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Everything posted by RCBanks

  1. Our landlord contacted us today and asked to have one of the utility bills in his name. He told us directly that this was because his mortgage lenders will charge him more interest and that if his name was on one of the utility bills, this would help him convince his lenders that he hasn't let the property. My flatmate and I are not getting involved in any of this. Anyone else got any similar stories or advice on anything we should look out for? Many thanks.
  2. My landlord regularly fails to pay his mortgage on time. The reminder letters arrive and I forward them on. I know that he has received letters I have forwarded on in the past and I don't have reason to believe he is in serious arrears. I have now received a letter from the mortgage lenders addressed to 'The occupier' that says that their mail is being returned. They have now asked for a contact name, address and tel no where they can reach him. They have also requested my tenancy agreement. (For the record, he used a letting agency to find a tenant (me) but the agency don't manage the property) I have no problem giving them his address and tel no, but requesting my tenancy agreement seems strange to me. Should I be concerned? Thanks for any advice on what I should do.
  3. Thanks for relating your own experience, ShortlyTdwarf. We are quite aware that production of an inventory is NOT our responsibility and that given that the LL and Agency do not have one, they can't prove that any problems with the checkout were caused by us. After all, there is no piece of paper signed by tenant and landlord in which we agree on the state of the property. In the end we have taken this action because there are a few things in the property that need some attention. Our hope is that this will first prompt the LL in addressing these things. Later (should there be any problems in having the deposit returned) we now have it on record that we produced an inventory because none was provided despite requests. In other words, we as tenants have tried to behave responsibly and properly where the LL and Agency have not. We are not going through this exercise for their benefit. The idea is that this reflects badly on them whilst we have tried to do things correctly.
  4. Thanks, Pebble. Our deposit is with the Deposit Protection Service and ,yes, we'll certainly be writing up a detailed inventory of our own and we had it independently witnessed, too. The flat certainly has issues so these things do need to be brought to the owner's attention. We'll also include a note that this inventory was produced because none was provided and that the landlord and letting agent were absent. All parties will get copies with a CD-Rom/prints of the photos. The landlord isn't local and I get the feeling that it will be difficult to deal with him if anything important arises. I don't know how they'd do a check out either in these circumstances. Anyway, the following advice is found on the Shelter webpages: If your landlord or agent won't provide an inventory, you can make one yourself and get an independent witness (someone who doesn't live in the property) to sign it and send a copy to the landlord. You can use our sample inventory form to get started. It also helps if you take photos of the property (especially any existing damage) when you first move in. Shelter: Making an inventory
  5. Just got the keys to a new flat today and fully expected to do an inventory check with the letting agent. However the agent told us that she had not been supplied with an inventory by the landlord. Apparently the agency was only responsible for finding tenants and are not managing the property for the owner. Anyway, she told us that there might be an inventory at the property (there wasn't) and if not, WE SHOULD PRODUCE ONE OURSELVES! Well, my housemate and I made notes on everything and took lots of photos but I don't think we'll be doing the landlord's work for him. So I'm curious as to why they asked us to produce our own inventory. Apparently the letting agents will do the checkout when we come to leave so is there anything potentially sinister in that, do you think? Moreover, can an inventory be produced at a later date?
  6. No disputing that, Mr Shed. I just wanted some background on the situation given that court proceedings are being mentioned. I hadn't noticed that nuggy had outlined the case in a different thread: http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/landlords-tenants/8760-letting-agent-not-returned.html
  7. You say that you were invoiced but did the letting agency actually provide receipts/other documentary evidence for the work that was carried out? If not, have you made a request? If they did the work, there should be a paper trail and you are entitled to see a full breakdown of what your money was spent on. If they can't provide that, then I can't see that they have a case for making deductions.
  8. Yes, very helpful. Thank you. It could be that everything is above board but I'll certainly be checking.
  9. Thanks, Rich. Sorry if I am being dim but just to clarify: A small firm with a turnover under £65,000 might not be VAT registered but is still liable for VAT and that VAT charge needs to show up on an invoice even though ther might not be VAT registered number on it. Is that right? I've looked at some of the HM Revenues and Customs web pages but the relevant info has probably eluded me.
  10. I appreciate the warning, gemmabe. I have finally got a copy of the invoice for cleaning. The total amount was for £225 of which £80 was paid by the landlord and £145 was passed to me and my housemates. The invoice istself is a generic-type that you might be able to buy in an office supplies store. All of the fields are completed by hand and there is no company logo or anything like that. For now I have two concerns: 1. I have a company name and an address (no tel no.) for the people who did the cleaning. So far I have not been able to find this company in any local directory or via a google search. The closest I have come is to find a company specialising in refrigeration that has an online listing giving the same address but this might be outdated information. I'll try to go there myself to take a look but surely there must be a register that I can search through to check that such a firm exists but I have no idea where to look. Any suggestions are welcome. 2. It isn't entirely clear who has charged VAT. If it was the cleaning company then why is the total given only '£225' and not '£225+VAT'? It might just be an oversight, I suppose. In any case, this company would have to registered for VAT, right?. Is there a way I can check online? or do I have to contact my nearest tax office? Just to check, the letting agency couldn't have added the VAT charge themselves could they? A cleaning company is probably subject to VAT but I ask because the only note on the invoice about the VAT is in a text box added by the agency.
