Landlord withholding deposit for repairs/cleaning

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    Landlord withholding deposit for repairs/cleaning

    Hello, i'm a newbie but i hear this is the place for good advice! if anyone can suggest how best to proceed...

    Me and partner moved out of a flat 1 month ago, had been there for 2.5 years and signed a year contract at the beginning of that (apr 06). Guess this means i'm not covered by the Deposit Protection Scheme? we didnt resign anything.

    after moving out, landlord inspected flat the wkend after while we were away and then emailed back the next week with a number of issues- carpets needing repair, walls repainting, the cost of professional cleaners etc. (new tenants also moved in that week)

    We left the flat looking pretty much spotless,and def cleaner than when we moved in (but stupidly didnt take pics). there were a couple of small things that we know we're liable for, and we said we were happy to cover those costs. But the majority of it is just general wear and tear, or things that have been like that prior to us being there.Plus he only informed us of his decision to have a pro clean after he'd had it done. (is £175 for a small 1 bedroom flat clean about right??)

    i've emailed him several times with our objections, he responded at first but then just ignored my counter-points. then today i got an email giving us a breakdown of the alleged costs, saying the remainder of our deposits had been sent as cheques in the post. We've repeatedly asked for receipts for the work done, and also for a copy of an '"Independent Report" that he claimed his decision to use the pro cleaners was based on, but he hasnt sent them.

    the total amount that i believe we shouldn't have to pay for is just under £400.

    i know its not loads, but its a significant amount to me, and i basically think he didn't bother having the flat tidied up properly before we moved in and is now trying to make up for it. When we moved in the inventory was just an out of date list of furniture/furnishings and several things were broken. We had to have various building repair works while we were there and informed him verbally at the time that this left some damage to the carpets

    i really don't want to back down but am a little nervous of threatening legal action. would i have a chance in Small Claims if it came down to our word vs. his? how is 'acceptable wear and tear' to be interpreted? have been trying to get through to CAB but no joy yet. If anyone can advise if he's breached any legal requirements i'd be most grateful. thank you!

    #2
    Oops

    didn't mean to use my email as my username. can some kind moderator type please delete my posts? thank you

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by havelunch View Post
      didn't mean to use my email as my username. can some kind moderator type please delete my posts? thank you
      "Havelunch" is not an e-mail address, is it, so what is problem?
      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


        #4
        Did you and your partner sign the inventory when you moved in,, to agree that it was a true record?

        Did the inventory detail the contents of the property (including their state/condition) and describe the state of cleanliness of the property?

        If the answer to either (or both) of these questions is 'no', then I would think you would have a good case for claiming against your landlord for the return of your full deposit, (minus the deductions which you agree to).

        If you LL wants to contest your claim, he must prove that the place was gleaming, etc. before you moved in and that it was not, when you moved out. Even then he cannot expect you to pay for 'fair wear and tear', if that's what you think he is doing.

        And even if he put a clause in your TA saying that you will be charged for 'professional cleaning' when you move out, he was wrong to do so. He cannot insist on this. The price you mention for the cleaning sounds possible, but that's academic, especially without invoices, etc.

        Advise him in writing that if he does not return £x within 14 days, you will be pressing 'send' on the online claim that you have prepared. Attach a print-out of this claim so he knows you mean business. The claim should be for the amount you think he owes you plus court costs (see advice on the online claim site for this).

        It's unlikely to go to court, as the threat of litigation seems to focus the mind of some LLs wonderfully. He may well pay up without the need for further action.
        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

        Comment


          #5
          thanks for replying -

          jeffrey - the kind moderator changed my username!

          Mind the Gap - the Inventory was a very basic list of the contents in the flat (it was semi-furnished) and contained no details of the conditions of any of the items/furniture, nor any description of the current state of cleanliness of the flat. I updated the list of furnishings (as some that it listed weren't there) and emailed it to my LL, but added no other info.

          at no point were we asked to sign an inventory (either the old one of the one i updated), and having just checked it, it's so minimal i don't think it's worth anything.

          right, better get looking at those claims forms... thank you

          Comment


            #6
            http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums...t=13905&page=4

            Havelunch, i had the same issue with my landlord and everyone here was really helpful. I threatened court action and did get most of my deposit back but it was a hassle. You just need to weigh up how much is worth fighting for. I knew i was right but as i was temping, i couldnt afford to take time off for it. But definitely the advice here helped as did the Citizens Advice Bureau phone lines and your local Tenancy Dispute Officer who normally works at your local council.

