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Letting Agency Trying to Impose a Large Fee For Cleaning on Exit

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Hi,

 

I've just terminated a rent agreement for a residential property that was under a business let with my own company - was accommodation used whilst contracting away for home. The letting agency are being quite difficult about the cleanliness of the property when I moved out, even though I cleaned extensively and left it in good condition (I've been renting and letting my own property for 15 years and I have never seen anything better, tbh). However, their inspection has revealed some dust and a few other items that could be attended to. They are asking for around £250 for what is, at most, a couple of hours work!?

 

They are also asking for the carpets to be "professionally cleaned" and will not accept that anybody other than a "professional cleaner" is able to do this, even though this is not in the contract. FYI, there are no stains on the carpets and they are in good condition, as described in their own checkout report. Additionally, the carpets are not suitable for using a wet vacuum cleaner and I suspect that the only option is normal vacuuming (which I have already done) and the application of dry cleaning powder of some description. Of course, they have refused to detailed what professional cleaning actually entails and there is nothing about this in my contract. How can I challenge this requirement?

 

I have offered to do the work myself or via a local friend (I do not normally live locally), but they have refused to let anybody other than a professional cleaning company back into the property - they reason that this is because my agreement has now ended. The only alternative they have provided is that I may source a "professional cleaner" of my own instead of using theirs.

 

I'm not aversed to spending some money to put this right, but the amount that has been proposed is absurd for the work that actually needs to be done. I've lived there on my own for a little over 8 months, returning to my main residence every weekend, and basically only using the property for a small amount of the day. Throughout that time I have treated it like my own home and kept it very tidy/clean.

 

I appreciate that there may only be limited options to resolve this dispute - the letting agency has no interest in compromising, despite my efforts to come to a reasonable agreement with them. Would appreciate any input from those with experience as, beyond getting a third party to clean, I am not sure where to go next.

 

Thanks,

 

J

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Are they taking ht emoney out of a deposit or asking you to pay them?


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Surely they must be required to provide a breakdown of the services they intend to charge for.

 

Are you saying there is nothing in the contract regarding the exit clean or that there is nothing about having a breakdown ?


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Hi Sabresheep,

 

More strife, eh? ;)

 

They are taking it out of the deposit, but its worth mentioning that I don't think this is covered under the tennant protection scheme. The rental agreement is in my own ltd companies name, as it was rented for the purposes of my current job.

 

Thanks in advance for your help,

 

J

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Surely they must be required to provide a breakdown of the services they intend to charge for.

 

Are you saying there is nothing in the contract regarding the exit clean or that there is nothing about having a breakdown ?

 

The checkout report lists about 20 snagging items that relate to cleaning and I also pushed for a breakdown of their cleaners quote:

 

Cleaning of Skirting

Cleaning of Window Frames

Cleaning of Door Frames

De-scaling the bathroom and kitchen - most of these items are described as scaled in the original inventory and I don't believe they are worse than when I moved in

Cleaning the oven - not in the checkout report

Cleaning the carpets - not in the checkout report

Mopping any flooring - not in the checkout report

Dusting as required - only windows, door frames and skirting are mentioned in the report

 

Excluding cleaning the carpets, you could prob address the remainder in 1-2 hours and there is no reason why these need to be done by a professional. I've been given an alternative quote for this for about £100 from a different cleaning company, although I could probably chuck a mate £50 and they would be happy to do this for me. They will only let a "professional cleaning company" back onto the premises - giving the usual guff about liability insurance...

 

The contract is basic and simply says:

 

Tennants Obligations:

"To keep the interior of the Property and all fixtures and fittings therein in good condition..."

 

It does not have any specific reference to the checkout report/procedure/requirements. My complaint is that they have sprung this on me after I have made best endeavours to satisfy their vague requirements. They have prejudiced my options, by stipulating now that the snagging can only be remedied by a professional and that the carpets need to be "professionally cleaned", even though there is nothing wrong with them. If they had made this clear before now, I would have worked on Friday instead of taking the day off. instead I feel I am being penalised for being conscientious and have been set up to fail.

 

I think my next step will be to put al this in a letter and fire it off to them. Asking for them to clarify certain points that this hinges on in writing.

 

Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to give.

 

J

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I'm going to send them the following prelim letter today:

 

Dear xxx,

 

Many thanks for transferring the undisputed balance of £xxx into my account. I can confirm that this has now been received.

