleaning services. We considered that it was entirely reasonable to charge the replacement to the tenant.

The automatic lights situated in cupboards under the hall and in the kitchen were pointed out by the landlord as being broken. This detail was not mentioned in the Check-In Inventory and the tenants claimed that the lights had never worked. In our view the tenant was not responsible for the supposed damage due to the poor quality of the light switches.

The landlord described the tiles surrounding the fireplace as "coming loose" and demanded suitable compensation. However, the Inventory did not specify this damage no charge from the deposit was allowed.

The final issue was the condition of the fridge-freezer. Already in the Check-In Inventory, a shelf was described as cracked upon the commencement of the tenancy. Upon Check-Out, three of the runners were broken. Although plastic does tend to become brittle with age, the fridge-freezer unit was only three years old. Therefore, damage was regarded as excessive and 50% of the replacement costs were covered by the tenant.

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Case Study 3

Complaint brought by: Landlord

Amount of deposit: £500.00

Amount in dispute: £400.00

Amount awarded to landlord: £225.00

Amount awarded to agent: £N/A

Amount awarded to tenant: £175.00

The case was problematic due to the absence of an up to date Check-In Inventory. The standard of cleanliness was the first point highlighted by the landlord. Under the tenancy agreement the tenant was obliged to clean the premises to a good standard. He insists that this was done, albeit 1 month prior to the end of the tenancy when vacated the property early. Further cleaning was required to remove the limescale and grease in the kitchen. This cost was charged to the tenant.

The agent confirmed that the keys to the letterbox had been stolen during the tenancy. They commissioned the installation of a new lock and key. Considering that the letterbox was at least two years old, the tenant could not be held liable for the entire amount.

The Check-Out report detailed burn marks that had formed on the carpet. The absence of this detail from the Check-In Inventory confirmed that the tenant did the damage. Responsibility for which was taken by the tenant who in the end accepted the charge of £100.00. Also, during the tenancy, the tenant removed shelves in the bedroom due to their questionable safety and stability. This was not unreasonable; therefore it was not considered logical to charge the tenant the full amount for re-fixing the shelves to the wall.

A dent in the cloakroom door was noted by the Check–Out report and the tenant who finally agreed to pay the sum of £50.00 for repair accepted responsibility. There was also reference to water damage on the laminate flooring which could not be attributed to wear and tear in our opinion. Landlord demanded the amount of £100.00 to cover costs, however due to the lack of knowledge we had about the cause of the damage, the £50.00 offered by the tenant for damages seemed reasonable.

The Check-Out report made a reference to damage to walls, lampshades and rot to window frames in various locations in the house. However, in the absence of a reliable Check-In Report there was insufficient evidence as to how far this was damage caused by the tenant and how far this could be attributed to wear and tear. Therefore, it was concluded that the tenant did not have to contribute towards these costs.

A genuine misunderstanding occurred over the date of the termination of the tenancy. Subsequently, the tenant prematurely cancelled his standing order and one month's payment was not paid into the landlord’s account. However, through correspondence it was established that this was a case of poor communication rather than malicious behaviour. As a result, the tenant agreed to pay the sum of £410.00 to cover the rent.

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