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Landlord counterclaims for the costs of brand new toilet and kitchen units

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Hello! This is my first post, it might be a bit long.

Husband and I, with one child, have lived in a private rented house for the past 6 years. The landlord never done any gas safety checks for at least 4 years and never gave us anything new we asked, for example a new efficent boiler. The kitchen had no ventilation, so the cooking steam had to travel through a conservatory with no windows and the house had some damp problems caused by this and the exterior rotten roof skirting causing mold in the corners of the rooms. Ll seriously neglect the house and would make us pay for things like house alarm after being burgled.

After we left the Ll witheld our full deposit without any fair excuse and saying we caused the mold by not heating the place or opening the windows, that we felt he must be having a laugh as our heating bill was quite high and we love fresh air in the mornings.

Anyway, we are taking him to a small claims court and he decided to get a lawyer who is now counterclaiming for almost £4000 worth of damages for disrepair. He wants us to pay for a brand new kitchen and brand new toilet units, new pipes under sink, wich were still the originals of the house 25 years ago built in.

The Ll lawyer sent us photographs of the damages and they are all close ups of paint flaking, soot from Ll appliances that had no safety checks, close ups of the damp, close ups of rust on the corner of radiator and basically close ups of tear and wear of 6 years of family living! Our favourite photo is a close up photograph of recycling bags outside ready to be collected.

We feel this case is so pathetic but true that is really unfair to the good reputable landlords out there. Any comments and help would be fully appreciated!

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Just an update to say the contract has never had any inventory for this unfurnished house and we took photos ourselves the day we left showing everything was clean and emptied but the walls of course had mould and the Ll was aware of this.

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If you decide to defend, and decide not to negotiate a settlement you need to make a point by point defence of the claims pointing out that there was no inventory and pointing out examples where the claim would put the house into a better state than it would otherwise have been given the age of items.

 

If you were able to show that the work he is claiming for has not actually been done, then that could be helpful.

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Yes I did write my counterclaim defence already point by point, stating that this repairs are actually house improvements and repairs over his years of neglect. He is providing receipts of the redecorating refurbishment some are just estimates given by companies but the law says it should be charges of 'like by like' and the landlord should not not entitled to charge his tenants the full cost for having any part of his property, or any fixture or fitting, ".....put back to the condition it was at the start of the tenancy."

Since we live there for 6 years and the units were so old, how can he charge us for brand new ones?

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The toilet and kitchen were overdue replacement, most neighbours had the same units and already replace theirs. I am taking some neighbours as witnesses.

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The LL's an idiot if he would rather pay a solicitor than return the deposit.

 

If things are as you state, then he has no hope of winning the case and the solicitor must have told him that. Did he write making these claims before you went to court? If not, they will be seen as false, so worry not, just go after what is yours by right.

 

To win with these claims he has to PROVE damage as opposed to wear and tear. For that he would need inventories and photos.

 

Of course, there was no deposit protection scheme 6 years ago and your case highlights why one is necessary.

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Dear Webranger:

 

Than you for your tips. Ll is not paying anyone, he told my husband his 'inlaw' is a solicitor and that he is not afraid of going to court.

 

The photo evidence he is presenting like I said earlier is all close ups of tear and wear from natural forces, no actual photos of the overall state of the house like we took. He went around the house and took pics of things like sealant around the sinks gone black, photos of the inside of toilet ( with a different toilet seat from our photos, interesting), bath tiles grout that became black from water, wall paint pealing, worn oven, rusty pipes, I could go on...

Thank goodness I get on with neighbours so well so they will stick up for us in court!

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Just a little note saying that we also have Ll lawyer letter saying that if we drop the case for the deposit back he would not counterclaim.

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Sounds like this could be the blackmail technique. LL banks on you knowing nothing about your rights or the legal system, not being able to find the information/help needed and that you will be scared of going to Court or paying the costs involved. They then threaten you with all sorts of proceedings, costs, damages, etc thinking that when you receive the letter saying "if only you will drop your claim we will drop ours" you will be so glad to see a way out you will do what they want. There seem to be quite a few organisations that use this technique to bully others.

 

If there really is £4,000 worth of work needed that you are responsible for why would anyone be willing to let it go especially if they have free legal help as your LL says he does.

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Also to point out that he was breaking the law in not having the gas appliances serviced every 12 months - that would not be a good thing to come out in court.

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Also to point out that he was breaking the law in not having the gas appliances serviced every 12 months - that would not be a good thing to come out in court.

 

We are talking about a Ll who has seriously neglect his duties, gas safety inspections, owns over 15 properties, owns an off-license and a gas station to be ironic. Sounds like I presume he has done this to tenants before and he knows what's he is doing.

Some photos he took I cannot make out what they are and could be any property really.

 

We have several written witness statements. Hopefully justice would be done, not only for our family but for the present/future tenants that have the misfortune of having this landlord.

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The reason he gets away with breaking the law is because no-one reports him.

 

Talk to Trading Standards - tell them the story and ask them about where to report this guy.

