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polus

Mouldy flat, part of deposit withheld...

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Sorry for the long text…

 

The landlord of our old property has withheld £160 from our deposit. £60 for a checkout inventory (which I was not informed of so could not attend) and £100 for cleaning.

 

1. “Cleaning”

 

Throughout the tenancy I kept the landlord informed of a mould problem that was pretty dire in the winters. All internal/outside walls in the flat would have/had black mould growing up them and the bedroom wardrobe contained a layer of white mould on the floor. Eventually I suspected it was taking its toll on our health and we moved out. Many times we cleaned the mould from the walls and the floor but it’s kept coming back. The tenancy lasted for 3 years and was started before the deposit protection schemes.

 

They are withholding the £100 for cleaning the property with I think is completely unfair given that we cleaned the property very well (I have pictures), we even hired a carpet cleaner.

 

They argue that we caused the damp problem by not opening windows, despite much of the mould growth to be in the bedroom wardrobe well away from sources of moisture. Besides, we did open windows when having a shower or cooking and I think it’s unreasonable to ask that a tenant has the windows open all the time, especially in winter and given that it invalidates insurance.

 

When I complained about the charges they said that we were lucky they didn’t charge us for refurbishment and that they would have to repaint the flat insinuating (only) that this is what my money would be covering! I asked how we could have caused a problem; they couldn’t answer this and simply said it was down to us not opening the windows? They eventually (after 30 minutes) agreed to meet me at the flat to discuss the issue but before this was due to happen they cancelled and are not interested.

 

In 10 years of renting I’ve never had to leave windows open all the time, Ive never had a problem with damp and I’ve never had an agency so reluctant to do anything about a problem! A representative did visit once, admitted there was a problem but left it at that. We I rang up they just said that they had my letters on file.

 

The many people who visited us in the flat all commented how damp it was but it was a very busy period in our lives during which we were looking for a house to buy so didn’t want to be locked into a tenancy.

 

2. Checkout fee

 

There is a paragraph in the contract which states “to be responsible for the costs of the landlord or agent incurred in relation to checking the said furniture and effects against those specified in the inventory at the end of the tenancy”

 

I was not informed of the inventory and neither am I even aware of an inventory although it could be that I’ve forgotten, I certainly don’t have it in my paperwork and I’m normally fastidious about these things.

 

As the flat was only part furnished I don’t believe that £60 is fair given that the agent advertises jobs for 20K which mean that £60 is around 4 man hours to check 5 items.

---

 

TBH, even if it’s only £100, its incredulous that after failing to advise or resolve what can only be described as a ‘the words mouldiest flat’ for which we were expected to pay full rent, they charge us for “cleaning it” (repainting), when we had in-fact cleaned the kitchen, bathroom, walls and carpet to a good standard. I suspect they will do the same to the next tenant, funnily enough it was repainted before we moved in…

 

Q. Is the checkout fee enforceable?

Q. How do I go about claiming my £100 back for "cleaning"?

 

All things being fair I reckon they owe me rent for putting up with the damp/mould.

 

Many thanks in advance for any advice...

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when did the tenancy start, if after April 2007 then deposit should have been protected and you could lodge dispute on that amount and they should release remainder. If no you can sue LL/Agent for 3x deposit amount.

Can only charge for check against inventory if you signed one at the begining of the term; what are they checking it against!

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raydetinu - tenant did say that tenancy began BEFORE the April 2007 date for deposit protection.

 

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/pdf/Mould.pdf

 

Regarding damp and mould. Most of this will have been the result of condensation. I will attach a link to a very informative document on the subject. Your bedroom is actually a major source of condensation simply because of your breathing!! I was amazed when I read how much water vapour human beings breath out!!

 

Some flats are more prone to these problems, particularly old victorian properties which do not have cavity walls, and properties which are not adequately heated and ventilated (what is needed is a through passage of air) - and mould is difficult to eradicate once it is present. Drying clothes indoors is a major problem too - particularly things like towels and jeans.

 

Regarding your unreturned deposit. You could write to the Agent/Landlord and say that you do not agree with their deductions and that under the circumstances you will be suing them for the return of your deposit in full. Then use MCO (money claim online) - the procedure is quite simple.

 

Good luck


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Oh yes, missed that! However it may have been renewed over the time by signing new AST's? so it may be relevant. three yeras is a long time for a rolling contract.

