What evidence is needed for a condensation related deposit claim

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    What evidence is needed for a condensation related deposit claim

    Hi

    Just wondering if someone could offer any constructive advice, or maybe been in a similar situation regarding the following. Sorry for the long post but I want to be thorough.

    I live abroad and use a letting agent to fully manage a property. The current tenants moved in almost a year ago, after my having spent £3000 redecorating throughout and lightly refurbishing the property.

    My letting agent, who is an easy going, decent guy, finds the tenants very difficult. He claims he spends more time on these tenants than any other. The first thing they complained about on moving in was that the property needed to be fully redecorated(!), along with a list of 30 other repairs they felt needed doing.They break the patio doors, and then complain that there should be 3 hinges on the door not 2, and therefore want another hinge putting on. As much as I want to be a good landlord and provide a nice home for my tenants, their demands are becoming endless and tiring. I do when I can, accommodate most requests from them, such as for example, them changing their rent due dates to make it easier for them. These are the first ever tenants I have had whereby the letting agent has suggested eviction even though they pay the rent and, by and large, look after the property lol! They obviously dislike the property so much, I am just hoping they leave when their contract ends in May, but as they have 6 cats, my letting agent tells me he doesn’t think they would ever find anywhere else to rent. What annoys him the most is the fact that when he calls on them to explain why some repairs they request are not necessary, they are pleasant and in full agreement, then he will arrive back at the office to find the ‘most disrespectful and insulting of emails’ from them as he refers to it, demanding the repair get done.

    Anyhow their latest complaint is condensation. The property has a piv fitted, which I was told was one of the best things you could install to assist with condensation. It also has trickle vents on the windows . Again my letting agent chats over the phone to them and visits the property to take a look. He confirms it’s condensation then advises them of the usual lifestyle actions they need to take, and he reports back to me that all is well and they are happy. He then gets notification that the tenants have reported the damp to the local council who will be paying a visit. The tenants are also unpleasantly demanding we get a damp report from a ‘damp specialist’, so we get a local company to go in and do a report. We told the tenants if the damp is down to them, then we will take the cost of the report from their deposit. The council see the damp report and are happy enough with the property and we tell them we will install additional vent bricks. The tenants were also given a copy of the report but have never responded to it. This was February.

    However I was really disappointed with the report. It’s amateur but that’s ok, but it starts off by saying the first issue is damp, but not at the stage that would concern the damp company, and treatment would wait until in between lettings, and is something just to monitor for now.....I’m not really sure what just damp means....rising, penetrating?

    Second issue was condensation and, a black mould, due to condensation. That’s all it says.

    The report notes the trickle vents at the property, but states with modern living these simply are not enough, and suggests installing a piv, but appreciates there is one already at the property that is clearly producing an airflow. The property is a dormer bungalow, and they have a concern about the positioning of the piv, as it’s situated in a small space due to the dormer room, and in their opinion not positioned correctly but notes there is no other option given the space.

    Apart from of course, buying 3x passive vapour vents from them at a cost of £204 each.

    They also claim the kitchen extractor fan is not working effectively as it should and the current filter should be renewed.

    So I asked my letting agent to confirm what the company mean by the first issue of just damp, and if he could put something in the report about condensation being a lifestyle problem, for the purposes of evidence for the claim from the deposit.

    My letting agent said he kept emailing the owner for clarity, but didn’t get a response until the owner starts chasing for his payment. My letting agent responds saying we have no problem paying the invoice if he could just clarify that the mould is down to the tenants usage, and the reason we ask for this is because the tenants have been very aggressive demanding the report and that we were seeking to claim some of the report cost from the deposit, and his report forms that evidence. My letting agent even suggest an additional sentence to the owner of ‘the mould at the property is caused by the tenants activity’, given that this is what the owner stated was the problem when they spoke previously over the phone. Anyhow the contractor requests I contact him so the very same day. I email apologising for the delay in payment and saying more or less the same, that the cause of the condensation has to be spelled out to the deposit scheme, and it would be great if he could add that to the report. He never replied back. Now a month later, after neither myself or the letting agent hearing anything back, the owner is threatening legal action, saying I only got in touch with him because the letting agent chased me, and that he cannot say the mould is down to the tenants as if the piv and kitchen fan were working properly there would be no mould. He added that him saying it was down to the tenant would be negligent and against his professional judgement.

