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Landlord's receiver not paying for flat repairs


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Hello,

I'm wondering if anyone can help me with a small piece of advice. First, some background info:

My landlord went into receivership in February and the receiver's took over the tenancy (his mortgage was buy-to-let), appointing us a managing agent. We had been in the flat for 3 months, and no inventory was taken or audit of the white goods (the fridge was broken when we moved in, and oven broke a week later).

A week or so after the receivers took over, our washing machine broke. I rang the new managing agent, who confirmed that they would deal with it. After it was repaired, I received an invoice from the maintenance company, with an e-mail attached from the managing agent to them telling them to invoice me as it was my fault the machine broke. The fault was due to a collar stiffener in the propeller. None of the current tenants use these, so the fault could not been ours. I'm told they can lie dormant in a machine for months.

I called (and wrote) to the managing agent with the invoice (keeping a copy), saying we would not pay for the damage as we did not cause it, and they had told me they would cover the work. I also told them that since they commissioned the work, they should pay, and they could then try to recover it from me (which I would dispute). The agent said the receiver would not pay as they are minimizing costs. I complained again and they agreed to pay half the cost (which, to me, seems to weaken their argument of my culpability).

Meanwhile, the maintenance company have started debt collection proceedings against me for the whole bill. I notified them that they were invoicing the wrong person, but they contacted the agent who instructed them to continue chasing me. I received a final demand yesterday and threat of legal action in 7 days.

 

I would appreciate some advice on whether I am legally in the right to refuse to pay for the damage to the flat that I did not cause, so I can be comfortable knowing that if legal action is taken by the maintenance company, I won't lose (and hurt my credit rating). Are the managing agent allowed to make the maintenance company pursue me directly? If we are evicted (which isn't too bad for us in itself), will the managing agent be entitled to take the cost from our deposit?

There is a clause in our tenancy agreement that says 'if a repair is adjudged to be as a result of abuse by the tenant the cost of the said repair may be charged to the tenant'.

 

If anyone is able to help at all, I would appreciate it. I'm concerned about legal action but also indignant that I would have to pay just because my landlord is now a big company. Very many thanks!

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