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After years of complaining about the lack of care the landlord had for the property I was renting from them I finally got served an eviction notice.

I moved out, and 2 weeks later because of terms in the tenancy agreement I was still renting the property but there was a water leak from a bathroom pipe.

I was issued a demand for £4,500 worth of damage to the property which would partially be covered by the deposit which i refused to pay.

I went to my insurance company who told me that they would sort everything out until the landlord claimed that I had deliberately damaged the pipe in the bathroom.

At this point the Insurance company offered me only advice but would not handle the case.

I raised a dispute with the tenancy deposit scheme in order to recover my deposit giving lots of evidence showing that I had continuously complained about the bathroom the whole of of the time I had been living there, at one point the landlord sent their brother in law to fit a whole new bathroom (poorly I might add) and yet all of this was shot down by the adjudicator with the reason being ...

The landlords report states that I damaged the pipe so due to "the balance of probabilities" I was in breach of my tenancy agreement and my full deposit has been awarded to the landlord to cover renovation costs.

I am also aware the landlord intends to sue me for the rest of the cost I refused to pay outside of the adjudication process.

My understanding (which may be wrong) ...

In a civil case the law seems to state that if I am "probably at fault" (in this case, I had a set of keys which appears to be enough to implicate me) then I likely am liable.

In a Criminal case it would have to be certain that I did indeed cause the damage and proof to that nature would need to be provided in order for me to be deemed liable.

So, my question is ...

Given that the landlord claims I "criminally damaged" their property but never provided a single shred of evidence to back this up what can I do to fight this with no help from my insurer?

... or ...

Is there some way I can force this in to a criminal court or in the event that this can't be forced that way perhaps force my insurer to step in and help?

  • I would certainly be asking the landlord to provide all evidence that the pipe had been damaged by yourself and had not simply broken by wear and tear. This would include but not be limited to pictures of the pipe and statements from the plumbing company who fixed it. If the landlord cannot provide this then based on just the information given, I find it hard to believe a court would find on the balance of probabilities that you were at fault. – rwolst Dec 4 '15 at 22:10
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Given that the landlord claims I "criminally damaged" their property but never provided a single shred of evidence to back this up what can I do to fight this with no help from my insurer?

The only thing you can do is bring a claim in the County Court (assuming you are in England or Wales) against your landlord for recovery of your deposit. Since you agreed to use the deposit scheme's Alternative Dispute Resolution service, and the adjudicator found against you, the landlord will undoubtedly introduce his findings as evidence in his defence. You will have to adduce evidence to the contrary.

The standard of proof in a civil case is on the balance of probabilities. Since you are bringing the claim, it will be for you to prove that it's more likely than not that you did not cause the damage yourself. Without seeing the evidence it's impossible to say what your chances of success might be. You should seek legal advice before beginning a claim.

Is there some way I can force this in to a criminal court...

No, you can't. The only way this could become a criminal matter is if your landlord involves the police. Under the circumstances it seems unlikely that he would do this, and even less likely that the police would consider it anything other than a civil matter.

...or in the event that this can't be forced that way perhaps force my insurer to step in and help?

You could raise a formal complaint with your insurer and, if that doesn't give you the result you want, refer the matter to the Financial Ombudsman. You should read their procedures carefully before doing so.

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This answer is for U.S. law.

  1. Avoid the criminal justice system. Don't force your case into criminal court. The only two possible outcomes are (a) conviction (b) acquittal. Conviction can be used against you in civil court. Acquittal can not be used to prove that you are not civilly liable as the standard of proof is higher for the prosecution in a criminal case (reasonable doubt) than it is for the plaintiff in a civil case (preponderance of evidence).

  2. Civilly, you would have no other recourse but to appeal the adjudication or sue them in landlord / tenant court or small claims court. Depending on the rules at play in your situation.

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. I am not your attorney. This site is for educational purposes only. So do not follow my advice. Instead, hire a real attorney to advise you.

  • Thanks Mowzer: The deposit scheme terms claim i have no right of appeal and that the decision is legally binding. It's a strange one for sure, seems odd that I can be billed for this with no reasonable level of proof though, my worry of course is that I will end up paying the full £4,500 bill when I was clearly not at fault but I have no way of knowing how I can defend myself when all they need to do is state it and that somehow appears to be enough on the "balance of probabilities". – War Sep 17 '15 at 8:08

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