This was dispute between a lease holder and a property company called Rentaprop. Rentaprop were refusing to return Mr Maxwell's deposit after he left the premises, claiming that the state of the vacated property did not match the original condition when he first moved in two years earlier.

Rentaprop maintain that they have photographs showing the difference that justify their withholding of the deposit. Mr Maxwell, however claims that the end of his lease was supervised by the Estate Agent and matched the original inventory, also signed off by the Estate Agent.

With regards to the photographic evidence of the condition of the property, these pictures were not made available to eCourt, so it is very difficult to pass comment on them. We have no idea whether they bear any resemblance to the state of the house when Mr Maxwell moved out or not, and even if we did, we could not know whether they were any worse or better than before he moved in.

We would suggest that unless Rentaprop can produce photographs of the house before the term of lease and another set of photographs depicting the house after the term of lease then it would not be possible to judge them as reasonable evidence. What is more, unless these photographs can be proved to have been taken on those exact dates, and have been signed off by Mr Maxwell, or another unbiased third party, then again, they would not prove to be of any worth.

As far as eCourt can make out, when reviewing the inventory, which was done on the day Mr Maxwell moved into the property, the condition of the property on vacating the premises was more or less as was described in the inventory carried out by the Estate Agents.

The inventory described in detail makes mention only of the garden, the wallpaper, the carpet and the general condition of the property prior to Mr Maxwell's moving in. When Mr Maxwell requested a final inventory to take place, the owner herself made it quite clear that she was quite happy with the state of the property returned to the Estate Agents, so much so that she felt that there was no need for her to inspect the property further. She further assured Mr Maxwell that his deposit would be forwarded to him after she had made sure that all the bills and utility payments relating to the house were up to date. These were all done so there was no reason for the deposit to be withheld on these grounds either.

Mr Maxwell's original lease contract was only terminated so that the property to be sold. So, it seems doubly puzzling that the reason given for refusing the full return of the deposit was that it was to be used to offset part of the cost of the refurbishment of the house. Such action would only serve to add value to the property, and pictures of the newly redecorated house cannot be used as a means of comparison to the state of the house before and after my term of lease. Suffice it to say that a complete redecoration of the property was much in need even prior to Mr Maxwell moving in. Therefore with no other full or final inventory being properly completed or signed off by Mr Maxwell or the landlady, other than the one stated in the first inventory, then it seems that are again no reasonable grounds for withholding the deposit for these reasons either.

The eCourt Verdict is that Rentaprop have not acted amicably or reasonably in resolving this matter, and so unless the deposit is returned to Mr Maxwell within 28 days, it would appear from the evidence admitted that he would have every right to pursue his claim, not just for the full return of the deposit, but also all his legal costs and any expenses incurred on top of that as well.

Rentaprop did not contest the eCourt Verdict and repaid Mr Maxwell deposit in full.


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