A recent case brought to adjudication by a landlord claimed £220 for replacement of heating oil. A photograph of the tank’s interior at the beginning of the tenancy and an email stating it as half full were given as evidence.
500 litres of oil were added to the tank just one month before the end of the tenancy and the tenants provided an invoice to support their claim.
When the adjudicator examined the check-in and check-out reports, neither mentioned the contents of the oil. There was no measurement nor watchman reading from either end of the tenancy.
The landlord was awarded nothing as there was no evidence to support the claim that the oil tank had not been returned to a similar level as when the tenants had moved in. The photograph provided was not sufficient as it was unclear as to the amount contained within the tank. As the landlord did not provide a similar photograph of the interior at the end of the tenancy, no comparison could be drawn.
In a case where landlords are claiming for replacement heating oil, they are expected to provide details of the capacity of the heating oil tank, a measured oil reading or a watchman reading, both at the start and at the end of the tenancy.
This should be recorded on the check-in and check-out reports and ideally signed by the tenants, so that the adjudicator can compare the readings to inform their decision on deductions and awards.
An invoice to show that the tank was filled with oil immediately prior to the start of a tenancy would also be useful evidence to show the amount of oil present at the start of the tenancy.
We recommend that tenants should check the level of oil detailed in the inventory/check-in report to ensure that they agree with the reading and inform the inventory provider within the stipulated time frame if there are any discrepancies.
Similarly, a tenant should keep records of and provide an invoice outlining the cost and amount of oil that they pay for either during or at the end of the tenancy.
This case highlights the importance of recording specific details at the start and end of a tenancy, including invoices as well as check-in and check-out reports agreed by all parties. A detailed record of information at the start, during and end of the tenancy is vital to supporting a claim successfully.
If you’re not sure how to perform watertight check-in and -out reports, don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can help make sure you too don’t end up out of pocket.
01935 277977 or 01460 477977