Witholding part of deposit

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  • Witholding part of deposit

    Hi everyone...

    Sorry - bit of a long one!

    Hoping you can help with some advice... we've just moved out of a property where we have been good tenants. We've utilised the break clause because I'm pregnant (we advertised and found replacement tenants within a fortnight, and there was no void in the rent).

    Anyway, when we signed the contract at the start of the lease, my husband questioned the part that said the flat needed to be "professionally cleaned" upon our departure. We were told verbally that it just meant "to a professional standard" and that if we cleaned it well enough ourselves, that would be fine.

    After confirming our departure date, we received a letter from the agent stating the procedure for moving out, and stating that the place needed to be cleaned to a "professional standard". The agent also recommended a cleaning company to us via email, but I thanked them and told them that we intended to do the cleaning ourselves (we received no response regarding this).

    So upon our departure, I cleaned the place absolutely spotless... the independent inventory guy who did the check-out even said it looked like we had left it in a better state than we found it.

    On his report, he marks the state of the cleaning as "good" when it was only "fair/good" when we moved in (it had apparently been professionally cleaned before we moved in". Nowhere in the report does he make any mention of the cleaning being not good enough - the only mention of cleaning is where he states that each appliance and area had been cleaned.

    The only thing marked as damaged in the report compared to the check-in report was damage to the bed base, which we have accepted and are happy to pay for.

    The agent then visited the property following the check-out report and sent me an email with a list of damage (all of which were already present on the original check-in report!) and stating that because the place had not been professionally cleaned, we would need to pay £175 for cleaning.

    We have been corresponding, and I have explained we are not happy to pay this as there was no need for extra cleaning (according to the independent inventory) and we had previously agreed that "to a professional standard" was acceptable.

    The agent has dropped reference to the other list of things, but is sticking to his claim that we need to pay £175 for professional cleaning. In his last email, he added an extra £90 for the inventory check-out report (the one he is choosing to ignore!).

    I'm about to lodge a small claims court claim for the full deposit, minus the cost of the bed base - I just thought I'd see what opinions or advice I could get first from you lovely people.

    Any thoughts? Does the verbal agreement and the subsequent check-out letter quoting "to a professional standard" support our claim, or does the fact that we signed the lease (which states "professionally cleaned") override that?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    You sound like dream tenants so dig yr heels in & don't pay. Sorry I can't comment on yr legal standing but the inventories support yr case.
    My last prof cleaning bill (as a landlord in SW London, 2 bed 2 bath flat) was 80 GBP & there's loads of desperate people looking for work so I'd pay less next time.
    Good luck but don't give in - those agents are looking at us like cash machines!

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    • #3
      Thanks Poolboy... that's what's so annoying - I think we've been really good tenants!

      I've checked our lease, and it says we are to pay for the checkout fee, so I guess we have to wear the extra £90...

      One further question - there was a hole (about 20cm round) in the base of the divan bed (i think by big pregnant self stood on it to remove the lampshade when we were cleaning!). They're claiming £94 for a replacement bed base.... do we have to replace it, or pay compensation towards the eventual replacement (the bed was otherwise new and I wouldn't have imagined that the whole base needed replacing??)

      thanks again.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by shufflebunny View Post
        The agent has dropped reference to the other list of things, but is sticking to his claim that we need to pay £175 for professional cleaning. In his last email, he added an extra £90 for the inventory check-out report (the one he is choosing to ignore!).

        Thanks!
        I think that if the inventory clerk was happy with the condition of the flat you are right to resist the professional cleaning charge, however it is normal for the tenant to pay the cost of the check out. The LL pays for the check in inventory, unless your contract says differently of course.

        It is normal to pay a percentage of any damaged goods depending on how much use they have had, in the case of a divan bed base I should think they only last about five years, so if it was already a year old then offer them 80% of the new cost.
        I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

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        • #5
          If you haven't done so already, it may be worth querying with the LL/Agent what specifically they do not consider to have been cleaned to a professional standard. My experience of tenant's cleaning has that it has not been to a good standard, even where they say that is the case, but I have always been able to point to and evidence specific failings which they would have to do anyway. At the very least, this may to narrow areas of disagreement.

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