            Comment


              #7
              argh..

              well i emailed him saying we were disappointed he was trying to force an unagreed settlement on us, reiterated all my objections and said i would go to Small Claims if he didn't respond within 14 days. I also included a screengrab of the filled-in Money Claims Online webpage (couldnt see an option to print out the form)

              He responded a couple of days ago saying he thinks my objections are 'ludicrous', and sent me lots of pics of all the 'disgusting' dirt we didn't clean from the flat. such as... forgetting to clean the inside rim of the washing machine. yes, horrific, i know.

              anyways, so i've spoken to CAB and i've got an appt with a housing advice solicitor. need to try and find out as much as possible about what kind of evidence/proof could help or go against me. he's got pics of all the alleged 'damage' from after we left, and an invoice from his mate the agent for a pro clean around when we moved in (but i still can't quite believe this, if they did do one it was a rubbish job) and i'm worried a judge will take this over my word that most of the 'damage' was like that when we moved in

              can anyone advise whether it's likely to come down to such pernickity bits of details/evidence?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by havelunch View Post
                well i emailed him saying we were disappointed he was trying to force an unagreed settlement on us, reiterated all my objections and said i would go to Small Claims if he didn't respond within 14 days. I also included a screengrab of the filled-in Money Claims Online webpage (couldnt see an option to print out the form)

                He responded a couple of days ago saying he thinks my objections are 'ludicrous', and sent me lots of pics of all the 'disgusting' dirt we didn't clean from the flat. such as... forgetting to clean the inside rim of the washing machine. yes, horrific, i know.

                anyways, so i've spoken to CAB and i've got an appt with a housing advice solicitor. need to try and find out as much as possible about what kind of evidence/proof could help or go against me. he's got pics of all the alleged 'damage' from after we left, and an invoice from his mate the agent for a pro clean around when we moved in (but i still can't quite believe this, if they did do one it was a rubbish job) and i'm worried a judge will take this over my word that most of the 'damage' was like that when we moved in

                can anyone advise whether it's likely to come down to such pernickity bits of details/evidence?
                If he has no detailed evidence of the state of the property when you moved in, he has no grounds for keeping any of your deposit. Invoices and photographs taken after you moved out are meaningless. It could have looked like that and needed cleaning when you moved in, couldn't it? He has no proof it did not. He probably knows that, but is trying to frighten you. Hold your ground - as the previous poster said, it is a bit of a hassle, but it's probably worth it to get your deposit back. A judge is highly unlikely to take his word over yours - most judges rule in favour of tenants in cases like this. I still don't think it will come to court. Call his bluff.

                (If you want any help with your next letter to him, send me a pm!)
                'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

                Comment


                  #9
                  Inventory is very basic and LL has to prove condition at start AND end of AST so go to court pretty safe in the knowledge that you will win.
                  GOVERNMENT HEALTH WARNING: I am a woman and am therefore prone to episodes of PMT... if you don't like what I have to say you can jolly well put it in your pipe and SMOKE IT!!

                  Oh and on a serious note... I am NOT a Legal person and therefore anything I post could be complete and utter drivel... but its what I have learned in the University called Life!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Keeping the deposit.

                    I get really annoyed when landlords do that. As a small-time landlord myself, I believe in treating tenants fairly - especially when the majority are good people who pay the rent and look after the place.

                    A few years ago, two friends lived in shared flats and the landlord (who was a bit of a nasty lady) refused to return the deposit based on the same reason as yours. One of my friends had lived in her flat for six years and did actually leave the place in a complete state. She didn't bother trying to claim back the deposit and fair enough. My other friend did look after her rental place and when denied her deposit she did as the kind people here have suggested - and she got her money back.

                    Recently, a third friend decided to vacate her house with her daughter at the end of the six-month agreement as the landlord was upping the rent. She kept the place immaculate but the landlord said he would keep the deposit (all £550) of it for cleaning. She queried this but he said it was part of the small print in the contract. I now see the landlord cannot do this and she has a good case to threaten legal action. I then recommended this course of action. I feel for those who do the right thing but then get screwed over by greedy people.

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