A recurring problem for many landlords is who settles a damp claim for mould and condensation left behind when a tenant moves out?
Most landlords would consider a damp claim against the tenant’s deposit – but even if they provided ventilation fan that was switched off by the tenants, making a claim is not always clear cut.
The key point is the deposit belongs to the tenant and any adjudicator deciding a damp claim is predisposed to come down on the side of the tenant for this reason.
To win, a landlord has to prove ‘on the balance of probabilities’ – a legal term that effectively means by more than a 50:50 verdict – any issue was the tenant’s fault.
Proving this is decided by the quality of any written evidence as the adjudicator will not speak to either party in a tenancy deposit protection dispute.
That means even if the landlord knows they are in the right, failing to prove their confident opinion in writing will still result in the tenant winning.
So, for this case, here are some tips about the evidence that should be submitted to the adjudicator:
- Show a fan was installed and working at the start of the tenancy and ask the tenant to confirm no damp or condensation was present when they moved in. This should be part of the check-in procedure.
- Show the fan was installed and working at the end of the tenancy
- Photograph and confirm the extent of any mould or damp when the tenant leaves – this should be part of the check-out procedure
- Lastly, an independent, professional opinion from a surveyor or suitably qualified professional explaining what sort of mould is present and how this is caused should confirm the lack of ventilation
Some landlords give tenants a guide to drying washing and ventilating properties on check-in as well.
Landlords should make sure their evidence is clear and unambiguous. Supporting evidence from an independent expert is generally that little extra that tilts the balance in favour of the landlord as the tenant is unlikely to have a similar expert when defending a damp claim.