Advice/help needed to battle against greedy landlord for full £2000 deposit claim

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    Advice/help needed to battle against greedy landlord for full £2000 deposit claim

    Hi everyone,

    Having moved out of my current flat end of July, we are in dispute with our landlord regarding the deposit claim. Here I summarized all relevant information. I would appreciate your advice/help/suggestion from your experience/knowledge etc.

    We got on well with our landlord in 3.5 years but the last check-out proved that to be wrong – he claimed the problem in kitchen/bathroom/floor, in total cost of refurbishing/replacing cost more than £4000. Clearly he wanted to rip me off, or recover certain amount of money for his redecoration.

    More irritatingly, he threatened me to accept £1000 within the two days after we moved out, or he has the rights to claim the full £2000. (I offered him £400, being the damage of bedroom wall – a 10cm hole; flooring and bath room work if necessary). When we moved out, we spent £150 end of tenancy professional cleaning to return the flat. When we moved in, there was no professional cleaning done. Neither move-in/out day has the inventory lists or photos were taken.
    We disputed the amount to be undertaken by ADR process. He proposed full £2000 that is been rejected by me as I don’t want to risk entire deposit. Then I proposed £800 to be returned and £1200 to go through ADR that is also rejected by him.

    Possible solution: thinking of going to the Small Claim Court unless someone has better ideas?


    Summary Info
    Tenancy period: 3.5 years (Feb/07 – Jul/10)
    Location: 2 bed/2 bath flat @ SE London
    Rent: £1200 per month (haven’t increased for 3.5 years)
    Deposit in total: £2000
    Deposit put into DPS: November 2007
    Landlord bought the flat in 2000 and lived there till when we moved in


    Main issue: Kitchen
    Overall there was no complaint until 1st June 2010 when the landlord wrote an email regarding the untidiness of the kitchen (grease of the cupboard/hob/extractor). We admit that’s because we were away for 3 weeks in May 2010 for wedding/honeymoon and hence no time to deep clean the flat. End of tenancy did do a good job and get back to the best possible conditions – no grease but he still claims the white cupboard has turned into yellow colour.

    Problems of the flat
    The flat has its age (15 years) and has various issues (not associated with kitchen/floor/bath though). Two major hot water tank breakdown caused not only leakage to the floor below but also no hot water for shower for more than two weeks in June 2010 and July 2009. Kitchen lights/washing machine and one bath were also fixed over last 3.5years.

    Suspicious Points/Conversation
    In late 2007 the landlord discussed his idea of refurbishing the kitchen and changes it to open plan (rather than current dead circle room). But this was postponed without any reason. On the check-out day, he also outlined this plan again in future. He also mentioned my rent has not increased for 3.5 years and £1000 deduction seems reasonable.

    Threatening/irritating conversation from the landlord
    ‘……I will keep my offer of £1000 open to the end of today. However, should you decide that this is not acceptable, I will pursue your deposit for the full £2000 which is quite within my right. The costs associated with the flooring, kitchen, and bathroom will easily surpass this figure…….’
    ‘……Quotation for kitchen and shower cubicle tiling alone (not including flooring, repair of wall in your room, loss of keys etc) is coming in at £1400 + £400. This is for the cheapest possible job using basic shower tiles and kitchen materials! I am now estimating total remedial costs to be:

    £1400 Kitchen
    £400 shower area
    £700 flooring
    £100 replacement keys
    £200 fixing of bedroom wall area

    ‘……I really think I am being more than generous by not insisting on the full £2000 and I believe I am being extremely forgiving of the four years of neglect on your part for these issues……’

    ‘……forgot to also mention in my email below that there will be a cost associated with the removal and disposal of the wooden desk, chair, drawers etc that you decided to leave behind at the flat for me to deal with. At the time of this email, the cost of removal and disposal of these items will be somewhere between £50 and £100 depending on how much time it will take for two people to do this……’


    My battling emails/solutions
    1. We maintain reasonable care (as contractually obligated to) throughout the tenancy. If the conditions are not tolerable, why would you extend the lease again and again for 3.5 years
    2. The flat itself has ageing issues
    3. We employed professional cleaning company to do end of tenancy clean
    4. Landlord’s costs analysis is ungrounded
    5. Landlord’s tune is threatening towards tenants
    6. Easiest way to resolve the issue is to put the property in market and see any prospective tenants willing to take the conditions we moved out

    Thanks for reading all of them (if you are still awake) and I appreciate your thoughts/ideas/suggestions.

