Deposit taken for mould - help

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    Deposit taken for mould - help

    Hi
    I wonder if someone can give me some advice on a problem I have with my previous landlady.

    I’ll give you some background

    My girlfriend and I moved into the privately owned flat on 4 April 2007 (2 days before the deposit scheme started).
    In September when the cold weather started, we found that there was a huge mould problem in the built-in bedroom cupboards which has an outside wall attached to it. The walls were wet to the touch and when we moved the clothes out there was black mould covering the walls and even going up the side of the window frame. This damaged a lot of our clothes and stained the walls. We informed the landlady straight away of the problem and they came back to us saying that it was a lifestyle problem and said that it was basically our fault for not “ventilating” the flat daily.
    Their advice to us was to open the windows for twenty minutes a day, which we followed through with from when they told us until we moved out. We also had an Environmental Health Officer to come and inspect the flat and he told us that there was inadequate ventilation throughout the flat, he noted that even though there are vents in the top of the windows that were constantly open throughout the duration of our tenancy, these were deemed inadequate ventilation for the size of the flat.
    The landlady came back to us and told us that they were going employ a company to come and fit a ventilation system in January, which never happened.
    We cleaned off the mould and from that day until the day we moved out and had to store our clothes on the floor of the bedroom. The mould came back quite a few times even though there were no clothes in the cupboard and we cleaned it off every single time, we were left to deal with this problem for 5 months without the landlady sorting anything out.

    We moved out on 4th April 2008 and received most of our deposit back but were charged £95 for building work as they said that the window frame had to be taken out and plastering had to be done. This was all done without our consent to use the deposit. ( can they do this???)

    She also took £25 for “light cleaning” but the flat was cleaner when I moved out than when I moved in!!!

    I am thinking of taking the landlady to small claims court for the £95 as I do not think that I should have to pay for something that the landlady was informed about 5 months previous but did nothing about. I know its not a lot of money but it is more the principle.

    Do you think that I would have a case?

    Any help or advice would be great.

    #2
    It is condensation mould.

    For mould there has to be moisture - and although human bodies emit moisture, it mostly comes from cooking or bathing/showering.

    If the owner has successively let the property without this problem, then they can justifiably argue that it is your fault for showering without closing the bathroom door, or cooking with the kitchen door open, or something else.

    Can you be sure that it was not your usage that was the cause? If so, then if you take court action you will need to demonstrate on the balance of probabilities that this is so to the judge.

    Answer the above and this will decide your view on chasing the £95.
    On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Because of the number of posts I have done, I am now a Senior Member. However, read anything I write with the above in mind.

    Comment


      #3
      This is a potential design fault of the building and not something over which a tenant can exercise much control. I think you should pursue your action against your landlady.
      The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

      Comment


        #4
        Good luck. I really dislike landlords like your ex one.
        ****************************************

        If you are unsure about what to do seek professional Legal advice.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Esio Trot View Post
          It is condensation mould.

          For mould there has to be moisture - and although human bodies emit moisture, it mostly comes from cooking or bathing/showering.

          If the owner has successively let the property without this problem, then they can justifiably argue that it is your fault for showering without closing the bathroom door, or cooking with the kitchen door open, or something else.

          Can you be sure that it was not your usage that was the cause? If so, then if you take court action you will need to demonstrate on the balance of probabilities that this is so to the judge.

          Answer the above and this will decide your view on chasing the £95.
          Thanks for all your replies!

          There was a dehumidifier supplied for the spare bedroom as we were not allowed to dry clothes outside or on any of the radiators in the flat... which as you can imagine makes life very difficult... but we always used it when we had clothes drying and the windows were always open. There was no fan in the bathroom at all, which was opposite the bedroom where the mould was.

          Also, I was emailed a copy of the tenancy agreement to read through a couple of weeks before we moved in, it was dated 5 March 2006 so it was obviously the agreement for the last tenants. I read through this and on the day we moved in I signed the agreement, as you would. It was only when we were having problems that I looked back and checked them both against each other and there was a paragraph added to the new agreement about mould. So she obviously knew that there was a problem and chose not to inform us, and didn’t tell me that she had amended the agreement that we signed.

          I think I have a strong case but am worried about the court costs… does anyone know how much in total it would end up costing me?

          Comment


            #6
            Have a read of this axle

            http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/H...eaflets_id=179

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by axle69 View Post
              Thanks for all your replies!

