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Hi All,

I recently moved house and my previous landlord is attempting to take most of my deposit.

 

There were a two issues brought up during my tenancy that I admit are my fault and will owe compensation towards:

1) The bath room tiles did develop some stubborn mould in places.

2) The kitchen table at the premises (the only piece of furniture not owned by myself) has been damaged on its legs by my cat’s claws.

 

But after an independent inventory inspection on the day I left the inspector told me there was nothing much to worry about, the table had existing chips and damage to it before I moved in and even though my cats have damaged it further, there was no photographic proof of the state of the legs before I moved in - only the slight chipped tabletop and that I should only pay £70-£80 towards repair.

 

Prior to this, at his request I bought the landlord a new table after being asked to with only the specification of a suitable replacement wood table between £100 and £200 and after searching for and purchasing a more than suitable table, I get a demand to view said table on the day of its delivery and it was rejected as it was not an exact match (which I was never told to find) and blew £100+ on a table I don't need.

This shows my willingness to make amends for the extra damage I admit has been caused to the table since I moved in, but I realise now I was stupid even considering to buy a NEW table when my cats only caused extra damage, the existing table was damaged BEFORE we even moved in and the inventory even specifies this.

But now he wants £453 from my £500:

£10 Clean cat hairs off lounge blind

£10 Clean faint grubby markings off kitchen blind

£5 Clean two sticky tab marks

£25 to replace 5 light bulbs.

£60 Tile grout discoloured (action taken: Refinish grout)

£110 Bathroom Tile grout discoloured (action taken: Rake out joints, refinish grout + reseal)

£38 - 3” of heating oil on a 250 gallon tank = 16 Gallons = 76 litres at 0.5p litre (not mentioned on inventory report or told to leave any in there)

£195 Table damage

I emailed the Agent and Landlord explaining what I agreed with, and mostly, what I did not as follows:

I will not be paying the £38 for 3" of oil as the day I moved in I tried to use the heating and was told by the Landlords mother that I was not allowed to use it until I had ordered some more oil and so I turned the heating off. At no time was I told there was any amount in the tank on my arrival, nor was I told at any time I had to leave a certain amount, and there is no mentioned in my copy of the report from the inspector that there is any discrepancy, if I'd have known I would have left some. I was not allowed to use any oil when I moved in, and I left none as I moved out.

5 Light bulbs do not cost £25 - even taking in to account screwing them in. I will pay £10 for these and that's still including a small fee for "labour".

I completely refuse to pay that much for the table to be repaired for the reasons given above.

I asked to receive proof of the final cost of the work carried out on the tiles as I believe £170 is pushing it for the damage the inspector described to me as minimal.

I said I believed £270 is a fair and honest price and is the maximum I am prepared to pay given the information I have been presented with. Bearing in mind that if the kitchen and bathroom tile work isn't as expensive as listed above when I am presented with the proof I expect this to be even less or I shall be taking action.

My landlord responded with the following:

The cost represents a tiler for one day plus materials. I have carried out the work myself and my rates are much higher. However, to keep in line with industry rates I have used the lower rate of a tiler, and have not included a management fee.

The work could have been carried out by the tenant to minimise his costs, but he chose to leave it to me. I have also lost revenue whilst the work has been carried out, and this is not reflected in my costs, so I believe that I have been very generous.

The boiler was in fact used for 3-4 weeks before any further supplies were delivered. However, AA inventories reported the level of oil as part of their initial property review, and the reported level should be reflected on departure from the property. AA inventories did not report against the level in their last report but was confirmed as approx 3".

As above I have used the actual cost of the oil to replenish that used. I have not charged a management fee to replenish the oil on behalf of the tenant.

Note: (The heating was not in use – I half froze to death wearing gloves and hats indoors for the first month until I got paid)

The tenant had the opportunity to replace bulbs and chose not to. In addition to the purchase price of the bulbs the cost includes travel and time to purchase. The tenant will find that he too will incur similar costs for the same.

On arrival the table was almost perfect with only a small amount of marks showing to the top face. The table top has further marking to its top face and extensive damaged to its legs caused by cats sharpening their claws. This is reported in the AA inventories report.

My last inspection of some months prior to the tenant leaving identified the table damage and it was agreed that he should find a suitable replacement of the same size, style, quality, and finish. The table is a very good quality Victorian pine unit and an estimate of replacement cost was agreed at approx £200. At no time was he under pressure to purchase anything quickly. A very similar unit is for sale in Claire antiques centre for £235.

