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We've just recently moved out of a house that we let for 4.5 years, and the LL is trying to keep a big portion of our deposit for what I consider to be unfair reasons. When we moved in, the house had been recently refurbed, new carpets, curtains, kitchen, etc. (new, but all of a cheap quality, i.e wickes flatpack kitchen, 2.99 sqm carpet upstairs w/out underlay, etc) Also the house is from the 60's, so although the paint was new, it was done sloppily and just over any old damage. You get the picture.

 

We had the carpets cleaned, filled and painted over any holes in the walls, and thoroughly cleaned the house. Prior to vacating, I emailed the letting agents about specifically what we needed to do in order to recoup our deposit. (we are expats so maybe things aren't the same as back home) They wrote back stating "clean the carpets, and leave it clean and tidy". At no time was there mention of professional cleaning or dry cleaning of the (cheap) curtains. Our original check-in was also only a general casual one, done by a guy at the estate agents, as opposed to an independent inventory clerk. Of course at check out, they DID have an IIC, who naturally found all sorts of things at fault, as is their job I suppose.

In the end, amongst other things, they wanted £240 to clean the curtains, and £300 to professionally clean the house. I'll admit that after 4 years, there probably were some marks on the curtains, and while I scrubbed my hardest, was unable to completely remove the baked-on spots from the inside of the oven. From 18 years of renting in the US and Germany, we felt that we left the house in a state any normal person would regard as "clean and tidy".

 

The letting agents keep harping on about how because everything was new, we have to bring it all back to the same condition. They also wrote that being new means being professionally cleaned. I wrote back that that was their definition, nowhere does it state on our inventory or letting agreement that anything must be professionally cleaned. It just seems like they haven't taken any account of fair wear and tear, especially considering we (husband, myself, and 2 kids) lived there for 4 years.

 

One other thing, I had taken down some blinds from the kitchen window and stored them in the garage. They claim that they were broken (they weren't) and want £50. They were very obviously not custom blinds, more like something off the shelf from b&q, which new wouldn't even cost £50, even accounting for the fact that the LL can't charge to replace it with new anyway.

 

Sorry this is so long. We are totally frustrated with this whole thing, and feel they are really taking the mickey charging us right and left for as much as possible.

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They are seriously ripping you off. You say you rented for 4.5 years - was your tenancy renewed during that period? If you signed a new AST after April 2007 they were legally required to protect your deposit in one of the 3 government-approved schemes. They may have had an inventory clerk do the check out, but without a proper check-in inventory - signed and agreed by you - they have wasted their time. Write to them firmly stating that their demands are ridiculous. You are expected to return the property in a similar condition to that at the beginning of the tenancy APART FROM FAIR WEAR AND TEAR - and after 4.5 years that is what you have done. Refute all their claims item by item - clearly and firmly and tell them you require the return of your deposit (less possibly a token amount) by a certain date or you will sue them through the small claims court.

 

Of course, if you did sign an agreement after April 2007, you can also threaten to sue them for deposit + 3xdeposit for not protecting it.


Kentish Lass

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

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Hi there, thanks for the response. When we moved in, there was a check in report done, which I signed- but it wasn't a detailed independent one. Basically for each room it notes 3 or 4 things, curtain colour/clean, walls painted/colour, carpet colour/clean, etc. The IIC marked all sorts of things off like the skirting boards needed wiping (which I totally refute, seeing as I'd spent the better part of a week cleaning the house!), there were some cobwebs I'd missed, the oven wasn't sparkling clean, she noted that practically every window needed cleaning (though I'd cleaned them all- this is a house from the 60s as are the windows, there will be some remaining ingrained dirt!) scuff marks on base of some doors, etc etc.

The house, while recently refurbed, wasn't cleaned to the standard they are expecting us to leave it in. Is it even reasonably possible to leave a house as sparkling clean as it was when you moved in? I'd think that would be where fair wear and tear came in- like the scuffs to the doors and the oven having some baked on marks. We lived there for God's sake! It doesn't say anywhere that we were expected to have a professional clean. We own 2 houses in the US and would never require this sort of asinine level of cleanliness from our tenants, and those houses are newer and the interiors are of a much higher quality!

If we legitimately broke something, then yes we'd definitely pay for it. We even went around the house with a decorator friend and filled in and painted over all the holes in the walls. We also had him repaint the entire kitchen and downstairs bath! We had the carpets cleaned, as per the letting agents advice, but never would've thought we'd have to get those cheap curtains drycleaned! I'd actually be interested to see if it would've just been cheaper to replace the lot!

The letting agent has come back now with threats to add to our dilapidations list if we choose to go to court. Can the even do this once they've submitted their list in writing to us?

As for our deposit, no we never renewed, and as it was around the time this new deposit scheme came into effect, I suspect that was why they weren't keen on renewing.

Is it reasonable that they charge us the price of thoroughly cleaning the whole house? Obviously as I'd already cleaned it, I can't imagine they actually had a lot to do, other than just redoing what was done. As I've said, I've rented out many houses/apartments over the years, some brand new at the start, some not, and have never been expected to do a professional clean, aside from the carpet.

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