#ExpertView: Claiming for antique items

#ExpertView: Claiming for antique items

| 29 January 2019

In this week’s #ExpertView, TDSNI’s Operations Manager, Eamonn Hunt, discusses best practice when antique or sentimentally valuable items are damaged.

A landlord submitted a claim against his tenants’ deposit for £345 for damage to an antique Edwardian mahogany corner chair.

The tenant argued that the chair wasn’t in pristine condition when they moved in and while the chair had been damaged during their tenancy, it had occurred through normal wear and tear and not through malice. They also argued that the landlords’ claim figure was based on sentiment and the valuation of the chair on the internet provided by the landlord varied from replacement estimates they had obtained from art dealers.

As the flat was let fully-furnished, the tenants also questioned the wisdom of the landlord keeping an antique piece of furniture there while tenanted.

When the claim was submitted to TDS, the check-in report was also provided which noted that the chair was not damaged at the outset of the tenancy. The claim also included an example of a replacement cost from an antiques’ website which was said to have been based on a similar type of chair.

No evidence was submitted to demonstrate that the tenants had complained about the chair’s condition during check-in. There was no dispute that the chair was damaged during the tenancy and no evidence that the tenants reported the damage to the chair during the tenancy.

When faced with the evidence, TDS’ adjudicators decided to award the tenant £195 and the landlord £150 of the disputed amount.

This took into account that due to the chair’s reported age, it would have had some natural wear and tear, and deterioration in condition. The landlord seemed to base the claim on a webpage depicting a chair that was different, and research undertaken by the adjudicator showed other, similar chairs with lower replacement costs than that claimed.

This case has lessons for both landlords/agents and tenants.

For landlords and agents: 
think carefully about whether antique items that are either irreplaceable, costly to repair or hold sentimental value should be left in the rented property.

  • support any claim with a specialist person’s opinion/report
  • ensure such items are recorded in detail at check-in, preferably with supplementary photographs
  • notify tenants of any antique items present in the property at check-in.

For tenants: 

  • it is important to report any discrepancies found at check-in
  • report any damage caused during the tenancy
  • consider asking for antique items of furniture being removed from the property.

About the Author:

Eamonn has over 13 years in estate agency experience dealing with residential lettings, sales, and management. He joined TDS Northern Ireland in April 2013 with the scope to promote and provide a leading tenancy deposit protection scheme. 

Based in the Belfast office, Eamonn provides a direct contact point for customers.

About TDSNI: 

Tenancy Deposit Scheme Northern Ireland (TDSNI) is a government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDSNI offers both Insured and Custodial protection and also provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.

TDSNI Insured Scheme: where a TDSNI member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.

TDSNI Custodial Scheme: where TDSNI hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.

TDSNI Academy: TDSNI provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.

TDSNI can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.

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