Landlord deducting for betterment after deciding to sell

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    Landlord deducting for betterment after deciding to sell

    Hi guys,

    My landlord has decided to sell his property after discovering he will be subject to tax charges on rent (He lives in the US). Our tenancy ends at the end of Feb and he would like to sell prior to April 1st. As a result, the flat has been subject to wear and tear/betterment work during our final tenancy days.

    Part of this work included a contractor coming by to varnish the kitchen worktop. The wooden worktop had a few scratches and marks prior to our move which was recorded on the inventory. After the contractor completed the varnishing we were told not to use it for approx. 24 hours, which was fine. A few days later, while cooking I placed a warm-hot tray on the work counter which caused what appeared to be the varnish to bubble and peel slightly. I immediately contacted the landlord with pictures of the marks. He invited the contractor back a few days later to take a look. Upon arriving home that evening, the worktop had this time been oiled and the landlord had advised that £400 would be taken from my deposit to cover the expense.

    Before agreeing the charge, there were a few things that I wanted to confirm that may affect the charge against the deposit:

    1. Prior to the varnishing work, over the past 11 months of the tenancy, at times warm-hot pans have been placed on the worktop. Although this can be considered as bad practice while working in the kitchen, it never damaged or devalued the worktop in any way. Pictures taken of the peeling show that there is no damage to the worktop underneath. Only that the heat has caused the layer of varnish to come off.

    2. Overhearing a conversation between the contractor and landlord, £400 was the grand total amount charged for the work carried out on the contractors first visit. This would be in regards to varnishing the main worktop, other parts of the kitchen and carrying out maintenance work on the kitchen cupboards. Would this not suggest I am being charged the price of all kitchen work rather than the reoil of the main worktop?

    3. After gaining quotes from other local and non-local contractors, they advised they would be able to complete the job for much less based on images of the damage and the measurements of the worktop.

    4. Contractors also mentioned that as the worktop is wooden it would need to be oiled and not varnished due to the fact that varnish is relatively brittle, is easily scratched and not resistant to heat.

    5. In pictures sent to the landlord you can see that where the varnish has begun to peel, there is no damage to the wood of the worktop itself. Also there is a big difference in quality between the varnish (1st job) and the oiling (2nd job) of the worktop.

    6. The property inventory shows that the worktop had scratches and slight damage upon moving in. Should restoring of the worktop not have been carried out prior to our move in?

    Throughout the tenancy we have had a good relationship with the landlord, and his partner who owns the property. We have always gone out of our way to convenience them as much as possible while taking good care of the flat. However, I feel that £400 is a steep amount for a cosmetic job such as this.

    Any support on the above would be much appreciated,

    Thanks in advance.

    #2
    If you remain at end of fixed term then tenancy continues as a periodic one, landlord can't prevent this.

    So email landlord informing of your plans to continue occupation until, say, November 2020. He might then wish to to "encourage you - ££££" to leave early. Were it me I'd want £5k+

    That a landlord is selling does not end a tenancy nor compel you to leave.
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

    Comment


      #3
      There are some elements to this that are a little odd.

      When you say that the tenancy will "end" at the end of February, how has that been achieved? Have you given notice?

      When you say that the landlord has found out that the rent will be subject to tax charges, how have you been paying the rent so far?

      But to the issue...
      The landlord is probably entitled to some compensation if you damaged something that required repair, but in this case, putting a hot tray on a worktop doesn't sound like it should cause any damage. It sounds like the job was just badly done / incomplete. You oil wooden workstops, you don't varnish them.

      If the landlord plans to take the money from the deposit, they can only do that when the tenancy has ended, and you would be able to dispute the deduction (provided you haven't agreed to it) and the landlord could accept that or you could refer the issue to an arbitration service available wherever the deposit is protected.
      That tends to delay the return of the deposit for several months, but does mean that you don't fall out with your landlord until after you have ended being his tenant.

      The landlord is only entitled to compensation for their loss, so they'd better be able to show that the cost of the additional repair was what they're claiming.
      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


        #4
        If you can't come to reasonable agreement, then dispute it with the (free) deposit ADR.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by theartfullodger View Post

          So email landlord informing of your plans to continue occupation until, say, November 2020. He might then wish to to "encourage you - ££££" to leave early. Were it me I'd want £5k+

          That a landlord is selling does not end a tenancy nor compel you to leave.
          Nor does it justify childish empty threats.

          Comment


            #6
            Or landlords encouraging tenants to sh*ft their landlord.

            Comment


              #7
              Hi jpkeates,

              Thank you for the quick response, my last response was marked as spam for some strange reason, so i'm just re sending in case you didn't receive it.

              Just to clarify, our tenancy agreement is due to end on March 1st. In mid January of this year, we were notified by the landlord that he had decided to sell the property due to tax changes occurring in April 2020. He said that the tax changes wouldn't be beneficial to him as a landlord living outside of the UK, and that he was selling. We were asked the month prior if we wanted to remain in the property for another year, so this obviously came as a surprise to us. So to summarise, we are moving out based on the fact that the landlord would like to sell at the end of our tenancy. Hope this makes sense?

              I definitely agree that putting a hot tray on a worktop shouldn't have caused any damage. I even asked the contractor (on his first visit) the type of varnish he was using, and he mentioned that it was a water-based varnish. He came by this morning to apply a final coat after oiling the worktop 2 days ago, and showed me the oil that he was using which I think confirms this theory.

