Annual Report: Deposit dispute

Published on Friday, 09 June 2017. Posted in Case Studies

The devil is in the detail: A Landlord alleged their property had been damaged and claimed the agent had not submitted comprehensive documentation to the tenancy deposit scheme. Find out more about the missing documentation that helped the Ombudsman rule on this case.

The complainants explained that the agent had not submitted comprehensive documentation to the tenancy deposit scheme which led to the failure of their claim against the deposit.  The claim was for damage to the property; there were no rent arrears. They wanted the agent to pay them £900, as they believed they would have been awarded that amount, the full deposit, if their claim had been properly considered by the tenancy deposit scheme

It was explained to the complainants that it was not the Ombudsman’s role to determine whether the proposed claim from the deposit was fair or reasonable. The deposit scheme had made an adjudication on that claim and it was not for TPO to make a parallel judgment.

What the Ombudsman could consider was the service provided by the agent and in particular the documentation prepared by the agent, on behalf of the complainants, who had paid for a full management service.

The agent had submitted an inadequate one page check-in to the deposit scheme.  There was no evidence to suggest that the tenants had ever received a copy.

The check-out report was much more comprehensive, albeit there was no photographic evidence as the agent had stated they would provide.  However, when submitting the claim to the tenancy deposit scheme, the agent should have provided the deposit scheme with a copy of the check-out report.  The check-out report was absent from the list of evidence, which led the Ombudsman to conclude that the agent did not submit that document for consideration as they should have done.

The agent’s responsibility was to act in the complainant landlords’ best interests, ensuring that the tenants were notified of the landlords’ proposed deductions (they were) and, if these deductions were not agreed between the parties, to ensure all appropriate documentation was submitted to the tenancy deposit scheme to allow them to conduct an investigation.  The agent has failed to provide the necessary documentation, resulting in the claim being rejected in the first instance rather than properly considered.

The Ombudsman was persuaded that the complainants’ claim was significantly disadvantaged by the agent’s actions and made a compensatory award of £450.