Advice on landlord wanting to retain all my deposit - looking for landlord viewpoints

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    Advice on landlord wanting to retain all my deposit - looking for landlord viewpoints

    Background - I rented a property in England from September 2003 to just before Christmas. So a little over 16 years.

    To answer the standard questions - Sole tenant, the initial fixed term was 12 months, rent due mid-month, deposit was 6 weeks = £937 which I paid in 2003 when the tenancy started. I'm pretty sure that the deposit was put into a proper protection scheme at some point, although I'm not sure which one or when. TA has been updated / re-signed a number of times during that period, together with expected rent increases (quite reasonable, no complaints there. Total was around £135k over that period, always paid in full & on time). Landlord lived in a neighbouring town (not in the property). The property had never been redecorated in that time.

    I hired a professional cleaning company to do the end-tenancy clean after all my stuff was moved out, and the property was inspected by the landlord's husband on the final day, it seemed to go OK overall, I highlighted a few points of wear and tear and some other problems I thought he should be made aware of (I'll go into this in more detail), and he verbally agreed to release the deposit (nothing written down). So I didn't have any concerns at that time.

    7 weeks later, no sign of a deposit, and I recieve an unexpected email.

    Apologies for taking time to get back to you. I hope you are settling in to the new house.

    With regard to xxxxxxxx, we found several areas where the condition was not satisfactory.

    Most window handles were broken, with keys also missing (I pointed this out to you).

    None of the painted walls had been returned to their original condition.

    The floor in the bathroom was badly soaked with urine around the toilet, with the carpet stained and rotting beyond cleaning/repair. This had soaked through the floorboards underneath too, so they have had to be replaced.

    If we were to allow a full cost of making good all of the above, it would run into a great deal more than the deposit held on your behalf. However, you were always a model tenant and we do not want to cause any ill feeling. Therefore, if you can agree to the deposit being released to us, we will happily accept.

    Best regards
    Most window handles were broken, with keys also missing (I pointed this out to you).
    Completely correct in saying that the keys had wandered. I have a pile of unidentified small keys, no idea what they each are, it is very likely that some may be from the window locks. So yes, this is fair. I don't know how to price them up though (depreciation? repair cost? What's a fair value?)

    These were the aluminium handles on the double-glazed windows. I'm not sure how old the double-glazing was, but it was not new when I moved in during 2003 (condensation inside the panes, etc). Two of them had stopped working (the handle worked normally but the window would not stay shut), I think that the mechanism had worn internally, I pointed it out during the inspection. Another had completely broken (snapped, I think due to aluminium fatigue), and I had replaced it. Another had not yet broken but was clearly close to doing so (again, I think due to aluminium fatigue).


    None of the painted walls had been returned to their original condition.
    There was paint damage on one corner where a water leak from the roof had run down through my bedroom, into the floor, and down through the roof of the floor below. I contacted the landlord as soon as we found the leak (midnight!), tried to capture as much of the water as possible before it went into the floor. The landlord arranged the roof to be fixed the next day. I pointed out the paint damage during the inspection.

    There was also paint wear around most light switches, near door handles, and so forth (keep in mind that this was 16 years of wear and tear).

    Does this mean that they expected me to repaint the house? I thought tenants were not supposed to do that due to the risk of getting paint on carpets and suchlike.

    The floor in the bathroom was badly soaked with urine around the toilet, with the carpet stained and rotting beyond cleaning/repair. This had soaked through the floorboards underneath too, so they have had to be replaced.
    The toilet u-bend cracked a while ago, and the landlord replaced it. I asked for the carpet to be replaced (ideally with something less absorbent such as lino!!) at the time, because it was obviously contaminated by sewage, but the message was ignored. I also suspect that the u-bend had been leaking unnoticed for years prior because that area was permanently damp. I'd guess that's why the floorboards were rotten. (Aside - why do people install carpet near a toilet? It's disgusting).

    So there's one item which to my eyes is fair. Possibly balancing this out is work I've had to do on repairs myself ... ? (does this count?)

    * The taps gradually stopped working (some dripping, some unable to be turned), I notified it, there was an obvious DIY attempt at fixing them when I was away but not successfully. After a year I called a plumber to repair them, but the plumber said that they had worn out. So he replaced all the taps in the house, at a cost of £400.

    * The front door lock jammed up, and I had to get a locksmith to open it up. The locksmith said that it was worn out and would fail again (presumably the door lock was the same age as the double-glazing window locks), so I had to get it replaced as an emergency. £475 in total. Obviously I gave the landlord the new keys.

    * The hot water stopped working, I notified the landlord, no action, reminded the landlord, no action, after two and a half years of no hot water the shower also failed. So I got the plumber in again to fix the hot water and replace the shower with a top-of-the-line unit, at £454.

    Not sure how relevant this is but the place didn't have smoke alarms either.