 

It's not about you just taking him to court, it's about him being prosecuted by authorities and being fined.

 

You've stood up to him this far, going the whole hog gives you nothing to lose.

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Don't let this idiot of a landlord bully you. He doesn't have a leg to stand on.

I think you might benefit from a visit to CAB or Shelter. Shelter have people who have vast experience in these matters and may be able to arrange legal advice.

Firstly, LL cannot claim for new toilet, new kitchen - this is betterment and is not permitted. Since there was no inventory at the beginning, LL cannot prove damage has been done. He will be laughed out of court.

You say you were in the property for 6 years, but don't mention whether you have signed a new tenancy agreement since April 2007. If so, your deposit should have been protected in one of the 3 government-approved schemes.

To be honest, I would simply go ahead with your claim. The fact that he is prepared to "drop his case if you drop yours" proves he knows he is on dodgy ground.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqtenant.htm

Secondly, draft a letter to the local office of the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) - you should be able to find their address easily. Don't write chapter and verse - just tell them that you have recently vacated a property after living there for 6 years and that you have just discovered that gas safety checks and appliance servicing should have been carried out on the gas appliances in the property. Tell them no gas safety checks have been carried out during your tenancy and that you have never been provided with the gas safety check certificate to which you were entitled. You could mention that you believe the boiler "may be dangerous" and that since he has other properties, you are concerned that he may be similarly neglecting his duty of care in his other properties in the way he has neglected yours and putting his tenant's lives in danger.

It is tempting to say send the LL a copy of this and say unless he returns your deposit in 7 days you will post it - but that could be seen as blackmail. I would go ahead with your claim. Try to be concise and factual - make short notes to take with you to small claims - don't get into a slanging match or be too emotional about it. I do not believe LL will actually sue you for £4K - and his lawyer friend obviously knows nothing about tenancy law.

 

Once it is all over, send the letter to the HSE - they take gas safety VERY seriously and he could be fined a substantial sum (£3K I think) and/or jailed!!


Kentish Lass

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

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Does anybody know where in the Law can I find about landlord not being entittled to betterment?

 

The contract was never renwed since 2003 so the deposit is not protected by the new 2007 scheme.

 

Kentish Lass thanks for advice on the HSE, I will follow it.

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Does anybody know where in the Law can I find about landlord not being entittled to betterment?

 

I can't immediately find the relevant bit in one of the housing acts (and anyone who has waded through these will understand) but I have found this:

Sorry - can't work out how to reduce the font here - don't like the new format on this CAG site - it is very difficult to work with.

Page 2 Landlord-Law Article - January 2009 www.landlordlaw.co.uk The three Golden Rules

The no profit rule

The first of these is that landlords are not permitted to profit from a claim. So for example, he cannot claim for the complete cost replacement of a lounge carpet if the original is aged and the damage is only in one small area. Likewise, he cannot claim replacement if the damage can be rectified by applying a more cost-effective method, such as professional cleaning.

Entire replacement cost not allowable

The next rule is that he cannot claim the entire replacement cost, if the item damaged is not brand new. We can all appreciate that when buying a new car, its value depreciates the moment it is driven off the showroom forecourt. In the same way, it is unreasonable to charge a tenant for the full cost of a new dinner service, if only one plate has been damaged and the service itself has been sitting in the kitchen cupboard for five years. Depreciation is a matter I will come to in more depth in a moment.

Evidence required to validate claim

The third rule is that there must be evidence of the item having existed in the first place – and further evidence of the fair cost of any replacement or reinstatement.

The documents usually required by the TDS include a comprehensively drafted inventory, signed by all parties and which clearly identifies the item itself and the condition it was in when supplied; and invoices or professional estimates of the likely cost to repair, reinstate or replace.

 

I think the important thing here is the third item - it is up to the LL to prove that deductions should be made from the deposit and the small claims court will want to see this proof - which of course he does not have.


Kentish Lass

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

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Another thing of concern is that some of this receipts from the Ll house improvements look forfeit. Grand amounts of cash over £1000 paid and no signatures or till receipts.

 

The only gas record certificate that we possess is back from 2003, as we have submitted as evidence. Where are the others Mr Landlord??

 

The grey Units from kitchen and toilet that he claims we have damaged were so outdated that are no longer fabricated and he would have a hard time rent that place if he didn't redecorate them.

 

The fraudulence from this Ll goes beyond words!

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Right we won the court case! Landlord couldn’t prove any damages, just really little problems with wear and tear and some professional cleaning charges. Judge decided he should return half the deposit back to us and court fees.

Counterclaim was dismissed!

Justice has prevailed! Glorious!

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Well Done!

 

I did say above,

" The LL's an idiot if he would rather pay a solicitor than return the deposit.

 

If things are as you state, then he has no hope of winning the case and the solicitor must have told him that."

 

This will bring confidence to others put in this position.

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Hopefully you have also advised H & S about the gas fired appliances not being checked just to add the cherry on top for the LL as you can now give a case reference. Revenge can be sweeter sometimes..

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