Cleaning and repair costs, what to charge etc

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    Cleaning and repair costs, what to charge etc

    I've had a recent problem when our first event tenant moved out. When she gave notice we went round and inspected the property with her, pointed out what needed rectifying and left her with the list. All in accordance with the agreed inventory and schedule of condition. When she eventually returned the keys, 3 days later than agreed, none of this had been done.

    It was originally a fully refurbished property and everything was in new or perfect condition, but sadly was returned in a seriously bad state. I had to take the week off work unpaid in order to clean and repair, including 2 doors kicked in, all the light bulbs taken, oven, kitchen and bathroom so dirty it took me hours and hours and so on. We had to have the oven professionally cleaned and it took the poor guy nearly 6 hours for the oven and hob. Keys not returned - assumed lost. The drains needed unblocking where she had filled them up with rubbish down the kitchen sink and so on, and on....

    We also had to loose rent on the new tenants becasue she returned the keys late after going on holiday and not telling anyone, and becasue so much work needed doing before it was ready for them to move in. We didn;t make any charge for this however.

    I tried to be reasonable and didn;t charge for any cleaning materials and didn;t replace anything unless strictly necessary, didn;t charge for materials like paint or lightbulbs, and charged £5 an hour for my time even though I charge my work clients 5 times that. The total charge came in at a whopping £419.00.

    We supplied a full list and breakdown room by room of what had been carried out and gave this to the tenant with a DVD containing digital photos of the condition when originally let together with a video and photos of the condition she left it in.

    Needless to say there was a problem or I wouldn't be writing this. She went absolutely mad. She kept on and on about stupid little things and really seemed to miss the big picture. We kept refusing to give her this money back but it has been really unpleasant dealing with her abusive phone calls and messages all the time.

    My questions really are:

    Was it reasonable to charge for all this work, did I charge at the right rate?
    I feel stupid now that I tried to do the best for her when really she didn;t appreciate it.
    What does everyone else charge for cleaning and repairs and their time?
    How can I avoid all this unpleasantness in future.

    I am just about to give notice on another tenant after a recent check showed the property lapsing into a similar state despite regular visits. I know baliffs have also been recently involved and rent is regulalry very late. How can I get her to sort all this out - I don't want to go through all this hassle again.

    Advice please.

    "Dear Ms Appalling-Tenant

    "In view of your concern over the sum which I have had to charge you to reinstate my property into the condition it was in when I handed it over to you, I have rechecked my calculations as to the cost of rectifying the considerable damage. Unfortunately it appears that I inadvertently omitted several items, and did not include these in the bill. In addition, I notice that in working out the total, I accidentally used the wrong hourly rate - it should have been £8.50/hour [1]. I include a full breakdown of the complete bill, which as you can see, totals £987.23(?). With the deduction of your £500(?) deposit, that now leaves you owing me £487.23. If this payment is not forthcoming within the next 7 days I will regretfully have no option but to pursue the matter in the Small Claims Court.

    "However, since I acknowledge that the error in the calculations was my fault, as a gesture of goodwill I am prepared to honour the original damage bill of £419, providing you accept this forthwith, and desist from your abusive telephone calls and messages.


    Ok, maybe a bit strong but you get the idea?!!

    [1] Don't know what the exact figure should be, but it's certainly a lot more than £5/hr. There is an hourly rate which is generally 'accepted' by the courts - something like £8.50/hr IIRC? - it's been mentioned in this forum several times but I'm afraid can't persuade the rather 'challenging' search engine on this forum to impart the info.

    Regarding your next tenant quitting, if I were you I would write a polite letter pointing out all her obligations at the end of the tenancy, including examples of what she needs to do to get her deposit back in full. Offer to go round for a 'pre-inventory-inspection' check if she wants, to enable her to have the chance to put things right herself before you do the final inventory- although it sounds like you did that with your current tenant!


      Deby -This will not help you, but I think you have been extremely unlucky with your first tenant. Please believe me, not all of them are like that. What sort of tenants are you taking? I am very worried that you say another one is going the same way. In 20 years I have only had two bad ones and they were not as extreme as that. Are your properties in difficult areas or are you only taking DSS? Mine are not up market flats either but this seems strange. Certainly from your discription you would be entitled to more than £419. May I suggest you contact your Tenancy Liason Officer at the local council. They can act as mediator between the two of you. And point out from the sound of it that she has not got a leg to stand on. Best of luck - let us know how you get on Susan


        No need for any mediation susan2. The poster just wants to know she has done the right thing.

        The landlord has good evidence here and all she has to prove is that her costs are "reasonable" which I consider she has clearly done.

        I wouldn't be contacting the ex-tenant other than by letter as she clearly has an issue that is unsustainable. Let her brood, and then if she feels strongly enough about it to take the landlord to court then so be it; she will almost certainly lose!
        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.



          Sounds to me you have been perfectly reasonable - perhaps too much so as Ericthelobster implies.
          You have certainly gone about this the right way with a schedule of condition and a good inventory - I like the idea of the DVD
          All this will now stand you in good stead if it comes to a Small Claims Court - don't be put off doing this youself if it comes to it - it is a perfectly straightforward process if your documentation is in order - and you should get all costs.
          Another approach you could take here is to have professional cleaners do the lot. The advantages here are: you don't lose earnings, you know exactly what to charge her with an independent professional charge and an invoice to show (courts will be like the Inland Revenue, they don't seem to see it as a true cost if you have done it yourself, though you should get reasonable costs here), the job is done quicker, hopefully, so you can relet earlier.
          Ideally you should get 2 estimates, which is a hastle, but will help if it comes to court.
          It's probably going to cost her more this way, but it's less hastle for you, apart from trying to get someone to do the job for you quickly.
          Of course you need to weigh up if you are going to get your money if it's a lot more than the deposit - if the tenant is in work you stand a very good chance.
          It's difficult to say how you avoid this in future. Verifying tenants is the most important part of letting, but however thorough you are some will turn out like this. You have probably done all you could to be rasonable, but as you say, people don't always appreciate it and some are downright unreasonable - people have different standards of cleanliness and behaviour.
          All you can say is, for every one like this tenant there are perhaps around 7 or 8 that would have been clean and tidy - luckily these types are in the minority and not the majority in my exerience - you seem to have been unlucky here.
          If you have a similar situation with the second one I don't see any option but go through the process again - if the tenant is likely to be able to pay - go for it.


            Thanks for all the helpful replies. Both tenants were from reputable letting agencies, referenced etc by them. But I suppose without visiting where they lived before, there is no guarantee of tidyness etc. Both seem to have developed issues during the let, due to splitting up with partner, money issues etc and the lets have both gone down hill sharply recently.

            The other tenant I worry about seems to have a severe alcohol problem judging by the overflowing dustbins full of bottles and cans, and this perhaps is contributory to the state of the house.

            I'll bite the bullet now and give notice, and do as suggested, put all of the items in writing in advance so that she is at least fully aware that she will be charged for putting everything right if she can't be bothered to do it herself. The condition is rather more tricky in this property because all of my digital 'before' photos were lost during a computer crash, but I do have the written inventory and schedule of condition to fall back on.

            Thanks again.


              Out of curiosity; How much deposit do you take . If i am suspicious i always take 6 weeks, as "paragon" does


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