Long tenancy, minor points on c/out, LL witholding deposit

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    Long tenancy, minor points on c/out, LL witholding deposit

    I've been renting for years in a few properties all over and I have never had any disputes over my deposits ever. We're good tenants. I've just moved and this LL is going to make vexatious claims against my deposit. I have Agent on my side. Their inspection report was glowing apart from a couple of minor points. I think the LL is going to try and go to town on me (I'm not sure why, I think he's just not very nice - he section 21'd me for instance with no explanation....) I have never had to seek advice before.

    On checkout the landlord sent his representative (family member, he's overseas) who basically tried to intimidate us and tell us how disgusting we were and how we hadn't looked after the place. She tried to influence the Inventory Clerk by trying to get him in private (he was great, told her to do one). And we ended up having a row. She also intimated to us in anger that this may have been a retaliatory eviction (although not entirely provable) Anyway, check this out below - HELP!

    Tenancy length - 4 years
    2 ocuupants
    3 bed / 1.5 bath

    Issues on c/out report that we agree with -
    slight carbon build up on oven door glass
    slight blackening of sealant on bath (I do note here from The AIIC guidelines would lead me to check the length of tenancy: Bath sealants will also discolour and blacken. Depending on the length of the tenancy this will be a wear and tear issue and for any tenancy longer than one year it is considered to be the landlord’s responsibility to renew bath sealant periodically... If bath sealant and grouting is blackened after tenancies of less than one year then this usually indicates tenant neglect – unless the property suffers from a provable history of excessive damp/mould)

    Things I think the LL will take me to task over the above and even though the c/out report said all was fine, taking fair wear and tear and length of occupancy into account, and everything being domestically clean and tidy, he's made his intentions clear that "he'll let the agent know if we own him anymore than the deposit...." LOL

    Can he get me on these things?:
    1. I changed two lampshades (don't know what happened to his, they were not new on move in I don't think, cheap little things you can pick up for £8 or so I reckon, I've left 2 others anyway but not the same)
    2. I made good the holes I made by hanging things. Polyfilla'd them and they look Ok. Apart from 3 holes - I put a wall plug up and screw for a mirror, I didn't want to force it out as I didn't want to break the plaster and make a huge hole. The other 2 were together for an ornamental thing and I filled the holes but didn't have time to sand.
    3. The carpet was noted on c/in in one of the bedrooms that it was old, stained, had furniture dents on it and had marks so I guess it's value is very low anyway. It was frayed on the door strip and my hoover caught it and pulled the thread, it is noticeable.
    4. One window at front had bad damp and it damaged his curtains that were up, I didn't change them and I didn't really notice until it was too late.
    5. There was a weird orange mark behind the sofa, maybe a very old spillage. I couldnt really get it off.
    6. There was a tiny (I mean tiny) bit of darkening of the grout in the shower shampoo holder recess bit (the bathrooms were otherwise spotless)

    And finally, if he can get me, what can he take off me for the above?

    Thank you.

    #2
    Be wary of thinking that the agent is on your side.
    They work for the landlord and should always put the landlord's interest first.

    The landlord isn't entitled to deduct anything from your deposits that you don't agree to (including fees). The problem is that to get your money back if you don't agree, you may have to both sue them via the small claims court (which you can do online.)

    Your landlord is entitled to compensation for any loss in value of their asset(s) beyond fair wear and tear for which you are responsible.

    For something missing or damaged beyond repair, the formula that they should use, and a court (and the protecting company ADR process) will almost certainly use is:
    (Cost of the original item and any installation/fitting [not the cost of a replacement] / expected lifetime) * (expected lifetime - actual lifetime).
    That is, compensation for the lost value (life of use) of the item.

    For damage, this would normally be the cost of putting it right. But some similar adjustment has to be made for the age and condition of what's being repaired.

    If a repair is a more cost effective solution than a replacement (or vice versa), the cheaper option has to be taken.

    Fair wear and tear is “reasonable use of the premises by the tenant and the ordinary operation of natural forces”.

    A landlord is 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.” It's not "new for old".

    After 4 years, the oven glass and bath sealant are going to need cleaning anyway. So there shouldn't be any particular cost associated with that. Worst case a nominal amount, which would be part of the cost of a complete clean.

