The Adjudication Digest takes a recent decision by a TDS Adjudicator and sets out the reasoning behind the decision.
The aim of these Digest reports is to help tenants, landlords and agents better understand how we make our adjudication decisions. The names of the landlords and tenants involved have been removed and this is only a brief summary of the dispute. This dispute was initiated by the Landlord.
Amount of deposit in dispute: £60.00
The landlord wished to claim £60.00 from the tenant’s deposit for the cost of emptying of the wheelie bins at the end of the tenancy. The landlord also claimed that the tenants left the wrong rubbish in the incorrect bins.
The agent, on behalf of the landlord referred to the tenancy agreement’s clause concerning rubbish at the end of the tenancy which stated, ‘to remove all rubbish from the premises and to place the same within the dustbins or receptacles provided and where any dustbins have been provided to ensure that all rubbish is placed and kept inside a plastic bin liner before placing the rubbish in the dustbin.’
The check-out report identified that the wheelie bins had not been emptied at the end of the tenancy and the tenants advised that they did leave rubbish in the bins for local authority collection.
The check-in report and the report’s photograph of the front of the property appeared to show that a wheelie bin had not been emptied for the start of the tenancy.
So what are the key points here?
The Adjudicator found in this case, that the clause relied upon by the agent, appeared to have obliged the tenants to have placed rubbish in the dustbins or receptacles provided, and that the tenants complied with this obligation.
The Adjudicator found based on the evidence, that (i) it could not be found that there was a clear breach of the tenancy agreement obligations placed on the tenants and (ii) a tenant can only reasonably be expected to return a property to its pre-tenancy state and condition – the tenants should not be liable for emptying rubbish at the end of the tenancy when there appeared to have been a full bin noted by the check in report.
A landlord cannot rely upon a statement of claim alone. The landlord must support their claim with objective evidence. No evidence was provided to show that it was a requirement for rubbish to be separated or indeed that the tenants left the wrong rubbish in the incorrect bins or that they were ‘overflowing’ and the landlord had to dispose of any excess.