  11. In my own ongoing case I have given my letting agency 10 working days to respond to my letters. If you haven't heard anything after that, write a second request that is strongly worded but be careful to stick to the facts and don't make any accusations. The third time you write (if necessary) might have to be a letter before action (LBA). Be sure to keep a full record of any contact (emails, letters, phonecalls). Am I right in thinking that no cheque has been issued to you so far? If so, does your contract say anything about how long it should take for the return of your money? If you were there for the checkout I would ask how these issues later came to light. I think I'm right in saying that a tenant should be allowed the opportunity to recify such issues if they are identified in final inspection before full vacation. Perhaps someone with more expertise here on the forum could advise. Be sure to get those invoices for items that have been replaced and for the cleaning work. Did the landlord do the decorating work himself? If so he can only charge a fixed amount per hour. Knoxvillain and others will be able to tell you more, I'm sure. Good luck.
  12. More info on the £9.25 p/h quoted by Knoxvillain can be found in the following threads: repairs - LandlordZONE Forums Court proceedings started - LandlordZONE Forums
  13. Thanks, Joan. Yes it is a strange set of affairs. He claims to have written to us shortly after my first meeting with him at the end of October. If he did, the letter wet missing. I will ask to see a copy and I fully expect he won't be able to produce it. In addition to this, when we didn't receive a response within 14 days to that first letter, a phonecall was made on my behalf by someone at an advice centre I went to. She spoke to another person in their office who claimed he had written to us the day before and the matter was closed. When the advisor asked him to detail what was in that letter, he refused saying he was too busy. He had no idea I was present when that call was made and no letter was ever received. I'm sure that if I ask to see that letter they won't have anything to show me. To have two letters go missing in the post sounds careless even for Royal Mail. Anyway, on account of our reminder letter being strongly worded he did call within a few hours and was very irritated. Apparently he 'doesn't have time' to write letters (as if we do) and that if we want to take things further he can refer us to someone else (his solicitors I presume). I would rather have his response in writing but my housemate and I will go there in person. We are expecting to see a cleaning bill for greater than the £145+VAT that was deducted because as they keep saying to us without producing the documents, the landlord wanted all the carpets cleaned and we were charged for only two of them. Personally we don't think the carpets were dirty beyond fair wear and tear of a year but but let's see the documents first. I believe they're very 'chummy' with the cleaners they use so I'm not sure how we will be able to determine the veracity of the invoices/receipts they show us.
  14. Happy new year, everyone. It's been a while, but here's an update: I sent a second request letter to them by recorded delivery on 06 December but no-one was in to sign for it and no-one called Royal Mail for it. It was subsequently returned to me at the start of this month. This morning I hand delivered a letter attached and received a telephone call from the guy in charge this afternoon. He claims to have sent us a letter in response to our first visit at the end of October. He also said that the documention we requested is available in his office for us to see and has been for months. He invited us to go in and see for ourselves [he claimed not to have the time to respond in writing]. He also said yet again that the total amount for cleaning was above what we had been charged [of course, contractually we can only be charged for any cleaning for anything considered over and above fair wear and tear]. He seemed quite irritated and presumably had not read the letter very closely because he mentioned in a superior tone that our 'threat' to report them to ARLA would be no good because 'we aren't members'. In fact, our letter says no such thing and merely quotes from the guidelines which represent good practice for everyone, members or not. My housemate and I are planning to go to their office on Wednesday morning. We assume that we will be shown something whether authentic or not. Any advice you might have for when we go is very gratefully received. What should we look for? What questions should we ask? P.S. With regard to the VAT issue mentioned by bankoff, I assume that the VAT charges were originally made by the cleaning company and the letting agency are simply passing totla charges on to us. If so, does that leave any avenues to explore? Cheers.
  15. Thank you for that, Bankoff - that's very useful to know. I don't think that we'll use the VAT angle just yet but we'll keep that up our sleeve. One of my housemates has been away so we haven't sent the reminder letter, yet, but we will do this week. I don't think they do their own cleaning because they mentioned the name of a firm but we haven't found them listed in any directory. The more I think about it, the more I think something fishy is going on. We went there on 18 October to ask about the money and one of them went over to a file to check and he gave us a figure. The cheque written the next day by the man who runs the place was for £105 less. What happened in those 24hrs? What was the first men checking when he went over to his files? What was he quoting? One other thing - I was going to quote from ARLA guidelines in the next letter. Is there a way to find out if they're members without asking them directly? Thanks.