    1. If you replaced the lampshades unless it's spoiled a matching set, there's no loss to compensate the landlord for.
    2. That's probably damage and the landlords loss would depend on how long it was since the wall was last decorated. If it's more than 5 or 6 years, again it would probably need redoing anyway after a 4 year tenancy.
    3. Same thing with the carpet. Carpets have a lifespan that is relevant to their quality and traffc.
    4. As the landlord would have to fix the damp, I'd be tempted to stick to the line that you didn't notice it and it's their responsibility. I think that, in fact, it is probably damage that you're responsible for, and again, the loss isn't the cost of a replacement its the loss of usable life.
    5. That's damage you are responsible for.
    6. I'd say, again, that's fair wear and tear.

    I'd also suggest that getting your landlord to agree to this approach is extremely unlikely.
    When they make a claim, be ready to dispute it via the deposit protection company.
    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


      #3
      Thank you JP, that's a super helpful reply. I'm just trying to armour myself with as much knowledge as possible ahead of the inevitable battle.

      To be fair, the agent who is part of a national group is on the receiving end of some pretty unpleasant and rude conduct from the LL too so my contact is most certainly not looking out for him. They sent him an email on checkout saying our opinion is they owe you nothing and their position hasn't changed. But, I will use my instinct on this and trust no one!

      There hasn't been a tap of work done on the house until very recently when things started breaking (radiators, outside lights, things like that....think this is why I am getting chucked out, don't know). I got the S21 out of the blue.

      By your reply I guess it could look like this:
      Agent advised their cleaning charges would be no more than about £30.00 by their terms so an arbitrator could attribute this for the oven door and bath potentially? How likely is that though?
      Stain - would it be partial cost to cover this part as it does require a lick of paint? - if you say it's not new for old, I don't need to pay for a full paint job?
      Holes - the walls haven't been painted in at least 4 years and are notwithstanding my holes in good nick more or less - Would I be responsible for part payment of the cost of painting as you say they don't get new for old when I move out, the don't get the full cost of a full room paint job?!
      The carpet looks like it's really old, and it's reaching the end of it's lifespan. It certainly wasn't new when we moved in.

      One last question - if the LL disputes say £100, do I get the rest back and go to arbitration for the rest, or is it all locked up until we reach an agreement?

      Thank you so much

      Comment


        #4
        One thing I didn't respond to was the landlord's representative.
        Just so you're aware, you have no obligation to discuss anything with the landlord's representative.
        They already have an agent, and the only other person who has any business with you is the landlord, anyone else has as much relevance as any other member of the public.

        If the agent believes that the cleaning for the door and batch would be about £30, it will be difficult for the landlord to claim any more. The agent speaks for the landlord (as part of their role as the landlord's agent).
        £30 would seem fair to me.

        Stains on walls are difficult, it's not usually possible to simply paint part of a wall without it looking nasty. Particularly if the rest of the paint is old. But the stain isn't about the repainting cost, it's about the previous painting job that you've (for the sake of argument) ruined.
        My argument would be something along the lines of, the room probably cost £400 to decorate (I'm making that up, I have no idea how big the room is) - to get a value the agent or landlord will probably have to use the price now and assume that the cost hasn't gone up in the intervening period, unless they have a detailed invoice or estimate (and who does?).
        So £400 was the cost four years ago, so one wall is £100, and it should have lasted 6 years before needing doing again and it's only lasted 4.
        So £100/6*2 is what you've caused the landlord to lose. Or £33.
        The landlord could argue the whole room needs painting to match the colours probably, but they'd lose that in adjudication - cosmetic issues are hard to win.

        Same process with the carpet, say it was £400 six years ago, if it's a main doorway, it would probably only be expected to last that long anyway, so there's no loss.
        The landlord is almost certainly going to start from the basis that they're going to have to replace the whole carpet and it'll cost £x, here's the quote/invoice and you'll have to point out that it's the previous carpet that comprises their loss, and it had already lasted as long as it ever would. If a hoover damages a carpet it's probably at death's door already. It's not like hoovering is an exceptional thing to happen to carpet.

        The problem, as you have highlighted is that the landlord won't return the non-disputed amount while any dispute is sorted out.
        In some cases, that's not possible and, if the landlord actually has possession of the funds, even if the adjudicating scheme tells them to return the rest of the money, they can't compel them to.
        And a deposit dispute under adjudication can take months - the adjudication backlog is several months last time I heard.
        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


          #5
          Amazing JP thank you, that's a massive help and a bit of a weight off. The agent did tell me on the phone that the views of the "representative" were worth nothing and will not be taken into consideration by anyone in the process. I just wanted to paint what these people are like.

