#ExpertView: The importance of checking your tenancy agreement

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This week on #ExpertView our Director of Dispute Resolution, Michael Morgan, looks at the importance of checking your tenancy agreement.

  • Regularly check tenancy agreements to ensure consistency
  • Ambiguous evidence could affect the outcome of the claim

Expert View

Our Director of Dispute Resolution, Michael Morgan, discusses a recent decision by a TDS adjudicator and sets out the reasoning behind the decision. In this case, the agent proposed a deduction from the deposit to cover the payment of the check out fee, referencing a clause in the tenancy agreement which outlined the tenant’s responsibility for this payment.

The tenant disputed the deduction because an alternative clause in their tenancy agreement required the check out fee to be paid by the landlord. They also argued that the clause did not specify an amount and they could not be required to pay a charge for an undisclosed amount.

The agent countered this argument by stating that the two clauses taken together meant that the landlord and tenant should pay half each. The evidence provided by the agent included an invoice from the inventory clerk which matched the sum that was being claimed from the deposit.

As the tenancy agreement required both parties to pay, it was deemed to be ambiguous and the adjudicator could not conclude with any certainty that the obligation to pay the check out fee in full was the tenant’s. As a result no award was made to the agent.

This case highlights the importance of all parties checking the tenancy agreement to ensure consistency and clarity. The natural path of a tenancy deposit is to be returned to the tenant, the responsibility is therefore on the landlord or agent to provide sufficient evidence to prove that a loss has been suffered and any relevant deductions should be awarded. If the tenancy agreement is ambiguous, this may well stop a landlord or agent from successfully claiming from a deposit.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; we offer both insured and custodial protection. We also provide fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.

TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps.

Posted by Michael Morgan on 14 November 2017

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