    Surely this is bunkum! Despite contradicting himself when he spoke verbally to my letting agent, the above statement would suggest the ‘not fully functioning piv‘ is the cause of the condensation, as opposed to the occupants not ventilating enough.

    My letting agent has given me a formal letter saying the owner verbally stated all condensation mould is down to the occupants, if I needed it for use in the claim.

    Sorry for the endlessly long post and ramble, but in your experience what would the deposit scheme accept as proof the tenants are responsible for the condensation, or is the fact it is condensation enough?

    Thanks for any advice.

    #2
    You paid (or it seems haven't paid) the contractor to do an independent survey and report his findings using his professional judgement.

    He has done that and so you need to pay him.

    You cannot dictate what he should write in his report - it would not be independent if he just wrote whatever you wanted.

    Comment


      #3
      I'd say that the report undermines any claim you would try to make for loss from condensation.
      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
        Biggest mistake was to commission a report because you cannot control the contents.

        The relationship between you and the tenant has broken down, a s21 is probably the best option. Allowing 6 cats is absolutely ridiculous and it sounds as though this property and tenant have not been managed properly from the start.

        The report makes it pretty much impossible to succeed in a deposit claim.

        Comment


          #5
          I would say that the extractor fan filter replacement is up to the tenant.

          Are they drying their clothes on the radiators or on a maiden? If they don't have a condenser dryer they more than likely are.

          Are they in all day? With the tenants and the cats breathing out and sweating 24/7 there's bound to be a lot of water in the air.

          Do the cats have litter trays in the house? All that cat wee will be evaporating into the air.

          Even with trickle vents (are they left open?) etc. there's possibly a lot of water in the house's atmosphere.

          I would supply the tenants with some spray bleach and ask them to clear any sign of mould immediately, and advise them to air the house every day by opening the windows to allow a change of air.

          It seems the damp report doesn't say you are responsible for the damp so I'd pay the man and deduct the cost from the deposit.

          It sounds like you've done everything you can for these people. It might be time to write to them saying you're sorry the property is unsuitable for them and would they like to move to a property better suited to their needs. You could reference some from an online website. I've done this in the past and it seems to have made the tenants rethink their situation. I've had enough of demanding and entitled tenants. Enclose a tenant's 'Notice to Quit' with the date of the month at the end of a rental period already filled in , but not the month or year. And a Section 21 if you've really had enough.

          Comment


            #6
            so get the fans serviced/cleaned, dust not only blocks the filters reducing airflow but it covers the sensors and makes it harder for them to detect excess humidity.



            Originally posted by Berlingogirl View Post
            I would say that the extractor fan filter replacement is up to the tenant.
            i would say it isnt. LL should have someone come in and service/clean them.

            Comment


              #7
              I also agree that you cannot tell an independent report writer what should go in the report - if he said something verbally to you which he refuses to put in the report then wait for him to sue you for payment and take it to the judge.

              Why on earth did you / agent pass that report to tenants given your dissatisfaction with its contents?

              You could also get another independent surveyor to inspect BUT ask for a sample copy of what his reports contain ie how in-depth are they.

              Also agree you should change tenants - but change the agent too if he failed to keep you updated on the request for a house full of cats etc.

              Comment


                #8
                In my experience damp specialists are bigger crooks than second hand car salesman. He wants a job out of it so he's going to find something that needs doing. If it's from water ingress it's upto you to fix it, condensation is their responsibility. I agree with the above, S21 for the tenants and sack the agent. Tenant's expectations need to be managed so refuse anything that isn't necessary. It depends how much aggro you want but it seems to me the report isn't up to the professional standard you would expect so I personally wouldn't pay.

                Comment

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