          I have a sneaking suspicion that the LL won't agree to arbitration anyway as it's unlikely he'll be awarded anything more than what we've discussed above. Therefore, I think there is a few possible outcomes - he messed me around because he can and pays up at the last minute; we do go to arbitration and he wins a whole £60.00 for his trouble; or he ignores mean and forces me to go to County Court which he hopes I won't be inclined to do (he'd be wrong of course).

          Many thanks for you kind support, it's be a huge help.

          Comment


            #6
            Just dispute everything with the deposit scheme and ask for ADR. The landlord will get peanuts.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by SPW View Post
              Many thanks for you kind support, it's be a huge help.
              Glad to help.

              Have a look at the protecting company web site, and their processes.
              I've never used one as a tenant and it may be that you can claim the undisputed process.

              If the landlord refuses ADR they'll a)have to explain why in court because courts take a view on people who turn down a free 3rd party service in favour of going to court and b)they'll be explaining it in person, because getting a solicitor involved in a small claims case isn't simple (or a particularly good idea) and they can't be represented by anyone else.
              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
                Originally posted by SPW View Post
                Bath sealants will also discolour and blacken. Depending on the length of the tenancy this will be a wear and tear issue and for any tenancy longer than one year it is considered to be the landlord’s responsibility to renew bath sealant periodically... If bath sealant and grouting is blackened after tenancies of less than one year then this usually indicates tenant neglect – unless the property suffers from a provable history of excessive damp/mould)
                Personally, I would disagree with this.

                If they blacken, then that indicates black mould that the T has failed to take action against (e.g. improper ventilation; no action against the mould before it was extensive). i.e. the T has failed to act in a tenant-like manner.
                Discolouration suggests mould that was left untreated in its early stages and was only tackled once staining had penetrated the silicone.


                Originally posted by SPW View Post
                I made good the holes I made by hanging things. Polyfilla'd them and they look Ok. Apart from 3 holes - I put a wall plug up and screw for a mirror, I didn't want to force it out as I didn't want to break the plaster and make a huge hole. The other 2 were together for an ornamental thing and I filled the holes but didn't have time to sand.
                I would prefer that Ts only drill and plug holes (minimises damage) and leave them unfilled when they depart (avoids future tenant trying to make a hole close by and weakening the wall or making a big hole).

                I would expect to re-paint walls on next change of tenant after three years

                Originally posted by SPW View Post
                The carpet was noted on c/in in one of the bedrooms that it was old, stained, had furniture dents on it and had marks so I guess it's value is very low anyway. It was frayed on the door strip and my hoover caught it and pulled the thread, it is noticeable.
                I would expect to replace carpet in a let property after 5 years (on next change of tenants).

                Originally posted by SPW View Post
                There was a weird orange mark behind the sofa, maybe a very old spillage. I couldnt really get it off.
                Was it there when you moved in?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks for the reply and for offering another perspective. I expect to have some feedback from LL on Tuesday. I'll repost here and update you. Let's hope he shares some of your perspective and fairness re: carpet, painting and holes....doubt it.
                  ​​
                  PS: I don't reckon the stain on wall was there, I only noticed it on the walk round with clerk. Oops.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Updates on my problem regarding LL retaining deposit. He has indicated he will go to arbitration over 3 points:

                    Quick reminder, we've been there 4 years and house was generally in good order when we handed it back. New bathrooms and oven on check-in back in 2015.
                    1. Cleanliness- it was clean and tidy, it most definitely wasn't dirty, I can't see his logic here. The images on inventory show it clean and tidy. If he's going to zoom in a corner of skirting that's got a spec of dust on it I can prove it wasn't clean and was dusty as hell when we moved in.
                    2. The marked bath sealant - it wasn't horrendous, just needs a very small section redoing if we're going for perfection.
                    3. And a new one, the oven - he reckons the oven is damaged as there's some (very little) carbon build up around the door seal. Surely this happens with ovens? The inventory clerk checked this, took a picture and said it was fine. It's almost certainly not damaged in a way that a normal person / tenant would comment and it most certainly hasn't been on fire!? It's still perfectly usable although of course it's not in factory perfect condition.

                    The LL is again saying things like this was brand new 4 years ago, which seems irrelevant to me - as someone said here "he doesn't get like for like".

