- The adjudication digest takes a recent decision by a SafeDeposits adjudicator and sets out the reasons behind it. We hope that you will find these digests informative in understanding how we reach our adjudication decisions.
- This blog post is for guidance only – it is not intended to guarantee when an award will be made.
- Each dispute is different and the actual award made will be based on our interpretation of the specific evidence presented to us.
On the twelfth day of Christmas
This month's case looks at a dispute over items being left outside the property at the end of the tenancy.
Amount of deposit in dispute: £45.00
Award to tenant: £00.00
Award to agent (on behalf of landlord): £45.00
As we approach the festive season, this month's digest looks back to the circumstances of a case last January and explores responsibility for the cost of removing items at the end of a tenancy.
The landlord and tenant reached agreement for the tenancy to terminate early, with the tenant leaving the property on 3 January 2014 and the last day of the tenancy being 5 January 2014.
When the agent conducted the check-out, they noticed that the tenant had left their Christmas tree outside the front door. The landlord's claim was for the cost of removing the large tree before the new tenants accessed the property two days later. In support of the claim, the agent produced an invoice for the removal and disposal of the tree at a local recycling centre.
The tenant argued that they had assumed that the tree would be removed as part of the usual ‘green’ refuge collection, and that this was delayed at this time of year because of additional festive holidays. The tenant also stated that it had not been possible to arrange a separate private collection and they did not have a suitable vehicle to dispose of the item themselves.
The adjudicator agreed that the tenant was responsible for meeting the costs of disposing of the tree. They were bound to ensure that any additional items, particularly those of an unusual size, were removed from the property by the agreed end date of the tenancy. As the amount claimed was reasonable, the adjudicator awarded the sum claimed to the landlord.
So what are the key points here?
The fact that a tenancy ends early does not alter the tenant's usual responsibility for ensuring that the property is free of their belongings. Placing them outside the property is not sufficient.
The adjudicator will take the pragmatic view that rubbish placed in a normal rubbish bin for the regular collection has been satisfactorily removed. However, the tenant would be responsible for ensuring that the bin was not overflowing or that any items of an unusual size were disposed of separately.
Tenants sometimes make arrangements for items to be collected, but their contractor lets them down. Their argument is that they have already incurred the cost and do not wish to have to pay twice. Although it is unfortunate that the tenant has been placed in this position, they are nevertheless responsible for meeting the landlord's loss in having the item removed through an additional payment if necessary.
The landlord or agent is not obliged to allow the tenant back to the property to remove items or undertake additional work after the end of the tenancy.
For further guidance on disputes, including previous adjudication digests, please see our guidance documents page.
This post was written by admin