The table Mr Sawyers chose as a replacement was not the same size, style, quality, or finish. He chose not to take my advice regarding its suitability prior to purchase, and my mother inspected the table in addition to my inspection via a mobile phone photograph. The proposed replacement, once discussed, was agreed to be unsuitable, and its rejection was completely avoidable by the tenant.

The cost listed is for repair of the existing table to minimise costs to the tenant. The cost represents 1 days labour and materials for a tradesman. I have not included a management fee to organise its repair.

Please refer to the AA inventories report. The table was in near perfect condition, and my repair costs are very reasonable and reflect today's tradesman rates.

The house including the kitchen was left spotless by the outgoing previous tenant. The same cannot be said of any part of now.

The tenant chose to leave the property in a condition requiring considerable effort and cost to recover its condition. The option to avoid cost was entirely his, and he chose to leave the premises in a sub standard condition, requiring costs to be incurred on his part.

The costs identified are extremely reasonable, fair, and justified. They could have been far higher and I am extremely disappointed by his threatening attitude, when he alone is to blame for the costs.

I do not agree that £270 is a fair price, and will not accept the tenants offer.

As above my costs are extremely fair and reasonable, I hope that the tenant recognises the fact and settles without delay. If we cannot reach agreement by Friday 29th October I will withdraw my current offer, and seek to recover my full costs through legal channels.

 

I sincerely hope that we do not have to resort to a legal resolution to this dispute, and that common sense will prevail on the tenant’s part.

Any advice guys, the inventory inspector said nothing to worry about, the place was clean and the guy even said the kitchen was left “cleaner than when we moved in”. Yes I am to blame for the extra table leg damage but I can’t help but feel he is taking me for a ride asking for £195 on appox £235 table? If that was the case why offer to leave the table in for me when he knew I had cats and took the place unfurnished. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Chris.

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Hi sequenci, Thanks!

 

I moved in August 2009, and yes it is protected within a tenancy deposit scheme. The agent we are sending our emails through holds the deposit. And speak of the devil, she has just emailed me asking for a response to my landlord’s position by Friday or they will distribute the money out as originally planned.

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A friend at work just told me fom personal experience that my landlord has shot himself in the foot undertaking the work himself without presenting me a quote at all. Especially when I've asked for proof in my previous emails. I take it this would work in my favor if this goes to court?

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A friend at work just told me fom personal experience that my landlord has shot himself in the foot undertaking the work himself without presenting me a quote at all. Especially when I've asked for proof in my previous emails. I take it this would work in my favor if this goes to court?

 

If the deposit is protected you should state that you would like to use the tenancy deposit dispute service. This means that an independent third-party will consider the situation and award the monies accordingly.

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Ok thanks, I plan to go over my deposit scheme details tonight and put together an email informing the agent not to distribute my money out as the landlord wishes as I've seen no proof of costs at all and I would like to use the tenancy deposit dispute service.

 

I can't help but feel I should just take him to court, the LL's demands are obscene and have not been backed up with proof. He hasn't given an inch during my attempts to negotiate and has reffered to me as naive and insists he is being the generous one. However I value your advice and will try this avenue first if you believe it best.

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I can't help but feel I should just take him to court, the LL's demands are obscene and have not been backed up with proof. He hasn't given an inch during my attempts to negotiate and has reffered to me as naive and insists he is being the generous one. However I value your advice and will try this avenue first if you believe it best.

 

The court will expect you to try all avenues to negotiate prior to legal action, this is what the dispute service is for. I've helped others use it, they've found it pretty reasonable!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi All,

 

Since my last post I have aquired the forms for the dispute service online and prepared my case. The agent finally emailed me a response stating she had been ill and couldn't reply, and that she was meeting with the landlord within the next few days to discuss the matter. I stated I had my paperwork ready, but will hold fire until she's spoke to him face to face.

 

Just received the following email from her:

I can confirm that I met with the landlord in the office this morning concerning the issues with regards to the deposit.

 

Firstly please find attached the quotes with regards to the damage to the kitchen table and also the quote for refurbishment of the tiled areas in the bathroom and kitchen which you requested. As you can see from the quotes the works done on the bathroom/kitchen are a lot more than the landlord had quoted to you on the spreadsheet that I sent to you. The quote that the landlord obtained did cost £35.00. I do have a copy e-mail that you sent to the landlord stating that the cats had done a lot of damage to the legs and you stated that you would fix or replace this table when your time at the house had ended. A replacement table was offered - but it needed to be like for like.

 

With regards to the light bulbs - these could have been bought by you and replaced by you prior to vacating the property.