 

This letter concerns the remaining sum of £240 which I understand you have retained for the purposes of cleaning xxx. It’s my belief that all or part of this sum is an unfair charge and is not reflective of the state of the property, my obligations under the tenancy agreement or your own costs to remedy any discrepancies. I will demonstrate this below with reference to the check-out report but a formal quote with a detailed breakdown of any cleaning costs needs to be provided as a matter of urgency.

 

Prior to considering specific items within the check-out report, I would like to highlight the sections of my tenancy agreement that refer to the deposit, but please could you let me know if there are any other sections in the agreement that relate to this matter:

 

“(1) On the signing hereof the sum of £xxx shall be paid by the Tennant Company to the Landlord as a deposit which sum shall be refundable in whole or in part to the Tennant Company by the Ladnlordupon the determination of this agreement in so far as such sum or part thereof is not required to compensate the Landlord for any breach by the Tennant Company of any obligation of its under the terms of this agreement.”

 

and the upkeep of the property:

“The Tennant Company agrees with the Landlord:
1 (d) To keep the interior of the Property and all fixtures and fittings therein in good condition and complete repair (fair wear and tear only excepted)…”

 

Notice there is no reference to the check-in/out reports or procedures and no guidance in relation to your expectations/requirements is provided. In particular, there is no mention of professional cleaning services for any aspect of the property or its fixtures/fittings. I would also like you to consider the wording and intent of these sections in relation to all the points I have listed below.

 

The check-out report is extensive, comprising a total of 118 separate entries for individual aspects of the property and there are 21 discrepancies relating to the condition of the property. I have numbered these on the attached scan and, where necessary, will refer to them individually below.

 

1. Referring to the page 7 of the independent check-out report, I would draw your attention to the description of the flooring:

 

“All Laminate, Carpet & Tiles in Good Condition”

 

Furthermore, there are no discrepancies listed in the check-out report in relation to the carpeted areas. Every entry indicates that the condition is as supplied or better. This is as expected, since I hoovered all the carpets before vacating the property and there have been no spillages in the 9 months I was resident.

 

It’s my understanding that you require these carpets to be “professionally cleaned” but I cannot see a justification for this. Indeed, the check-out report confirms that I have returned the property with the carpets in “Good Condition” as per my contractual requirement. Additionally, given that the Silas carpets cannot be wet cleaned with a machine, you have been unable to explain what “professionally cleaned” would entail.

 

2. Some of the property’s fixtures and fittings were not in “Good Condition” when I moved in (items ). Most of these are listed in the check-in report, although the condition of the toilet was somehow missed. It was actually badly scaled despite the fact that the house was professionally cleaned by your cleaner beforehand. This was possibly missed because it was being repaired at the time and the inventory clerk did not assess it’s cleanliness.

Given that these were not in Good Condition when I received them, it’s difficult to ascertain whether they are in worse, similar or better condition than before. The photographs supplied with the inventory reports are not sufficiently detailed to determine this.

 

3. Finally, the remaining items (items ) that are listed in the check-out report are for fairly minor discrepancies - dust on skirting boards, architraves, window sills and some touch-up cleaning to the edge of flooring/work surfaces. Whilst addressing these items may improve the presentation of the property, it’s clear that I have made best endeavours to return it in Good Condition and I am not convinced this would be constitute a breach.

In addition, the check-in report lists a number of instances of dust and black marks that were present when I moved in - again, despite the fact that the property was cleaned beforehand.

 

Given the items listed above, it is my determination that the proposed charge for £250 is unfair and I am prepared to take legal action to recover all or part of this sum. I appreciate your suggestion that this could be arbitrated using the Deposit Protection Service but I do not believe this covers Company Lets. Consequently, I would ultimately seek for this to be progressed through small claims court if we are unable to come to a satisfactory agreement. That said, I very much hope we can come to a reasonable resolution without the additional hassle and expense of a legal process.

 

instead, my proposal is that I will pay £60 towards the cleaning, on the basis that this should cover all of the items from section 3 and half of the cost to resolve the items listed in section 2 above. As detailed above, there is nothing in the check-out report and tenancy agreement to justify that “professional carpet cleaning” should be performed at my expense and I will not pay for this. This is a one time offer that will expire within 14 days and does not constitute any admission of liability by myself. You may accept by transferring the remaining £180 into the account detailed below and I will consider this matter closed.