    From a landlord's perspective, what is reasonable / unreasonable ? Thoughts? To be honest I'm pretty upset about the whole thing. I think I need a rational outsider to give their perspective before I reply.

    #2
    I think you are being reasonable.

    I would reply to the LL along the lines of:

    "Thank you for your email.

    As you are aware, I lived in the property for 16 years and therefore wear and tear is expected.

    The windows were not new when I moved in, and I have notified you previously of problems with the locks and handles and you took no action to rectify this. I believe this falls under the LL repair obligations set down in law. 16 years seems longer than I would expect aluminium-framed window handles to last.

    There is no requirement in our agreement for me to return the walls to their original sate of decor, and their current state is commensurate with 16 years of living.

    As you are aware, there was a leak of which I notified you <date> and although you arranged the repair, you did not replace the carpet that was soaked and soiled by the leak and did not investigate the damage caused to the floor at that time. It is my belief that the damage to the floor was caused by that leak.

    As you are also aware, I have repaired and replaced at my cost the following faulty items that fall under the LL repairing obligation:
    • Taps for <list locations>. £X/
    • Front door lock that was worn beyond repair, plus cost of locksmith when it failed. £Y
    • Hot water (which I remind you you failed to address in over two years despite you being legally responsible to do so) and replacement shower. £Z
    In light of the above, I look forward to receiving the return of my deposit in full within the next 10 days.

    Please also advise where the deposit is protected."

    If deposit not returned to you, then counter LL claim to deposit protection scheme with the information you have provided in your post.

    Comment


      #3
      Expecting your deposit to be returned in full is unreasonable unless you engage deposit ADR and informed LL of changes you made, in advance.

      Comment


        #4
        Hey, the thread came back. I think it got edited too much/by new member to moderation while I was typing my reply after it was originally posted.

        What is reasonable deduction after 16 years from non-new condition at that?

        Zero to maybe a few pounds for replacement keys for internal only windows lock that still work, to net negative after you counter sue for disrepair during the tenancy.
        I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

        I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by MdeB View Post
          If deposit not returned to you, then counter LL claim to deposit protection scheme with the information you have provided in your post.
          I wouldn't be suprised if the deposit wasn't protected given its age. LL of such deposits (assuming there's been no renewals) only need to protect it if they want to serve s21.
          I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

          I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

          Comment


            #6
            Many thanks for everyone's responses :-)

            Originally posted by KTC View Post

            I wouldn't be suprised if the deposit wasn't protected given its age. LL of such deposits (assuming there's been no renewals) only need to protect it if they want to serve s21.
            Yeah, I was thinking this myself, since the tenancy predated the legislation, but the landlord asked me to ask the agency to release the deposit to them yesterday. Hence I think there is some sort of escrow in place (the most obvious being a deposit protection scheme). I imagine that it was set up on one of the tenancy agreement renewals (I was probably notified at the time, but my memory isn't very good at the best of times, and I probably thought it was unimportant at the time, just red tape ...).

            Comment


              #7
              I agree with MdeB.
              The property should be returned in a state equal to the original condition plus 16 years normal wear and tear.

              After 16 years, the property is giong to need to be completely recarpetted and decorated as a matter of course, so all of that cost is not claimable for a start.
              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 KTC View Post
                Hey, the thread came back. I think it got edited too much/by new member to moderation while I was typing my reply after it was originally posted.
                .
                Aha, thank you, I was wondering why it got locked. My habit is to submit a draft post and then keep editing it until the post is complete. So if the forum software sees repeated, rapid, edits as a spam risk, that would explain it.

                Thanks to mods for unlocking, and thank you for posting your very useful reply again. And finally, thanks to everyone in the thread for feedback, I've been super stressed about this (hardly any sleep for days), and this all really helps.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by failing_to_cope View Post
                  I imagine that it was set up on one of the tenancy agreement renewals
                  What renewals, when was the these / most recent renewals? Any of them within the last 6 years?
                  I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

                  I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by KTC View Post

                    I wouldn't be suprised if the deposit wasn't protected given its age. LL of such deposits (assuming there's been no renewals) only need to protect it if they want to serve s21.
                    Original post included:

                    Originally posted by failing_to_cope View Post
                    I'm pretty sure that the deposit was put into a proper protection scheme at some point, although I'm not sure which one or when. TA has been updated / re-signed a number of times during that period

                    Comment


                      #11
                      As a follow-up, I put my case, including all the suggestions above, and it was accepted. Deposit returned in full. Thank you all again. Finally I can sleep

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Great news, well done and thanks for letting us 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


                          #13
                          Originally posted by jpkeates View Post
                          The property should be returned in a state equal to the original condition plus 16 years normal wear and tear.
                          See this thread: https://forums.landlordzone.co.uk/fo...ng-obligations

                          Comment

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