Landlord Deposit Return

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    Landlord Deposit Return

    Hello, would be grateful for some advice if you have the time.

    We rented a three bed property for just over three years until 20/11/17 this year. Kept the place well (as well as we could for a busy working family with a small child) and reported any issues. We have persistent problems with the shower and also with small things going wrong that we reported fairly promptly (such as handles, curtain rails coming loose).
    Various inspections throughout the tenancy didn't throw anything up other than the fact the carpet was stained in places downstairs. On check out we agreed to pay £120 for professional cleaning of the carpets and have kept the receipt. The Kitchen Vinyl also had a small hole where our Fridge had a jagged underside, and we agreed to look into remedial work for this too.
    My wife was 6 months pregnant on check out so I did majority of moving and cleaning. I tried my best in the time available to me and the property looked in a reasonably clean condition when I left, although truth be told it wasn't to the same state as when we moved in and wasn't a deep clean by any stretch. I didn't have time to get too far into kitchen cupboards, for example, or get rid of some mould developing in showers or sinks.
    Anyway, the check out report highlights three or four things. but all things considered, it isn't a 'bad' check out report by any stretch, according to the letting agent acting on the landlords behalf. There are some recommendations such as the oven and property could do with an extra clean, a couple of missing lightbulbs, etc. I haven't yet seen a copy of or agreed to the check out report.
    I spoke with the Vacate team at the Estate Agent the day after they received the report, who informed me of all this.
    I heard nothing more for the time being when the following week - perhaps within ten days of the tenancy ending - the agent emails me to say the landlord wishes to discuss some 'issues'. He has now had the chance to visit himself and feels that we have 'damaged' the kitchen tops (In truth, they were discoloured from when we first moved in, and perhaps had some staining on them - although we think surely some aspect of fair wear and teat must come into this). He says some blinds were missing that I explained I thought were in the garage, and wishes to replace the vinyl floor, amongst some other things. Further discussion over the coming days reveal that he is, apparently, reasonable, and wishes only to pursue the cost or a contribution for the the cost of the Vinyl. We are willng to cooperate with this process and 'assist' the agent by providing them with details of local tradesmen who may be able to offer quotes. The agent is apparently having trouble pinning down tradesmen in identifying quotes in the run up to Christmas
    Time goes by and we are approaching a month, so I get back in contact with the letting agent and it seems the landlord is dragging his heals a little, or the agent being somewhat inept.. I admit to expressing a bit of annoyance that the issue hasn't been sorted sooner and express this over email and phone. I feel the landlord is dragging his heels and sitting on nearly £1k of our money, potentially holding this over the Christmas period. I rang TDS for some advice, who agree that it seems the landlord and agent are dragging heals somewhat, especially as the point in question (the kitchen vinyl) may cost as little as £45 to lay and very little to replace (we are only responsible for like for like and it was an old and not very expensive piece of vinyl, next to worthless)
    The manager of the vacate office seems disinterested, saying it shouldn't go to TDS as in this context, 'the landlord will try to get as much as he can get'.
    I send an ultimatum of sorts to the agent/landlord via email, saying I would like to resolved by the middle of next week, or suggest TDS become involved.
    Perhaps to be expected, this seems to have prompted the landlord into stinging us with a series of other costs towards other aspects of the vacate report. The agent emails yesterday evening to say he has given up waiting for quotes and wishes to charge us £100 contribution for additional clean; £80 for Kitchen Vinyl job; £60 for our toddler drawing on his kitchen door and £100 for sorting our the 'damage' to the kitchen work top!
    I guess lesson learnt for me in terms of not poking the bear! Either that or I had a right to try to push things on, and he is now being unreasonable?
    MY immediate thoughts are that this is excessive charges and potentially unreasonable from him as well, and am prepared to write back to the agent/landlord along these lines. The tenancy agreement doesn't stipulate we must professional clean the property in readiness for his next tenants, but 'must clean or pay to clean' the property at the end. Having already had a go myself, in order to complete the job would take no longer than 2-3 hours tops at an fair hourly rate (say, £15?). The Vinyl as explained earlier we could get cheaper and perhaps he also needs to instruct the clean to have a proper go at the Kitchen worktops before charging us £100 for whatever he plans to do to remedy them. I am sure that the paint required to paint over a 2 year olds doodling and the handyman to do it would come to far less than £60.
    However, can I have people's view before I jump back into action??
    Thanks in advance.

    #2
    I come across people like you all the time. Pregnant wife and toddler do not mean the landlord has accept dirt and damage. Was there an inventory in place that you agreed to when you moved in? If so then you have something to go back to. I do pay cleaners £15 per hour - and they are good because they do it all the time - you don't obviously neither does your Mrs or we would not be here now.