 

If you do not respond, or you do not respond positively, within this time period, I shall send you a letter before action giving you a further 14 days in which to reflect. I believe that these targets are more than sufficient for a company such as yours with dedicated staff. After that, there will be no further communication from me and I shall I shall begin a claim against you for the full amount plus interest, plus my costs, without further notice.

 

Yours Sincerely,

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Looks good to me..

 

The carpet.. do you mean "Sisal" and not Silas :)


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PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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Not sure if the deposit has to be protected if the tenant is a company?

If It is then lodge a dispute with the scheme!

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Yay! After 2 weeks of silence, they've accepted my offer by transferring £180 into my account.

I suspect they looked into this more (or hopefully paid for a solicitor to look into it) and realised this was as good as it would get. ;)

 

Glad to be rid of the lazy bastards - will certainly think twice before I deal with a letting agency again.. I really don't see what they bring to the table, tbh.

 

Thanks very much for all your help! :)

 

J

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I am glad to hear you got your offer accepted & your money refunded, so well done you!

 

 

I am in the Private rental sector & I have many, many years of experiences with various LA. (Letting Agents)

 

I've found that LA can be very hit or miss regarding checking in & checking out procedures/inventories.

 

Some LA use 3rd party agents to do the inventories, others do it themselves. Some are very, very particular indeed & check places you wouldn't have thought off!

 

Such as pulling out any white goods in the house, but I always use my own & store the ones in the property (if any). So they are cleaned before they are put back.

 

Or the time an LA agent checked the wooden venetian blinds & the lampshades for dirt/dust!

 

As I say they can be very particular!

 

So I do what you did, I have a house I'm leaving, cleaned from top to bottom & never have I, had to use professional carpet cleaners.

 

Over the years, I've only ever had one of my deposits deducted for "certain things" which taught me a valuable lesson.

 

Take pictures of the property (Inc Oven, white goods etc & all the rooms) the day you move in & once again after you clean the property & are ready to hand it back!

 

As you can't argue against proof!!


I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every single minute of it!!

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Thanks for the reply. :)

I've been fortunate in that I haven't had to rent since I was a student about 15 years ago. Even then, all of my rented experiences were with private landlords; the majority of which were pretty fair and reasonable. I've also had live in lodgers at my own house for most of this period, so I do have an appreciation of the problems tenants can cause.

 

I actually dealt with several agents in the processof letting this property, as they all seemed to cause problems from the outset and several options fell through. This was partially because of the slightly unusual situation - company let by a recently incorporated ltd. However, I felt like the people I was dealing with were quite honestly braindead and unable to look at the situation objectively, just beacause it didn't fit into their usual process. In addition to incompetence, I suspect this was also because they like to stick rigidly to a process that is proven to make them money for doing very little....

 

The incompetence continued from this point as I then moved into a house that had a broken washing machine; even though it had an extensive 3rd party inventory. There was never an apology for this and it took ages to fix; I had to persist or it would have taken longer.

 

Quite honestly, I don't see what they add to the relationship between landlord and tenant now? They aren't efficient, their impartiality is skewed by their desire to make money from both tenant and landlord, and they add nothing in terms of advertising reach these days. Hopefully, they are a dying breed and I would never use one for my own property unless I really had to.

 

J

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Sadly LA aren't regulated at all, they are mostly in it for the money it brings!!

 

And what a money maker it is!!

 

Thinking about it, It's actually a nice earner for them, for doing the absolute minimum, as you now have;

 

Reference Fees (which here in my part of Essex are from £200 a person).

 

Admin fees/Contract fees (mostly badly photocopied bits of paper).

 

Inventory check in fees.

 

Inventory check out fees.

 

Renewal of Contract fees.

 

Management fees/Call out fees (usually an LA general maintenance person who is great at bodge it & leg it). Especially in my last property!

 

All these fees plus your 1 months Rent & Deposit. The sums involved in moving into a property are significant indeed!

 

I moved into my present home, around 15 months ago, our rent is £1350.00 pcm + deposit £1350.00 & all the LA fees on top, so we paid out well over £3000+ just to get the keys!!

 

It's about time LA were properly regulated & set fees put in place.

 

So that property renting is affordable for everyone!!


I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every single minute of it!!

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