Property Management

Call of the Week: Deposits and pine needles

Call of the week
Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

With Christmas just around the corner, many of your tenants could have opted for a real Christmas tree.

This week’s Call of the Week features a case involving a landlord who contacted RLA partners, TDS, about a fiddly deposit issue around pine needles.

Michael Morgan, the Director of Dispute Resolution at TDS, talks us through a recent case involving pine needles that were left over from a tenant’s Christmas tree, and how a decision was reached by the adjudicator.

A landlord contacted TDS after they had taken possession of a property shortly before the Christmas break. All seemed well, until the landlord entered the property one day. He walked across the lounge carpet in his socks, and felt pine needles that were stuck in the carpet’s pile. When he looked closely, the landlord noticed that there were some marks on the carpet in the area where the base of the tree had stood.

The landlord claimed the cost of cleaning the carpet – normally £35.00 and an additional £35.00 for the cleaner to remove the remaining pine needles by hand. The tenant argued that they had been given permission to put up a real Christmas tree by the landlord and they had themselves paid for a carpet cleaner before they left. They argued that any remaining problems were ‘wear and tear’ that was to be expected from a real, rather than artificial, tree.

The adjudicator worked from the starting point that the carpet needed to returned in the same condition and cleanliness as at the start of the tenancy, allowing for ordinary wear and tear. The adjudicator did not consider that the issues identified were wear and tear. Marks on the carpet were not an inevitable consequence of having a real Christmas tree and pine needles should be removed – fiddly as this might be!

The adjudicator did not consider it was unreasonable for the landlord to claim the cost of cleaning the carpet again, because it was not clear what cleaning had been done by the tenant and at what cost. The landlord needed to be certain whether marks could be removed, as this would determine whether their claim was for cleaning only, or possibly a contribution to replacing the carpet if it was damaged beyond repair. Fortunately the cleaner was able to remove the marks, although the carpet cleaning did not remove all pine needles from the carpet’s pile. The adjudicator felt that a further deduction was reasonable as an additional cost was incurred by the landlord for the extra time the contractor needed at the property for manually removing the pine needles stuck in the carpet.

So what are the key points here?

Wear and tear is of course relevant to damage, but not to cleaning. Wear and tear means those things that are bound to happen in normal day to day use. Pine needles will drop, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be cleaned away properly!

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; we offer both insured and custodial protection. We also provide fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.

*This post was written by TDS.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

1 Comment

  • In this case the departing tenant presumably took the Christmas tree (and still-attached pine needles) with them.

    Last year I had a case where, after Christmas, the tenant put his 7-foot tall, real, Christmas tree out by the dust-bins and the council workers refused to take it.

    It then had to be cut up into 12″ pieces and these placed in the very small ‘green’ recycling bin, which is collected every two weeks in summer. Needless to say, it was a long process.

    This year I have banned real Christmas trees unless the tenant agrees to remove it from the property when celebrations are over. Unfortunately I dd not specify pine-needles as well, but maybe this can be assumed.

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