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Letting Agency taken Our Money!


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Apologies in advance for the long read, but I'll try to make it sound the least boring possible :p

 

In summer 2007, our flat lease in Hammersmith finished, and it was time to hand over the keys and get our security deposit back, all went through swimmingly, or so we thought.

 

After a few weeks of starting to lose patience waiting for our deposit to finally come through, we were told we will get it back soon, minus £250 for a cleaning bill (wtf? :o ).

 

We would not have disputed this if we left the place in a horrible state, but we left it absolutely spotless; in an even better condition than when we moved in, back in November 2006.

 

After several arguments with the landlord who never did an inspection himself (though we didn't know that at the time), he said he'd knock £50 off because he first claimed that the place was professionally cleaned before we moved in, when both he knew and I knew he was lying and he admitted he couldn't prove it (because obviously it didn't happen!). I even remember my part of the cleanup operation involving the scrubbing of the bathtub and cleaning out the thin layer of grime from inside & outside of all the kitchen cabinets plus worktops. Oh, and also we didn't have a working fridge for 2 months, but that's another story altogether...

 

So anyways, in the end, we had £200 deducted from our deposit for a supposed £250 cleaning bill that the letting agency paid for, which in turn, was paid for by the landlord out of our deposit deduction (+ £50 of his expense).

 

This is the part where it got interesting. I knew there was something fishy going on, but I couldn't really do anything until the day the security deposit cheque arrived, along with a copy of the cleaning invoice. And here it is! (note: this is the actual piece of paper that arrived, in all its crooked crappy facsimile-esque glory):

 

JK%20Cleaning.png

 

Notice a few things strange about it? The 2 different dates in the header & footer perhaps? Lack of date in the "Date:" field? Lack of invoice number?

 

What about the way our address was written, in abbreviated lettering, "125 F/P/R". Their letting agency was literally 2 doors down from our place which is why they simply refer to it as this. 100% definitely their handwriting as I've seen them write it like that many times before.

 

How about the lack of a "JK Cleaning Services ltd" on companieshouse.gov.uk ? And lack of VAT registration number, for that matter? Or the scribbled out telephone number underneath the cleaner's address?

 

Also I don't know if you can see it clearly in this digital image, but where it says £250, the "25" was written over a number "9".

 

When I showed this to my father, he immediately picked up the phone, rang them up, and demanded (with the threat of legal action) to know why the original cleaning bill was clearly for £90 and had £250 written over the top of it.

 

Their explanation? "We had it cleaned once for £90, but had to get it cleaned again". So how exactly does a cleaning company need to clean a property twice that was already spic & span in the first place? The answer? They didn't. What's more, they admitted to my father that they should not have billed the extra cash for the "second cleaning", because it isn't our responsibility that their "professional cleaner" didn't do a good enough job the first time they were round and had to be paid to do some more. ESPECIALLY if we cleaned the place up ourselves to a more than satisfactory degree anyway.

 

So anyways, after admitting their fault to my father, they sent me a cheque for £110 (plus they should've sent our landlord £50 but I'm sure they didn't), taking the original £200 we paid back down to the initial invoice value of £90.

 

With me so far? :D

 

At that point my father had to leave the country on business and this is pretty much where it was left and forgotten about by us a few months ago... Until the other day, I was sorting out all the paperwork lying around on my desk when I found the invoice and remembered there was still the matter £90 to be resolved! It's not the amount of money that matters, its the PRINCIPLE DAMMIT! :p

 

I rang up the letting agency 2 days ago asking to speak to somebody regarding the matter of an unresolved £90 owed, and was put on hold 3 or 4 times, and the guy responsible for dealing with the property told the poor receptionist lady that he didn't want to speak to me for reasons unknown, even though she already admitted he was standing next to her lol. Instead he told her to tell me to leave a voicemail at his desk (wtf).

 

He left me a voicemail 2 days later saying that I had to take it up with the landlord. This was all despite the fact that it is clearly the agency who owes me the cash, and this has nothing to do with the landlord anymore as he's paid his £50 and we paid our £200 (-£110). When immediately ringing him back and demanded my £90 and mentioning that his invoice was clearly a fake, he refused to answer and became irate very quickly, saying things along the lines of "I don't have time for this chit chat" and when I said I'd take him to court he actually swore down the phone to me before hanging up. Bear in mind this is a high-street letting agency, I was quite shocked and proceeded to laugh in surprise before we both hung up on each other.

 

Immediately afterwards I typed out the following email and sent it to their office, as well has printed out a copy and sent it via recorded 1st class:

 

Dear Broadway & West,

 

Despite being called a “*****” down the phone by Rashid some minutes ago (very professional!), I feel that I still should give Broadway & West one actual written warning before I proceed to small claims court, as obviously after many attempts, certain employees of Broadway & West seem incapable of mature & reasonable phone communication.