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Oh yes, missed that! However it may have been renewed over the time by signing new AST's? so it may be relevant. three yeras is a long time for a rolling contract.

 

It is not unusual - but perhaps polus would confirm that they did not sign a renewal AST after April 2007 as this would change some of our advice.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Ask for a copy of their checking out inventory, together with pictures. Personally I am in the same situation as you, but my condensation problem is due to faulty windows and incorrectly sized radiator. I am going to throw Section 11 at them, maybe you can do the same?


NatWest for £272:Full and final settlement: 13/11/06

Argos Card for £52.50:Paid to Argos account: 10/11/06

Bank of Scotland for £218:Full and final settlement: 25/01/07

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Thanks for the help, it’s very much appreciated.

 

I did not sign a renewal of the tenancy agreement so it is before the magic date and after the first 6 months we just did month-by-month.

 

I don’t doubt there was a problem with some form of moisture but what I am annoyed about is that keeping the windows open most of the time, especially in winter just isn’t going to work. We paid a fortune in heating so we could keep the windows on the latch to let the flat ‘breath’ but it didn’t seem to make any difference. Besides, as above, in 10 years of renting I simply haven’t had a problem like this. Bloody awful it was. Thanks for the PDF I will have a good read J

 

Alvinlwh – Section 11? I have to say Im not sure what the process is?

 

Ill send them a letter asking for what you suggest and for full justification of monies withheld.

 

Thanks again.

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Damp, Condensation & Mould in Rental Property I’m now enlightened into the world of condensation :p

 

“Condensation is encouraged by poor air circulation where stagnant air pockets form”

 

“The modern life style, and particularly that of tenants, means that many houses remain unoccupied and unheated throughout the greater part of the day”

 

“Check that all airbricks are clear “

 

“Check the guttering and down pipes, make sure that they are carrying the water away and that there are no damaged/blocked gutters or drainpipes causing the external wall to become soaking wet. “

 

All very true. No airbricks, leaking guttering and double glazing that pretty much sealed the flat. We did used to leave the windows on the latch as much as possible because it was obviously humid because we had three electric heaters.

 

I wouldn’t agree it was our fault as tenants. It may have been caused by someone living in the flat but it’s rented as accommodation! If the above circumstances are true I would think it’s fair to say that the landlord choose to ignore a problem by not fixing the guttering or fitting airbricks (supplying a dehumidifier wouldn’t go amiss).

 

I’m not sure it should be a tenants responsibility to look after the building in the those ways (?), fair enough if we hadn’t bothered to heat the property, that’s negligent, but we did and have the (huge) bills to prove it. :(

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Do the UPVC window have trickle vents? What floor were you on if a flat?

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Hi,

 

I think I know what you mean - small/slim vents normally at the top of the frame. The answer is no, they did not, they were very cheap UPVC windows TBH.

 

Floor - wooden floor boards (I presume so as we used to hear them squeak).

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Well there's part of your argument then - it is necessary to have a good mix of warmth and fresh air all year round in any property to avoid condensation ultimately leading to damp patches appearing. If you have the trickle vents open then this takes away the need to have a window open slightly each room. If you haven't got them then you can't do that and would have to open windows. That's why I also asked what floor you were on (not what type of floor - how high up in the building) because you may feel it is unsafe to have open windows on the ground floor (although it can be a risk of burglaries ect, it is also unhealthy to live in a double glazed centrally heated environment which we then seal ourselves into.)

 

But since you tell me you have old wood floors, then I have found that these, rather than make a problem out of damp, actually relieve it, presumably because they allow a free flow of air.

 

Well you are out of there now so I hope your new home goes well, just don;t forget, if you and the missus discharge 2 pints of water whilst sleeping at night in one room, and all your windows are shut tight, the moisture has to go somewhere.

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They were wood floors but had no ventilation as there was very thick underlay.

 

I have to say Im surprised and knew nothing about how much moisture is released from 'living'.

 

New home is going very well, its nice and dry :D

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After more phones calls and letters to the landlord, a goodwill gesture of the inventory charge has been given but they clearly state that the flat must be ‘professionally cleaned’ after vacating the property so will not refund the £115.

 

The contract isn’t grammatically correct but says: “Pay for professional cleaning of the property the washing (including ironing or pressing) of all linen and for the washing and cleaning and cleaning (including ironing or pressing) of all counterpanes blankets carpets soft furnishings and cutains which shall have been soiled during the tenancy”.