    #2
    Originally posted by ccourtwstreet View Post
    When we moved in, there was no professional cleaning done. Neither move-in/out day has the inventory lists or photos were taken.
    We disputed the amount to be undertaken by ADR process. He proposed full £2000 that is been rejected by me as I don’t want to risk entire deposit. Then I proposed £800 to be returned and £1200 to go through ADR that is also rejected by him.

    Possible solution: thinking of going to the Small Claim Court unless someone has better ideas?
    No, that's the best idea if LL has rejected ADR.

    Aside from the fact that the LL's deductions sound unreasonable from what you describe, the LL has no evidence of the original condition of the property (i.e. no inventory check in) and this means that he will struggle to prove to the court that you have caused any damage to the property.

    Note that, even if LL did have the necessary evidence, he is not entitled to make deductions for 'fair wear and tear' and he is not entitled to what is called 'betterment' - broadly speaking this means he cannot charge you the full replacement cost of an old item.

    Next step is to write a letter before action to the LL. Say that you deny liability for the alleged damage, and if he does not agree to return the deposit in full you will issue a claim in the county court. Give a deadline (1 or 2 weeks), keep a copy of the letter and get a *free* certificate of posting. Assuming the LL doesn't agree to release the deposit by the deadline, then issue a claim online at https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome

    The LL will almost certainly defend with a counterclaim for the alleged damage, but since, as I said, he appears to have no evidence to support the allegations, and the deductions appear to be unreasonable, he is very unlikely to succeed.

    Comment


      #3
      P.S. Do try to stick to, and highlight, relevant facts in your claim - there is a lot of unnecessary information in your post, and it wastes the court's time if it has to plough through irrelevant facts, e.g. that you were away on honeymoon in May 2010, not to mention it may miss the relevant facts hidden among the irrelevant ones.

      You may also find it helpful to buy a book on small claims procedure; there are a few on Amazon.

      N.B. the court order must mention the DPS - it's in their terms and conditions that they won't pay out the deposit unless the court order instructs them to.

      Comment


        #4
        sorry to hijack your post, but have a similar situation with my ex-landlord and would appreciate some advice please.
        orignal nventory is bog standard where it stated that everything was clean. no pictures. day of checkout, LL acknowledged that property was clean. main point of contention was the cream carpet having wear mark. (3yrs in property with 2 children) i have pointed out that this is wear and tear. we had them professionally cleaned but LL insisting whole carpet needs replacng - whch s funny as he was talkinng abt putting down wooden floors a few mths ago!
        He has also said that we have to pay the full cost of redecoratin - ie, painting all walls in 3 bed house. as there are a few marks on the walls, i had agreed that they could do with a coat of paint. he has asked for £400. i have nw been advised that i am not required to pay the full cost of doing this (betterment?) as this constitutes wear and tear.
        he has asked for £400 to be released from DPS immediately and remainder to remain in dispute. i do not want to pay him ths if i do not have to as he is being very greedy.
        there are other issues such as claiming that we have brken a stair, when n actual fact it creaked from the day we moved in etc. He also never once had a new gas safety checks done once we had moved. something i only realsed once we had moved out. can i report him for ths, and what would hapen to him?
        He has said nw that he is going to pay for an independent nventory to be done, but what good can this do as we have been out of the property for over a month now, and who knows who has been in and out of there?
        I need to know if i fight this, i am on the right side as I do not want to be landed with a huge bill.

        Comment

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