  16. The cheque didn't arrive with anything that says it's a final settlement but we'll be cautious. My housemates and I will work on drafting our next letter and follow the course of action suggested in this thread. Thanks again for the advice. With regard to having a legal right to receipts, is there anything we should be quoting to make the case? Best wishes.
  17. Thanks, again. I shall include that in the next letter. So let's hypothesise for a moment that we do contemplate going to court. The facts are these: - A cheque was received [about 40 days after vacation of the property] for £718. - This included a deduction for admin costs [this is clearly stated in the tenancy contract so I don't know if we can dispute anything here]. - There was another deduction for cleaning costs. Initially we were told it would be for £55 + VAT but it then became £145 + VAT. - Having allowed them plenty of time, no supporting documentation has been received despite the agency's assurance it would be. Given that a cheque for £718 was already received, if we DO go to court, what would be claiming? I'm guessing it would be £145 +VAT plus interest at 8% for everyday after the date at which the deposit was returned to the point at which we start the action. Would that be right? One other thing. We haven't paid in the cheque that we do have for fear of appearing to agree with the amount returned. Is that the best course of action? Thanks, again and best wishes.
  18. Thanks. So far we're not really disputing anything because we don't have the full facts to dispute over. This situation arose because the letting agency told us the deduction from the deposit for cleaning would be £55 but that had become £145 by the next day. Due to the discrepancy we asked for clarification (in writing) with supporting documentary evidence. In other words, we just want to know that such cleaning actually took place. It's the fact that they said they would do that but haven't and have also apparently lied about sending us a letter that us causing us concern at the this stage. As it happens we think that £145 is excessive but they're reluctant to give us any info to go on. We think that an appropriately worded letter is the next step. Does anyone think that we are at the stage of needing to consider County Court action? Would that be worth it?
  19. Anybody? I've found the following two pages of advice but neither makes it clear that the letting agency is legally obliged to provide me with a full breakdown of costs and documentary evidence for cleaning at the end of the tenancy. = = = = If your landlord refuses to return the deposit when you leave you should be told the reasons for this. Ask for a breakdown of the costs your landlord incurred. Decide whether you agree with the costs. If you are prepared to accept some of the costs and not others write back and say so. If not, you could try to negotiate or take your landlord to court. From: Shelter: What deposits cover = = = = And: • Irrespective of how a deposit has been held, make sure that communications are conducted promptly, regularly, politely and fairly, as appropriate, during negotiations after the end of the tenancy. Confirm pertinent details in writing and provide copies of relevant significant information and supporting documentation. • Ensure that any instructions to contractors/suppliers and, subsequently, contractors/suppliers quotes/receipts provide a sufficiently detailed breakdown to clarify precisely what work is to be/was carried out in which areas of a property. It should then be simple for all parties to assess and understand what portion of the work and costs can lawfully be allocated to the tenants in the light of the inventory checkout report or tenancy agreement obligations. This helps avoid accusations of betterment against the landlord. From: http://www.arla.co.uk/download/dealing_with_deps_disps_dams.pdf = = = Would a Landlord and Tenancy Act include a passage stating that the Letting Agent is legally obliged to pass on invoices/receipts relating to deductions made from the deposit? So far I haven't found anything so please help. In my next letter to them I would like to be able to quote the law so they are in no position to ignore me further.
  20. I and two others moved out of a house at the beginning of September and having waited over 28 days for the return of our deposit (£1000), visited the letting agency (18 October) to be told we could expect it shortly. Whilst there I asked how much I could expect to receive and the chap I spoke to checked the files and informed me it would be £823.74. Deductions were for £95 +VAT admin and £55 + VAT spot cleaning. The admin fee is clearly stated in the contract and we were not going to dispute the cleaning. [i do have some basic photos of the house after we left it and it was in a very clean/tidy state but perhaps cleaning two areas of carpet was justified.] Three days later a cheque (dated 19 October) arrived for £718 with a cleaning deduction that was now £145 + VAT. [This cheque has not been paid into an account and remains in our possession]. I went to their office with a letter and asked for receipts/invoices etc to clear up the confusion. I watched as the man who runs the place fumbled around in a few files before claiming the bookkeeper who is only in the office two days a week, must have them with her. He also (apparently) made unsuccessful telephone calls to the bookkeeper and the cleaning company before saying he would send me what I asked for. Two weeks later (9 November), we had received nothing and I visited an advice centre where the advisor called the agents on my behalf. She was told that a letter had been sent the previous day addressing the matter but again nothing was received. Either that was a lie, an error due to incompetence, or it was lost in the post. We are now pondering our next step. From our point of view the agency has caused confusion by initially saying one thing and then giving us something else and we want that discrepancy cleared up with invoices/receipts. A £145 +VAT cleaning charge does sound too much to us but at this stage we’re more concerned by their apparent reluctance to provide documents that should be in their possession. There might be something improper going on but have been careful not to make any accusations. We have simply asked to know how our money was spent. Therefore, in our next letter, what should we be quoting to ensure that we look informed and they get the message that they can’t just fob us off like this? Thanks for your help.
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