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Landlord attempting to make unreasonable deductions


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I have read through several very helpful threads here, regarding similar situations to the one my husband I are in now, and thought I would ask for some advice.

 

Basically, our landlord won't give us back our deposit - he's trying to make claims for numerous things we believe are wear and tear, or else which aren't our responsibility at all (were broken before we moved in, or simply broke down under wear and tear, such as taps rusting apart, which he did not repair for 18 months, so we had no cold water in the kitchen for the bulk of our tenancy), and is saying he wants more money than the actual deposit. We have tried to agree to reasonable terms (still pretty unreasonable, really), but he isn't budging. All the negotiating thus far has been done via the letting agents, who, unfortunately, are not that bright, so obviously we have to take it into our own hands now.

 

Having read the threads here, I see that you are advising people that without an inventory, he can't actually make ANY deductions. This is wonderful news, but, short of going to a solicitor, I would really like any hints you may have on convincing him of that, because at present he seems to believe that we should replace all his furniture (the deductions he is trying to make are literally that high), as well as paying for the place to be professionally cleaned, which we consider utterly out of order, as it was not clean at all when we moved in.

 

The letting agents, however, do not seem to be aware of the law - they're telling us we have to pay for the cleaning because "it's in the contract". The contract does state that we should pay for any cleaning services required to return the property to its state when we moved in, but since it wasn't professionally cleaned at that point, this seems like a nonsense (even if the Office of Fair Trading didn't say that professional cleaning was an unfair term, which it does).

 

I've just noticed as well that the contract says that we have to pay for the value of the replacement of any furniture lost, damaged or destroyed, which again seems like an unfair term, because things certainly deteriorated (a seam came undone in one of the couch cushions, for example, and the slats of the bed cracked through normal use - the furniture was pretty rubbish, and used to begin with), but only in the course of normal usage.

 

I'm putting together a letter before action, based on the excellent example in this forum, but I haven't been able to get hold of either the Shelter hotline or the Citizens Advice Bureau (both constantly engaged), and I really need some advice for what to put in which is totally convincing about the tenuousness of his legal position, because this landlord is both ignorant and pigheaded, and the letting agent is ignorant as well.

 

Also, does it help in any way to mention the fact that we didn't have any cold water in the kitchen for 18 months, or that we didn't have a working shower for 3 months because he was trying to get us to pay for that as well (the wall collapsed because it wasn't waterproof, and the plasterboard was saturated)? He was a pretty negligent landlord.

 

I think this may end up in court, really, but I'd like to avoid it if possible, so I would like to have a watertight and convincing letter before action.

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You dont need a solicitor, just take to small claims court - a solicitor really isnt required for this.

 

Some thoughts:

 

- Without an inventory(OR equally valid evidence), he has no base condition on which to base a comparison of the property before and after. Therefore he has no way in which to prove that any of the alleged damages occurred during the tenancy.

- Dont use CAB, they are worse than useless in this situation. Shelter are somewhat better.

- The lack of cold water is a good point to mention, but somewhat "after the horse has bolted" so to speak.

 

Some questions.

 

When did you move in?

How much is the deposit?

How much is the total claim from the LL?

When did you move out?

Have you received any receipts/invoices for the work?

How does your agreement say the deposit is held, stakeholder or agent?

I know it is tedious, but it is worth outlining all the damages in question and your arguments against.

7 years in retail customer service

 

Expertise in letting and rental law for 6 years

 

By trade - I'm an IT engineer working in the housing sector.

 

Please note that any posts made by myself are for information only and should not and must not be taken as correct or factual. If in doubt, consult with a solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

 

Please click the star if I have helped!!

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Thank you for the quick response.

 

When did you move in? August 2005

 

How much is the deposit? £692. Not huge, I know, but we can't afford to lose the whole lot.

 

How much is the total claim from the LL? Not sure yet - we were given an offer for £600 via the letting agent, but in the next conversation she told my husband that he was after over £1000.

 

When did you move out? 18th August 2007.