    Without seeing the kitchen worktops and the quality of the vinyl -( just remember someone has to go get it and fit it and just what did your kid draw on the door with) it is hard to accurately comment? Recently I had a 12 year old get some sort of irridescent pink marker pen on a upvc window frame and that will not come off. £60 for the door re-paint is not unreasonable - both sides, materials, get someone there, rub it down and clean up.

    Why not make the landlord an offer of slightly lower to end all this banter and hopefully get some money back for Christmas? If not just pay up and take more care next time.



    Freedom at the point of zero............

    Comment


      #3
      Do you have it in writing that the landlord only wished to pursue the cost of the vinyl and nothing else? Depending on the wording of that, that would be important evidence for any dispute.

      That said, what is most important is the exact wording in your tenancy agreement regarding cleaning. Together with the pictures and comments in your check in report. You have to reinstate the property to the same condition as when you checked in, save for fair wear and tear. So marks on a door would obviously be a cost, as would damaged worktop and damaged vinyl.

      Hopefully you've read on this forum about how the dispute service tends to work. If the landlord thinks there's say £100 of damage to rectify, most landlords will claim for £200-300, with the full expectation that the claim will be scaled down by the adjudicator. This is perhaps what has happened here, with the landlord having to detail every single thing, knowing they will get perhaps of the money they are asking for.

      So as Interlaken says, make them an offer, put a timescale attached to it, and you may get your money back before Xmas. Or go to a dispute and you're looking at 3 months maybe.

      Comment


        #4
        Ask a local established cleaner for a rough quote to clean a 3 bedroom house that you think is "reasonably clean" already, plus an uncleaned oven. And to have a proper go at cleaning the worktop, mouldy shower and sinks. And see if they can find the blinds in the garage and fit them again.

        All to be done before Christmas.

        Tell them you think a couple of hours at £15 an hour seems about right for menial labour.

        Comment


          #5
          Dear All, Interlaken's warm welcome aside, those are useful responses, thank you.
          However, I think though there is some truth on the sense that it is probably the case we will go back in with an offer and hopefully be done with it before Xmas.
          In terms of cleaning, the wording on the tenancy doesn't say we must go via professional cleaning at the finish only that we should 'clean or pay for cleaning' which I guess could mean hiring a cleaner at an appropriate hourly rate to complete the job. When I say, reasonably clean, I mean on entering and viewing it looks clean, but when looked in more detail you can note that despite my attempts to clean the oven there was grease and marks that refused to come out; that despite me cleaning the sink with the best product I could find there was still some mould I couldn't get off, etc, etc, so it is more like completing the deeper, trickier aspects to restore it to it's state pre- moving in.
          Anyway, I have contacted the agent who will return the non-disputed proportion of the deposit and will hold the £340 for negotiation and possible arbritration. Then I'll get some estimates this week and refer to tenancy agreement and the check in / check out report before making a counter offer if appropriate. I don't really care how long it takes really or if it runs through Christmas; if LL needs to put extra work in to gather evidence to prove the deductions then that is fine. We try to be reasonable though and the sooner it is resolved the better for all concerned.

          Comment


            #6
            Try HG spray from Homebase and other sheds to get rid of mould - surely that was not there when you moved in?
            I wasn't meaning to be harsh but the trained eye of the professional cleaner, landlord and inverntory taker is superior to the average tenant trying to blag it.



            Freedom at the point of zero............

            Comment


              #7
              Other than anything specifically agreed in the tenancy agreement, the landlord is entitled to compensation for any loss in value of their property that occurs during the lease that is beyond fair wear and tear.

              That compensation will almost never be the cost of putting right or replacing something, simply because there has to be some allowance for fair wear and tear on most things. Some wear and tear is likely even if the tenancy is short - and it's unusual for a tenant to move into a property where everything is brand new.

              Even if an item is damaged, there has to be some allowance for the use of the item that has already been "enjoyed", the loss in value of a damaged three (plus)-year old worktop is less than the loss in value of a brand new worktop and the landlord's claim has to represent that.

              And the claim is based on the original cost, not the replacement cost (although inflation hasn't been the issue recently it used to be).

              Landlords who make inflated claims assuming that they'll be pegged back by the adjudicator are actually attempting a fraud, in the same way as a tenant who lies about not causing an issue.

              The reason that "fair wear and tear" is excluded from any claim is that the cost of normal wear and tear of the tenant living in a property is assumed to be part of the rent - so the landlord has already received that money. It's up to the landlord to budget properly and not treat all of the rent they receive as income. Otherwise, they're trying to have their cake and eat it.
              When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
              Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

              Comment


                #8
                As na ex T you no longer have the Right to enter the Property to effect remedial repairs nor require LL to engage a Contractor of your choice.
                He can choose whom ever he wishes at prof rate (+ VAT).
                It would be for ADR or Court to compare move in/out reports and decide if the claim was justified.
                How much money is 'in dispute'?

                Comment

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