 

I gather that all the taps at the property were also badly lime scaled when you vacated the property.

 

With regards to the oil issue, when you moved into the property it clearly states that there was 3" in the tank on the check in report and on the check out report it clearly states EMPTY. I gather that also during the tenancy you left the tank run dry causing an issue to the boiler.

 

I can confirm that the landlord has stated that unless you are prepared to accept the figure of £453 which was on the spreadsheet then he is also prepared to take matters further.

 

If you wish to discuss the above matters or wish to meet in the office to go through the issues please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

I look forward to hearing from you with regards to the above issues and hope this matter can be resolved as quickly as possible.

Prior to this, all I've said to them recently is that I wish to use the dispute service to settle this fairly, and that I must insist they pay me the part of the deposit not in dispute asap. And they fight back again!

 

I have been presented with 2 quotes, both poorly scanned in copies - one for the tiling, and one for the table repair. Am I to assume the landlord contacted numerous vendors before selecting the best option? Or did he only get one in for each? Its very strange that the invoice for the tiles is dated the 15th October when I've asked for quotes for all the work since the start of this dispute and was told the landlord had conducted the work himself. Strangely the table repair quote is dated the 15th November (3 days ago) and yet the landlord demanded £195 since day 1. Again he has previously claimed he's carried out the work himself and last time the value of said work was backed up by the price of a “similar table in an antiques shop” and now this? I bet he isn't even going to repair the table and pocket my money.

 

The quotes are (followed by the landlords original reply 5 weeks ago):

 

Bathroom + Kitchen Tiles: £326.50 – Labour: 2.5 days @ £125 and £14 materials.

£170 - The cost represents a tiler for one day plus materials. I have carried out the work myself and my rates are much higher. However, to keep in line with industry rates I have used the lower rate of a tiler, and have not included a management fee”.

 

Table Repair: £250.00 - £400.00 by an antique furniture restorer.

£195 - The cost represents 1 days labour and materials for a tradesman. I have not included a management fee to organise it's repair. A very similar unit is for sale in Claire antiques centre for £235”.

 

One final point, IF the landlord had these quotes before demanding money off me, how come he claims £170 represents a tilers day rate plus materials when on the invoice he has sent it states 2.5 days @ £125 plus and materials = £14.

I plan to respond by email and start the dispute service process. I've summed up my stance on the above email, below in a draft of what shall be my final response. I plan on sending this and starting the process once I've run it by you guys:

The 'new' information regarding taps etc. is of no concern to me as this is the first I have heard about it and nothing is listed on the inventory so if the landlord could please refrain from adding anything else not listed as it comes across as an attempt to justify the overall cost. Also, the reason given for the extortionate price of light bulbs does not justify such a high price for them, and the point I raised regarding the price of the table being taken from an antiques shop is ridiculous.

If the oil is stated as that amount that is what I will pay, I have only mentioned that I was not informed of this at any time and simply asked for some proof, and my copy of the report doesn't mention it. This is why this should be referred to the dispute server as I'm being honest and just want a fair outcome.

 

Regarding the email about the table damage. I have never claimed that my cats did not add further damage to the table, I've admitted this throughout. Those emails were exchanged after the landlord inspected the property while I was living there, this was my first rented property, and when he informed me I owed him a new table (and insisted this could not come out of the deposit on my departure) I assumed that is what I
had
to do, and in an attempt to keep a healthy relationship with him I did what I stated and the table was rejected.

However, whether it was rejected or not isn't the case here, I found out since those emails that he had no grounds to demand a replacement table and what he attempted to do, and continues to, is classed as 'Betterment'. I explained this in my last email and again, the law on this matter seems to be getting overlooked. Likewise, the production of quotes for the work only just being submitted to me 5 weeks after the landlord stated (in an email that we both have copies of) that he had carried out the work himself and his rates are much higher. These quotes had to be presented to me prior to using my money for repairs, and b
y the vendor who was to be used.

 

After studying the quotes sent through, it concerns me greatly that the tile quote is dated the 2nd of October yet the landlord responded to my request of receiving quotes on the 15th October stating he had already carried out the work himself and the prices (and the reasoning behind them) given do not match the quote I've been sent in anyway. Also the table quote is dated 3 days ago? Yet he claims to have carried out the work himself over 5 weeks ago, and has been demanding £195 since day one?

As before, I'm not
asking to refer this to the dispute service, I am simply informing you that is what I intent to do.

Also, I will ask again that you please transfer the £97 that is not in dispute, as this is my money and should have been transferred back to me over a month ago.

Any input/advice?

Thanks.

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