Have you received any receipts/invoices for the work? Nope. It's not even for work - it's for the replacement of furniture, mostly.

 

How does your agreement say the deposit is held, stakeholder or agent? It doesn't.

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Meh - £692 of your money! That is a lot of money, of course you should dispute it :)

 

The full breakdown of the claims would be useful. Failing that, basically the four golden rules of deposit recovery apply:

 

- Without adequate proof(such as an inventory), he cannot prove damages and therefore cannot deduct.

- Any damages must be "like for like" - ie a 5 year old chair should be deducted pro rata for replacement, not just the cost of a new chair in replacement. This is also called "betterment".

- Fair wear and tear cannot be included.

- Nothing can be deducted without the work/replacements actually being performed, unless the contract has a clause regarding compensationary deductions. In addition, you are legally entitled to receive the invoices and/or receipts.

7 years in retail customer service

 

Expertise in letting and rental law for 6 years

 

By trade - I'm an IT engineer working in the housing sector.

 

Please note that any posts made by myself are for information only and should not and must not be taken as correct or factual. If in doubt, consult with a solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

 

Please click the star if I have helped!!

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The deductions that we've been advised of are as follows:

 

£200 for the couch (loveseat, definitely not new when we moved in, as it was full of peanuts and crap, and had a stash of porn inside it)

 

£160 for the bed (again, not new, as the mattress was sunken and it started breaking down quite quickly)

 

£20 for curtains (not new, have deteriorated a bit, but really just wear and tear)

 

£65 for carpet cleaning (was not cleaned before we moved in)

 

£160 for professional cleaning (DEFINITELY was not professionally cleaned before we moved in - there was mold in the fridge, dried faeces in the toilet, greasy oven, dirty plates and pots under the sink, etc etc).

 

Supposedly there are other things, but that's all we've really been advised of, and the other things that have been mentioned are things like the missing screw in the washing machine door, which was missing before we moved in (and reported) and the missing screw in the shower door, which was never actually put in because the plumber drilled the hole in the wrong place.

 

He doesn't have an inventory as none was made or signed.

 

We've tried to be allow for a certain amount of deduction just to facillitate the process, but the letting agent says he's not going to go for it. So we're just going to have to push it forward. I think he genuinely doesn't know that what he's asking for isn't lawful, but that doesn't make it any easier to get the the money back.

 

Thank you for the replies, MrShed, it is a big help.

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No problem :)

 

I think the only way to get through to these idiots is court unfortunately. However, a judge SHOULD see through them and realise they are just trying to better the property at your expense. It would be helpful(not essential) if you have written evidence of the items you notified them of, and also a witness or two to testify to the condition of the property when you moved in.

7 years in retail customer service

 

Expertise in letting and rental law for 6 years

 

By trade - I'm an IT engineer working in the housing sector.

 

Please note that any posts made by myself are for information only and should not and must not be taken as correct or factual. If in doubt, consult with a solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

 

Please click the star if I have helped!!

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Unfortunately, although we wrote down a bunch of things on moving in, it was just a handwritten note which is in the property of the letting agents (if they still have it...). We do have a witness to the condition of the property, though - she helped us move and was quite appalled by it. She might remember certain things though, like the missing screw.

 

Thanks again. I'm fairly confident that there won't be a problem if we go to court. We've tried to be reasonable, and the landlord really isn't being reasonable at all. It's just deeply frustrating when someone is so totally wrong, and you give significant concessions, and they still don't get it.

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Note

 

This is a self-help forum in which users share their experiences. Assistance is offered informally, without any assumption of liability. Use your own judgement; obtain advice from a qualified and insured professional if you have any doubts.

 

This posting gives general guidance only. It is not an authoritative statement of the law. Consult a Solicitor for specific advice before deciding on any course of action.

 

 

Further information:

 

Assured and Shorthold tenancies - A guide for tenants

 

Renting and Leasehold - Advice from Shelter

 

 

All posts are opinion only

 

 

If you've found my suggestions useful, please click on my star and add a comment

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