              Also, I was emailed a copy of the tenancy agreement to read through a couple of weeks before we moved in, it was dated 5 March 2006 so it was obviously the agreement for the last tenants. I read through this and on the day we moved in I signed the agreement, as you would. It was only when we were having problems that I looked back and checked them both against each other and there was a paragraph added to the new agreement about mould. So she obviously knew that there was a problem and chose not to inform us, and didn’t tell me that she had amended the agreement that we signed.

              I think I have a strong case but am worried about the court costs… does anyone know how much in total it would end up costing me?
              The point about the AST forwarded to you and then changed when you came to sign it is quite valid as a clause was instroduced unbeknown to you
              The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.

              Comment


                #8
                If you have the facility to ventilate and heat your property, then the landlady is justified in deducting a sum from your deposit to clean mould - condensation and mould results from peoples "lifestyles". Landlords can take action to help, but responsibility rests with you as tenant to prevent it from happening.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by fallenlord View Post
                  If you have the facility to ventilate and heat your property, then the landlady is justified in deducting a sum from your deposit to clean mould - condensation and mould results from peoples "lifestyles". Landlords can take action to help, but responsibility rests with you as tenant to prevent it from happening.
                  How can it be the tenants fault if they are unaware that this could happen? It had obviously happened before as they changed tenancy agreement before we moved in!!!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by axle69 View Post
                    How can it be the tenants fault if they are unaware that this could happen? It had obviously happened before as they changed tenancy agreement before we moved in!!!
                    Well, it is your "fault" as condensation/mould is created as a result of your actions and lifestyle - unless you are expecting the landlady to come around daily to ventilate and heat the property, responsibility for preventing and treating it rests with you.

                    With regards to the tenancy agreement - did they say to you that the copy you signed was an exact copy of the one they emailed to you? If not Im afraid this is simply a case of "buyer beware" as the onus is on you to read it. The content of Tenancy Agreements can and does change to reflect all sorts of scenarios - we have a clause in our agreement requiring tenants to keep the property aired - could it be that the landlady was just being sensible and updating her tenancy agreements?

                    The moral here is read through anything before you sign.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by fallenlord View Post
                      Well, it is your "fault" as condensation/mould is created as a result of your actions and lifestyle - unless you are expecting the landlady to come around daily to ventilate and heat the property, responsibility for preventing and treating it rests with you.

                      With regards to the tenancy agreement - did they say to you that the copy you signed was an exact copy of the one they emailed to you? If not Im afraid this is simply a case of "buyer beware" as the onus is on you to read it. The content of Tenancy Agreements can and does change to reflect all sorts of scenarios - we have a clause in our agreement requiring tenants to keep the property aired - could it be that the landlady was just being sensible and updating her tenancy agreements?

                      The moral here is read through anything before you sign.
                      Are you sure your not my landlady in disguise?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by axle69 View Post
                        Are you sure your not my landlady in disguise?

                        lol, sorry - at least not the last time I looked!! b

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I had a problem with mould in the flat in which I live. It is not always just condensation - it can also be related to the overall condition of the building - and old buildings are particularly vulnerable since they often do not have cavity walls and ground floors may even be a bit damp anyway.

                          There is a very good and comprehensive article on this website on the subject - I know because I printed it off at the time - and it is how I discovered this website in the beginning!

                          I have managed the problem very well since my original discovery by following the instructions in the article on cleaning mould away carefully trying not to distribute the spoors etc. I also use a dehumidifier when drying washing indoors - unavoidable at times. I use a washer dryer which is great for dealing with things like towels and other heavy cotton goods. The two ventilation vents in my walls are alway open and my windows are also locked in the slightly open position most of the time. Lids on saucepans, a very good extractor in the bathroom and really just being aware of the huge amount of water we just breath out in 24 hours!!!

                          And to fallenlord - landlords in the US are being sued now by tenants suffering mould in their properties as it is a health hazard - it is something that landlords do need to be aware of and to manage in their properties. However, tenants also have a responsibility to be aware of and mitigate any problems themselves.
                          Mrs Jones
                          I am not an expert - my posts are my opinion and should not be taken as fact!!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            ...except the Liberal Democrats (who're always claiming that they've broken the mould).
                            JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                            1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                            2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                            3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                            4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                              ...except the Liberal Democrats (who're always claiming that they've broken the mould).


                              Mold East: Chris Bithell (Lab) = 471 votes

                              Mold South: Robin Guest (Lib Dem) = 496 votes

                              Mold West: Carolyn Cattermoul (Lib Dem) = 353 votes

                              Note Carolyn's name as well.
                              ASSUME NOTHING - QUESTION EVERYTHING!

                              Comment

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