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Can my landlord charge me for damage done by neighbours

gardenHere is a question to the blog clinic from Janis (not her real name) who is a tenant

I moved out of a property a month ago and I have been in discussion with my former agent about some damage in the back garden which was caused by my neighbours (there is communal access).

I heard today that my landlord is attempting to charge me for this damage through the deposit – is that allowable?

I have verbal confirmations from both neighbours as to what they did and could ask for written statements. The damage is evident from the inventory and he now wants to charge me £350 more than the deposit I paid.

The agent is being as helpful as possible and it is likely it will go through the Deposit Protection Dispute Service but I am at a loss to know what else to do and whether it is even possible that he can do this.

First, you need to make sure that you comply with all the requirements of your scheme regarding the adjudication process.

I doubt however whether your landlord will succeed with this.  As the money is yours, your landlord will need to prove to the adjudicator that, on the balance of probability, it was you who did the damage.  If there is communal access to the area where the damage occurred and you say that it was not you, he will have an uphill task.

If you can get a statement or letter from the neighbour saying it was them, that will be really helpful.  However they may be unwilling to do this as then the landlord could sue THEM about it!

You should be able to throw sufficient doubt on the landlord’s claim just through your own evidence though, particularly if you explain the circumstances fully.  But it is important that you do this.

Note by the way that the landlord cannot claim more than the deposit amount via the adjudication process.  The Adjudicators do not have the power to award anything else.

If your landlord wants to claim a larger sum he will have to bring a county court claim.  However if he does this, he will have the same problems of proving that it was you who did the damage.

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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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