 

So here are the facts:

  • Broadway and West supposedly paid for cleaning by a “professional cleaning company” not once, but twice. After the thorough clean that we, the tenants, did before moving out, how could a “professional cleaning company” need to return again once they have supposedly done one additional clean themselves?
  • After just one phone call with my father (because you don’t take students seriously right?) you outright admitted that you charged us for something that you shouldn’t have done. This in itself is cause for concern.
  • Apparently this company was called “JK Cleaning Services Ltd”. The alleged sum for which you took the money from our security deposit of 125 Fulham Palace Road at the end of our Nov `06 – June `07 rent period.
  • “JK Cleaning Services Ltd”, based at the address shown on the invoice does not, and has not existed for as long as CompaniesHouse.gov.uk has record for. This in itself is enough to say that the invoice is completely fake, and therefore I act accordingly. No invoice = no cleaning happened, therefore, you still owe £90.
  • The invoice does not have a VAT registration number on it, despite showing a “Ltd company”, which is required on any invoice with a “VAT @ 17.5%” written on it.
  • The address written on the invoice was simply written as “125 F/P/R”, clearly by yourselves. The last time I checked, invoices need to be written out and sent by the cleaning company, to the company they are billing to for the cleaning.
  • The phone number for contacting “JK Cleaning Services Ltd” has obviously been scribbled out by yourselves. Maybe because you don’t want me to ring them and find out that they probably haven’t even heard of “125 F/P/R” ?
  • Another crucial detail: the date at the top of the invoice says 10-JAN-1996.
  • I could go on with many other things wrong with this invoice, but I believe I have made my point, so I’ll state the case right here.
  • Invoice forgery is serious. I consider this piece of paper to be nothing more than a pathetic attempt to fool me into thinking you had the property cleaned, when in fact you did nothing of the sort, because both you and I know that the property was perfectly clean before we moved out. In addition ,you told our landlord that the property was unclean so he’d go along with it, all so you could pocket a bit of cash.
  • Bottom line: this is fraud. What you have done is illegal on multiple counts. Out of the £200 taken by yourselves (not the landlord), you have refunded £110 back, but I’m still waiting for the remaining £90.
  • Not only am I prepared to take this to court (I already have my case typed out) to reacquire my £90 illegally held by you, but I will also be reporting this case to the Office of Fair Trading. I’m sure they’ll be very interested in invoice forgery.

This is your FINAL WARNING. You have 5 working days to pay back the £90 to my address below. If I do not hear from you by noon on Wednesday 16th January 2008, my next correspondence will be via Her Majesty’s Courts Service.

 

I eagerly await your reply,

 

Heofz

I did the right thing, right? I mean surely, should I submit this to moneyclaim online, they don't have a hope in hell of winning, right?

 

Bunch of [causing problems] ******* :mad:

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you can't write things like lies and completely fake in an LBA, you may get a counter claim for libel. You should rewrite this with less of a temper and with more of a legal head on, if the court thinks your claim is vindictive then you will almost certainly lose.

 

Also LBAs usually give 14 or 28 days before court this is seen as a "reasonable time"

Any posts submitted here on the Consumer Action Group under the user name GlasweJen may not necessarily be the view of the poster, CAG or indeed any normal person.

 

I've become addicted to green blobs (I have 2 now) so feel free to tip my scales if I ever make sense.;-)

 

 

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Just to point out a note, whilst the company may or may not be limited at this point. VAT registration is not compulsary for smaller firms only with companies with a turnover above 60k (Cant remember exact figure)

 

As for the limited company bit well there is a company listed under that name not too far away from the address on the invoice. The address on the invoice may be another small office. So what your saying on that front i'm unsure of wether you have a case.

 

I must add as an owner of a letting agency that I think that this particular agent is at it. Your points I would agree with, their price paid to clean the property is also extremely high. I have over 300properties on my books. A standard 2bedflat for instance would take 4hours to do a full scrub clean.

 

I would fight it and find out if the agent is a member of any governing bodies and report the agency someone like ARLA or NAEA.

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Thanks for your input 21st :)

 

One note to take into account however is that I've done a bit of scouting at the cleaners' address written on the invoice of this cleaning company, and it turns out that it is no more than an ordinary house with a van. Also after several attempts spanning a few weeks, their phone number (which is a mobile, incidentally, i.e. no office) seems to be unreachable, in that all I ever get is a "Sorry the person you are trying reach is not currently able to accept calls. Please try again later", with no option to accept voicemails or anything.

 

Also this agent is quite new in that they've only been operating for less than a year, and they only have one office, so they're just a bunch of cowboys and probably not a member of any of these bodies you speak of. :)

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Hi Heofz,

 

I agree with you from what you say I feel you have a justified grievance, but with reference to the cleaning company working from home and worknig off a mobile i dont personally see an issue with this. However having a business when you dont answer the fone maybe tghat is why he has to charge so much to do the clean.

 

If you want me to PM me the company details i'll see what i can find out about them for you.

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Nah what I meant was that the cleaning company would only be operating from one address; I doubt they have a separate office because they would have an office phone number. I'm sure they are a valid cleaning company, but I'm just saying that the actual mentioning of "JK Cleaning Services ltd" on the invoice is fake, as there isn't an address listed in companieshouse that matches the one on the invoice.

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