                    I am really worried now, as I thought this would blow over but it appears not.
                    • This guy isn't an amateur, he knows what he's doing, so surely he's only going to waste time and effort on these minor points if he thinks he'll win surely?
                    • Is it good he's going to accept arbitration? Does that mean he doesn't want me to pursue them through small claims?
                    • What are my chances of winning this arbitration?
                    • If he does win how much can he expect to get from me?
                    • He also said he's going to instruct a solicitor to manage this arbitration - is this normal?

                    Someone please put my mind at ease - if that's possible!

                    Thanks

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Just make your points to the arbitrator.

                      The landlord isn't going to get anything like what they claim unless they make adjustments, new for old will be reduced by the arbitrator.
                      Yes, it's good that he's going for arbitration.
                      You'll probably end up paying very little.
                      Not sure exactly.
                      It's not normal and would be entirely pointless.

                      I don't think he's as experienced as you think, or is massively bluffing.
                      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


                        #12
                        The deposit protection service is there to ensure the process is fair to both sides - it is not something that should be feared. Many people on both sides of these disputes try to avoid anything that smacks of 'legal' and one party can use that to intimidate the other side into unfair charges or losses. The service is designed to ensure one party cannot take advantage of the other and no-one should be afraid to use it in order to ensure a fair result.

                        As a landlord if I need to charge a tenant from the deposit I lay out very clearly how I got to the figure quoted - eg. carpet ruined & needs replacing: cost £400 new, age 5 years, expected life 10 years therefore charge £200. If charges are laid out in a way that can be clearly calculated it is hard to dispute them.

                        In your particular case, if there are any areas where you think a charge is fair then make the LL an offer explaining what you think is an appropriate charge, if you don't believe you are responsible for anything other than fair wear & tear then do not be intimidated & make the LL prove to the deposit service that you owe him money. It does sound like the LL needs to do some maintenance & is trying to finance some of this at your expense. Fair wear & tear is the key here - the oven was new but is 4 years old now & therefore cannot be expected to be in new condition, on the other hand it should be clean.

                        If you believe you are right then use the dispute resolution service - what have you got to lose?

                        Comment


                          #13
                          @jpkeates Thank you for your help again. I am sorry to post so many questions, I want to get this right first time.

                          My agent has said to hold off raising the dispute until she's got more info (tomorrow), but a colleague has advised just steam ahead with it - what would you recommend? Why would they ask me to wait until tomorrow?

                          Advice I have from a colleague is to submit the dispute, along with the c/out inventory report, and this document only, say "property returned in a reasonable condition as per report, any and all issues raised are wear and tear. I would like to request the full return of the deposit" and that's it? Would you recommend this approach?

                          Looking closer at the cooker image I have, it looks like the oven design does not have a seal all the way around, it has a 3" gap at the top, not sure if this is normal or not. I imagine it is to vent the oven when operating. It's hear, just above this vent that there's some wear and tear in terms of marking / damage to the paintwork on the oven outer casing where the door meets the inner frame. It is not a visible area when the door is closed. It can't be that bad if the clerk didn't mention it? It was never operated at very high temperatures outside of parameters and there was never a situation where I was in a panic thinking it was going to melt or I reduced my dinner to a lump of coal!?) Surely that damage can't be my fault?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Waiting a day won't have any effect, the arbitration service has a backlog of several months.

                            I'd guess the agent is trying to make the landlord see sense, so it might be better to delay.

                            I'd personally start the communication with the service as proposed. I would also make the point that none of the claims has been adjusted for wear and tear/existing use. And then address each one you dispute.

                            You only normally get one chance, so make sure you also include the landlord's claim to you (in case they change their mind and try and claim more in case the arbitration goes against them).

                            And make your offer for the things that are damaged/missing. Ask for the non-disputed part of the deposit back (you never know!)
                            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


                              #15
                              I am going to wait to see what the LL comes back with, what money he wants and why. He's got until Friday officially given the 10 day rule. I can start my claim on the back of this.

                              Should I expect amounts and quotes from suppliers at this point in order for him to justify this?

                              Even if arbitration rules in his favour and I've worked this out using TDS guidelines, he's in for about less than £150 (not counting for labour). Would I have to account for labour to say install a new oven (not happening, but hypothetically), or an hours labour for a handyman to replace sealant?

                              I wonder if someone has any idea me why he's doing this? Seriously, looking here and at other sources, he's getting peanuts if he wins at all as all in we've been good tenants and the points given some of the things LLs must see, this is small beer!? What's the point, is this a common LL strategy?!

                              Comment

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