 

I remember reading this before signing it and thinking it just meant if we had stained any linen, curtains or carpets, which we didn’t. Besides, the flat was rented unfurnished.

 

The flat was left in a good clean state, especially when you take into account the condensation/damp problems we encountered.

 

They never allowed us to have a ‘checkout’ and thus rectify any issues they viewed.

 

They won’t (after several requests) provide us with the receipts.

 

It’s worth mentioning that the checkin fee was £250 so they have certainly had there pound of flesh.

 

I have tried to be diplomatic about this with the landlord but he says it’s the agents fault as he has never had the money `sigh`.

 

I would like to proceed with court action but worried they will interpret the contract, as it is OK to charge us £115 cleaning charges.

 

IN many years of renting these lot really are the biggest shysters I have had the displeasure to meet.

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Once again the reason why I advise everyone to withold their last months rent to counter the deposit paid. Then you hold the monies and can pay if you believe it is correct or let them sue and explain to a CC judge what they feel is correct.

 

Now you are in the postion where you will have to sue him. If you win you then have to try and pry the money out of his grip.

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Once again the reason why I advise everyone to withold their last months rent to counter the deposit paid.

 

And that is why I, as a landlord, keep 1.5 month's rent as deposit (properly protected of course). The deposit is held as recompense for damage caused by tenants - but I disagree in its being used for check-out fees and such like.

 

By the way, if they cannot produce a proper check-in inventory (and a good one does not just describe the "five bits of furniture", but the whole condition of the property) which you have agreed to and signed, they cannot prove the condition at the end of the tenancy and you would have a good case in this respect. However, some agents do charge these exhorbitant fees and since you signed your agreement to them (in the original AST), I don't think you can do anything about it.

 

People are becoming much more wary now and insisting (before taking on a tenancy) on a list of all fees which may be charged by the agent. Some of these are outrageously expensive but at least if you are aware of them, you can choose to try elsewhere.

 

And it is not that I don't sympathise with polus in this matter.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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And that is why I, as a landlord, keep 1.5 month's rent as deposit (properly protected of course). The deposit is held as recompense for damage caused by tenants - but I disagree in its being used for check-out fees and such like.

Is it even lawful to deduct fees from the deposit? I thought it was legally ringfenced for dilapidations only

 

People are becoming much more wary now and insisting (before taking on a tenancy) on a list of all fees which may be charged by the agent. Some of these are outrageously expensive but at least if you are aware of them, you can choose to try elsewhere.

This pre-supposes that tenants decide to choose an agent then rent a property from that agent. I suspect that the reality is that, like me, most tenants see a property they like and have to suffer the agent as a consequence (or don't take the property)

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And the above last statement is why I’m thinking of buying somewhere. I quite like renting as we can just pick up and move; especially relevant in these uncertain economic times, and even more so now that many places (IMO) have antisocial problems, but I’ve had enough.

 

Even though I’ve never before had the above problems I’ve never had a landlord or agent that wasn’t a complete pain to deal with.

 

keep 1.5 month's rent as deposit

 

...

 

By the way, if they cannot produce a proper check-in inventory (and a good one does not just describe the "five bits of furniture", but the whole condition of the property) which you have agreed to and signed, they cannot prove the condition at the end of the tenancy and you would have a good case in this respect. However, some agents do charge these exhorbitant fees and since you signed your agreement to them (in the original AST), I don't think you can do anything about it.

 

Yes this deposit was 6 weeks rent.

 

Indeed, this is why Im thinking hard before I proceed. I must say its irritating as Im not entitled to legal aid yet solictors fees seem to be around £100! So it seems the powers that be deem it OK for someone in my position to get ripped off.

 

oft356 OFT - excessive cleaning charges - as a matter of normal practice in short lets, reflecting the common law, tenants are expected to return the property in as good and clean a condition as it was when they received it, with fair wear and tear excepted. We therefore commonly object to terms that could be used to make the tenant pay for the property to be cleaned to a higher standard than it was in at the start of the tenancy, or that require cleaning regardless of whether or not this is necessary for the tenant to comply with their normal obligations with regard to the state of the property

 

+ http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/residential-commercial-lettings/95677-deposit-withheld-professional-cleaning.html#post885066

Edited by polus

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