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Landlords will be well aware of the pitfalls of claiming more than the value of their security deposit from tenants: faced with the prospect of legal proceedings, and the uncertainty of whether a former tenant will pay in any event, landlords will often write off the balance of the claim that exceeds the deposit amount.
If a landlord uses the deposit scheme first, they are left having to take legal proceedings for the balance of their claim. Alternatively, they might choose to not use the deposit protection scheme to resolve the dispute and take the whole claim to court. Either way, a landlord is left facing the time, cost and inconvenience of court proceedings – and the uncertainty of whether their former tenant will still pay in any event.
Or are they? Speaking to someone independent and impartial can avoid this and help come to a reasonable solution that is acceptable to all.
In this case study, we explain how Brendan used mediation when his deposit claim was for more than the deposit.
Brendan had used a deposit protection scheme to make his claim for rent arrears, which used up the value of the tenancy deposit. However, he still had expensive repairs that he needed the tenants to pay for. His tenants, helpfully, did not disagree that the damage needed to be made good – but less helpfully argued that the damage was down to Brendan.
Brendan asked PRS Mediation to get involved and see if it was possible to reach an agreement with his tenants.
After Brendan’s tenants agreed to use mediation, we were able to speak with them to understand what the issues were. The damage related to a leak at the property that had caused damage to the kitchen floor. The tenants argued that the leak was not their responsibility, and that Brendan should be paying for it. Brendan agreed that the leak itself was due to a faulty joint in his plumbing (which was not the tenants’ fault). However, the leak was obvious and the tenants had failed to report it, meaning that it was only discovered at the end of the tenancy when the leaking water had done its damage.
We were able to explain to the tenants that the leak itself was something that Brendan would have to pay to fix, but the damage it caused was down to them. We also explained to them that they should have reported the leak so something could be done about it – it was plain to see, and part of their obligations as tenants. If Brendan could have fixed it sooner this would have avoided the other damage. The tenants accepted that they had let Brendan down, but were unhappy about the amount of the bill.
Brendan was claiming for the cost of replacement laminate flooring as well as repairs to the underlying floorboards and joists. The laminate flooring was of some age, and we were able to explain to Brendan that he would probably be faced with the cost of replacing this in any event. We explained to the tenants that they didn’t need to pay for the laminate flooring but did need to pay for the rest. A payment plan was agreed giving the tenants the ability to pay in instalments. We reminded the tenants that it wasn’t just about the money - they’d be looking to Brendan for a reference, and a poor reference and County Court judgment would do them no favours for the future.
Evicting tenants and chasing debts through the court takes time and money. What’s more, the courts will expect you to try and resolve matters before resorting to using the courts. The Property Redress Scheme tenancy mediation service can resolve the situation amicably:
Call 0203 907 1857 to find out more or start your mediation.
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Property Redress Scheme is approved by Government under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015