Full £550 deposit being withheld

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    Full £550 deposit being withheld

    Hi,

    Sorry for the long message here but I want to make sure I get all the details in......

    I recently moved out of a house I was lodging in. The Lodger agreement was originally 6 months from Novermeber 1st 2009 but I handed in 1 months notice on March 24th and offically moved out April 24th.

    My LL and I got on very well and there was certainly no bad blood when I left. In fact when I left she hugged me and wished me well. In my official notice email she said I was a pleasure to live with and was sad to see me go.

    When we spoke about getting my £550 deposit back she asked if I could wait until her pay day. I naively agreed as she had only recently got back into work after being unemployed for 4 months. We never once spoke about me not getting my deposit back, she didn't raise any concerns on my day of leaving and even in email correspondence after I left on the 29th of April she said she had sent a cheque to my new address.

    I started to get concerned last week as the cheque hadn't arrived. I thought it had been stolen so left a message and email telling my ex LL to cancel the cheque. I didn't hear from her for a couple of days so I tried calling from a different number. Straight away she picked up the phone and proceeeded to tell me that she had sent a letter saying she would not be paying back the deposit. I have not received any such correspondence and was astounded as she told me the reasons why she wasn't paying which were as follows:

    1. New blinds. When my LL originally took me on as a lodger she had already rented out the room upstairs and planned to convert the conservatory into a bedroom. As part of this she planned to put in new blinds.

    Never once was this raised as something I would need to contribute money towards, if it had been i would have refused. But she said this extra cost was because of me and that my deposit was being held for that.I certainly accept no responsibility in terms of this cost and most importantly my lodger contract had no such statement saying I would be responsible for incurring any cost.

    2. Food. I always purchased my own food. I certainly didn't take anything of my landladys when I left and I also always contributed my share to any household cleaning items. I also paid an extra £40 on my last months rent to cover any extras. She never provided me any receipts for this extra amount but I trusted it was fair.

    3. Phone bills. I used my LL phone for several work calls in December and January. I have already paid cash for these some months ago and then stopped using her phone.

    4. Printer Cartridge. I used her printer a couple of times, probably about 10 pages. She now wants me to pay for an entire new one.

    5. Cleaning. I originally planned to clean my room on the Sunday after I left (18th April). She was very keen on having your tenant move in on the 18th (I handed in my notice until the 24th and paid till the end of the month) and said she was happy to vacuum the room. She said the room was filthy and had marks on it. This is just not the case, and my friend who helped me move is a witness to the cleanliness of the room.

    I understand that as a lodger my deposit does not fall under any protection scheme. As a result what avenues do I have to get this money back? I have sent an email trying to negotiate a settlement of £450 with no reply. I actually paid rent until the end of the month instead of April 24th so i had already paid an extra £130. So £100 extra from my deposit should cover any "cleaning" or "marks" she says I left.

    If a settlement isn't reached is suing through small claims my only other avenue? Now that my ex LL has shown her true colors I'm worried she will come up with some ridiculous counter claim.

    Any advise would be appreciated. Although I have been naive in this case I'm being totally taken advantage of because my ex LL does not have the ability to pay back the money.

    #2
    Write down a figure you think that should be retained, and explain how you got there.

    If she falls short, all you can do is to take her to court if she continues to be difficult.

    Personally I would ignore her petty deductions, and let her use them in a counterclaim. I suspect that they would be laughed at, and strengthen your case.
    Allow tenants to protect their own deposits. I want free money when they do it wrong

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks. I sent an email to her stating that I would not accept anything less than £450 based on the fact that I only accept liability for the cleaning. Does anyone know if there is a standard calculation for cleaning costs? The reason I ask is that she stated that cleaning would be 36% of the deposit which I find quite a bizarre number?

      Comment


        #4
        The small claims court process is very simple and the simple threat of it may be enough to pursuade your ex-landlord to give in.

        I personally think the claim are ludicrous, and if you went to courts she would need to prove each and every one to a judge with firm evidence which seems somewhat unlikely.

        I would send a "letter before action" giving her 7 days to pay up or you will seek the return of your deposit in the small claims court. If she does not pay simple start proceedings, it costs about 70 quid and does not require a solicitor. You do however need to be very clear with your evidence including evidence of payment (bank statement for example) and contract.

        We can help you with the process if anything is unclear

        Comment


          #5
          Hi Matthew,

          Thanks for this. In the email I sent my ex LL on Saturday I stated I would give her until Wednesday to reply. I would like to follow the letter before action route as well. Do you know a good place to find templates?

          If you can help with the process that would be great, what are your costs?

          Also, if I win in small claims can I apply to have the LL cover all of my costs?

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by nodepositback View Post
            Hi Matthew,

            Thanks for this. In the email I sent my ex LL on Saturday I stated I would give her until Wednesday to reply. I would like to follow the letter before action route as well. Do you know a good place to find templates?
            You don't need a template. All you need to state is that you want your deposit back, and that if it is not returned by a specified date, you will issue a county court claim.

            If you can help with the process that would be great, what are your costs?
            Matthew meant that we on the forum can help.

            Also, if I win in small claims can I apply to have the LL cover all of my costs?
            The court fees can be added to the claim.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by nodepositback View Post
              Thanks. I sent an email to her stating that I would not accept anything less than £450 based on the fact that I only accept liability for the cleaning. Does anyone know if there is a standard calculation for cleaning costs? The reason I ask is that she stated that cleaning would be 36% of the deposit which I find quite a bizarre number?
              Cleaning should be charged at cost; no 'calculation' necessary.

              The cost must also be fair and reasonable - £100 is excessive for cleaning one room, you'd expect to pay around that for a whole one-bed flat. So, if this went before a court, even if LL had a receipt for £100 from a cleaning company, it's quite likely she would not be awarded the full cost, because the work could have been done for less.

              Comment


                #8
                I'm not so sure. Carpet cleaners now charge about £50-60 for a couple of rooms, and that's just for the carpets.
                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


                  #9
                  Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                  I'm not so sure. Carpet cleaners now charge about £50-60 for a couple of rooms, and that's just for the carpets.
                  I just had a one-bed flat cleaned last week, in central London. It cost £110 incl. VAT (and including steam cleaning the oven). No carpets at the property.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    All,

                    Thanks for your help, its all been very useful - I will let you know how I get on. I hope my LL sees the light before having to go through the courts process.

                    Comment

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