Moving from property rights

When I moved into my rented property it was with the landlord present. We completed an inventory of the property that both of us were happy to sign. When we left the property the landlord appointed a 3rd party organisation to inventory the property. The original inventory was a bit heath robinson and only consisted of around 20 pages. The 3rd party inventory consisted of 130 pages (i have not seen) and this has prompted the landlord to charge me 350GBP for cleaning and nails in walls for picture hooks. All of the picture hooks were present when we moved in and the property was cleaner when we moved out. I am refusing to accept the second inventory as accurate and hence refusing to pay the 350GBP. The landlord has been in possession of my deposit for more than 6 weeks. Can anyone give me some advice as I have suggested that this issue is taken to arbitration

Hi Ian, I have just been through similar! Let me tell you my personal experience.

My decisionwas to trigger arbitrartion asap and let the landlord’s demands for deductions fail against the high burden of proof needed to deduct money from the deposit.

The deposit money remains legally yours througout the tenancy, even if it is resting in the landlord’s bank account. Deductions can only be made for damage to the property, not for wear and tear. Damage needs to be proved, and the cost for repairing it needs to be properly evidenced and the tenant charged proportionately.

You can log into the deposit protection scheme that your deposit was protected with and initiate a full repayment of your deposit. This will start a timer ticking down from 2 weeks. One the time is up, you will be able to make a single repayment claim which if done correctly will mean the scheme pays the whole deposit back to you.

It’s likely, however, that the landlord will respond to your repayment request before the two weeks is up. In this case, if you disagree over the amount to deduct, this will trigger arbitration, called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Once in ADR, the landlord has two weeks to submit evidence to the scheme to prove that you have damaged the property. The landlord has to make an itemised list of claims, and you can respond to them and submit your own counter evidence.

The landlord’s most powerful evidence for making deductions is a properly conducted inventory which clearly shows that damage occured during the course of the tenancy. If comparison of the two inventories does not clearly show that damage has occured, then the landlord will struggle to argue that you should be charged and it is likely that the adjudicator will not award the landlord the money they are claiming.

For example, if the original inventory has no mention of the condition of the walls, and the second inventory says “nails in walls” and you say that they the nails there at the beginning of the tenancy, then it is quite likely that the ADR adjudicator will find there is not evidence of damage, and therefore no money should be deducted.

Here’s a guide for tenants on inventories which I think will be very helpful for you.

Let me know if you have any more Qs and keep us up to date on how things progress.

130 pages !! sounds as if he wants you to pay the 3rd party cost of inventory. Is it a Mansion?

I thought I would chip in with my to be experienced issues: I am renting and my professional inventory comprises 41 pages of text, and 27 pages of photographs, with each page containing 24 photographs! No wonder yours was long, as mine could have been 689 pages if I had a photo per page. All my photos are such poor quality that only obvious items can be seen: wall and carpet blemishes are not visible, but closeups of picture hooks are.

Regarding your situation, the inventory check should have been signed by the tenant and if there is no confirmation of it’s issue to you within a reasonable period then the second inventory maybe invalid, assuming the following equally applies to the end of the tenancy, if one goes by this legal statement taken from somewhere, probably, otherwise my Deposit Holder: “Unless the Landlord receives written comments on or amendments to the inventory and/or report of condition within 14 days of the start of the Tenancy, the Tenant shall be taken as accepting the inventory and report of condition as a full and accurate record of the condition of the Property and its contents. The Landlord must ensure that any comments or amendments received from the Tenant are attached to the inventory and/ or report of condition annexed to the agreement.”
Also, “Deposits can only be used for repairs and replacements** if an agreed ‘Initial Inventory and Condition Check’ report has been issued
**The vacated property should be inspected within 24 hours of vacation, or on the next working day, to establish whether it has been returned to the landlord in the condition specified in the tenancy agreement. The tenant should be given a reasonable opportunity to attend the inventory checkout. … You should seek guidance from the relevant tenancy deposit scheme. … The tenancy deposit protection schemes give guidance on what may be considered ‘fair wear and tear’.”

Also, if regular inspections have not picked up anything like damage or mention of unauthorised picture hooks, then I think you are in the clear.

I Hope this helps, especially if you did not sign or challenge entries in that second inventory when they inspected the place.