              I am yet to receive any receipts/invoices outlining or breaking down the £400 cost. We have agreed to have a call to discuss the issue. Is the landlord entitle to some kind of compensation, even if not the full £400? Or am I right in saying that the work was done incorrectly, while providing any details and images I have supporting this.

              Thanks again.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by patrin01 View Post
                my last response was marked as spam for some strange reason, so i'm just re sending in case you didn't receive it.
                It's an annoying "feature" of the forum that if you edit a post a number of times it gets marked as spam.
                It'll probably show up tomorrow!

                Just to clarify, our tenancy agreement is due to end on March 1st. In mid January of this year, we were notified by the landlord that he had decided to sell the property due to tax changes occurring in April 2020. He said that the tax changes wouldn't be beneficial to him as a landlord living outside of the UK, and that he was selling. We were asked the month prior if we wanted to remain in the property for another year, so this obviously came as a surprise to us. So to summarise, we are moving out based on the fact that the landlord would like to sell at the end of our tenancy. Hope this makes sense?
                If the tax change your landlord is talking about is the only one I can think of, they're most likely wasting their time.
                There are changes to capital gains tax allowances that take effect from the start of the 2020/21 tax year.
                They only affect the landlord if they used to live in the property you're renting.

                If you leave at the start of March, they'll have about seven weeks to sell the property and exchange contracts, and that's almost impossible. The routine searches that a purchaser would have to do would take longer than that!
                If they plan on marketing it while you're living there, any purchaser would be taking a risk that you wouldn't move out (and they still won't have much time).
                I have managed to complete a property sale in two months, but I still don't know how we did it.

                And you'd have to agree to people viewing the property while living there (although it's possible you have already agreed that in your tenancy agreement).

                It's possible that the landlord doesn't appreciate how different the US and UK law is in this area. The tenancy won't just end. If you move out on or before the tenancy end date, the tenancy will probably just end (it depends on the wording of the tenancy agreement), but the landlord should be serving notice or encouraging you to.
                If you don't leave the property on or before the tenancy end date, the tenancy will either continue or a new periodic tenancy will start automatically.

                The landlord's notice should be a minimum of two months and in writing - unless you're happy to accept less notice.
                It also should be in a specific format.

                I am yet to receive any receipts/invoices outlining or breaking down the £400 cost. We have agreed to have a call to discuss the issue. Is the landlord entitle to some kind of compensation, even if not the full £400? Or am I right in saying that the work was done incorrectly, while providing any details and images I have supporting this.
                The landlord basically can't deduct anything from your deposit without your agreement (or by going to arbitration with your agreement and winning), so the evidence that they supply really has to make you feel confident that their claim is valid.

                My basic point was that the landlord is in a bit of an odd situation. They're trying simultaneously to get you to agree to leave your home before you expected to and claim £400 for some repairs (which, just on the face of it, I don't think you're responsible for).
                I'm not saying that the landlord is a crook or doing much wrong, it's just an odd set of things to try and do at the same time.

                I'm sure there's a perfectly sensible outcome to this, but the landlord isn't in the strongest of positions.
                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


                  #9
                  Get 2 EA's to value the Property and ask the owner if he will sell it to you for a10% discount, assuming you can get a mortgage.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    From what you have written, it appears that either
                    1. The LL instructed the contractor to apply an inappropriate finish to the work top, or
                    2. The contractor chose to apply an inappropriate finish to the worktop.
                    In either case that is not your fault.

                    You then used the worktop in what appears to be an appropriate way, and I would assume is a way that you had previously used the worktop without causing damage.

                    The fact that this caused damage alerted the landlord to the inappropriate finish that had been applied and the LL arranged for the contractor to apply an appropriate finish (had the finish been considered appropriate, then that finish would have been reapplied).

                    It is my opinion that you are not liable for any of the costs, and should defend this on the basis of the work done was not suitable for the use to which the worktop would be put.


                    As an aside, I think that the LL has a cheek to ask or expect you to be inconvenienced by allowing work to be done in your home from which you gain no no benefit and LL benefits greatly.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      So I did exactly the above, spoke with the landlord outlining all the details and evidence stated in my first post. He has come back advising that he has spoken to the contractor who has explained that he DID use oil on the first visit and not varnish. I know for a fact this is incorrect as he told me he used varnish on his first round and I saw and smelt the varnish for myself.

                      They have also sent recordings of their conversation with the contractor around the work that has been carried out.

                      Am I best off raising a case with DPS who are holding our deposit?

                      Thanks

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by patrin01 View Post
                        Am I best off raising a case with DPS who are holding our deposit?
                        Yes - but you can't do that until the tenancy ends and the landlord proposes to make the deduction.

                        I still don't understand why the landlord is in such a rush to sell the place, there's still almost no chance of exchanging before 5th April to avoid any tax changes.
                        And if you become less co-operative about viewings, almost becomes no.
                        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


                          #13
                          Originally posted by patrin01 View Post
                          He has come back advising that he has spoken to the contractor who has explained that he DID use oil on the first visit and not varnish.

                          Am I best off raising a case with DPS who are holding our deposit?
                          In your position I would
                          1. Advise the LL that in the light of his response I am no longer willing to allow access to my home for any work or any viewings.
                          2. Dispute any deduction for the worktop with the deposit protection scheme.

                          Comment

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