Can Landlord Withhold Security Deposit For Carpet Smell Because I Had a Dog?

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    Can Landlord Withhold Security Deposit For Carpet Smell Because I Had a Dog?

    Hi everyone,

    I'm new here so apologizies if this question is covered in another thread. Here's my situation.

    I had an AST tenancy which expressly granted me permission to have a dog. The landlord even wanted to meet the dog before accepting my tenancy as he had a bit of trepidation over allowing one in his property. My dog is 100% housetrained and arthritic so his access to the house was limited to the ground floor, of which only the hallway was carpeted.

    When I moved out, I had the place professionally cleaned from top to bottom, including the carpets. I thought the place looked great. Upon check-out he commented on there being a dog smell but acknowledged he'd given me permission to have one. He requested that some of the walls in the rooms be painted, which I agreed to take care of. I returned the keys to the lettings agency two weeks ago.

    Now he's claiming there's still a dog smell, even after airing the place out. He says the letting agents are saying it's putting off prospective tenants. Over the past two weeks I strongly suspect he's been carrying out improvements on the property while it's still vacant and installing a dishwasher and washing machine. Yesterday I inquired about the security deposit, which still hadn't been returned, and he says there's still a dog smell and would contact the letting agents about what to do.

    I suspect he's going to deduct money from my deposit for this. I don't know how much. After I'd had the walls painted, I think the place was actually in better condition when I gave it back to him than it was when I took on the tenancy. A dog smell is very subjective and impossible to prove if this goes to arbitration. Besides that, after two weeks the property will no longer even be in the condition in which I gave it back to him.

    Does anyone know what my rights are regarding this? Can he do this? I have moved several times, and the landlords have always been quite happy with the condition of the property when I return it to him. I'm suspicious that I'm being taken for a ride by this landlord, however, and fear that he's looking for a way to have new carpet installed at my expense.

    Many thanks for any feedback provided!

    #2
    It would be fair for the landlord to ask for the cost of professional cleaning of the carpet in the hall, however if he wants to replace it altogether then he would only be entitled to a proportion of the cost. Dependent on the quality of the carpet and projected lifetime he could only ask for a percentage of the value of the new carpet.

    This assumes the dog smell is from the carpet in the hall,
    I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

    Comment


      #3
      He claims the carpet has a dog smell.

      I had the carpet professionally cleaned before we did the check-out. At the time he commented that it smelled like dog but acknowledged that he'd granted permission to have one and that I hadn't done anything out of order and didn't request that I take any further action regarding the carpet. He wanted me to paint and clean some of the rooms, which I did. A few days after he had the keys back, he went back to the carpet smell and basically implied they needed to be cleaned again. I gave him the number to the carpet cleaners begrudgingly expecting he'd deduct the cost for a reclean from from deposit. Now he says he had it cleaned again and that it still smells. I don't think it does and neither did a friend who was there the day I returned the keys. It's been over 2 weeks now since I returned the keys to him (and 3 weeks since the end of my tenancy). I'm just wondering how long he's allowed to drag this out and feel in a pretty vulnerable position since a "smell" cannot be objectively judged by an arbitrator at this point.
      Last edited by bellysaysumsh; 27-05-2011, 20:38 PM. Reason: type-o

      Comment


        #4
        IMO the OP is accustomed to the dog's background odour, the LL is not.
        If the dog does not have free access to outside at all times, it is likely to relieve itself near its known exit (Hallway?) Dog & cat urine odour matures with age, unlikely to be removed with prof cleaning, which would likely leave some dog/cat hair allergens for future Ts
        OK LL granted permission for dog (hard to exclude pets if requested).
        I would suggest T could be liable for upto 50% replacement cost of any carpets and/or any deep clean

        Comment


          #5
          Mariner,

          The dog is house trained, as I described in my post. The landlord is describing a dog smell, not urine. The two are quite different.

          I can assure you it's very easy indeed for landlords to withhold permission to have a dog as a principle, which is fine: it's their property. In the lettings market in the UK at the moment landlords do not have to humour tenants on that point if it's that big of an issue for them.

          Does anyone know how long the landlord is reasonably allowed to draw this out? I know there are parameters set in the tenancy deposit scheme, but I'm trying to be reasonable. But, if arbitration is necessary, does anyone know of outcomes of any cases regarding a dispute over carpet smell?

          Many thanks!

          Comment


            #6
            Your dog made the carpet smell, you pay to clean the carpet. It's convievable that one cleaning isn't enough.
            This is a reminder why in the past I've relaxed my 'no pets' rule then regretted having done so.
            Cat's urine, flea infestations & a hamster that made a nest out of the carpet.
            The moral is LL's. Show people compassion & in return you get not thanks, but aggravation instead.
            So LL's, when you have rules such as 'no pets' or 'no smoking' then jolly well don't relax the rules.
            They are there for a reason.

            Comment


              #7
              Why arnt you discussing this with the letting agents. They are the people who should be holding your deposit. I would visit them and get them to verbally tell you that the dog smell is putting potential tenants off. You may even find that they havent even sent any viewings round. You should expect that your ex landlord is going to try and charge you for a new carpet. I would be inclined to write a letter saying that if the landlord replaces the carpet with the intention of making a charge against you then the old carpet is to be made available for inspection at any time in the future should you wish to inspect it or use it as evidence should the issue result in a dispute where the said carpet can be used in your defence in court.

              Comment


                #8
                We recently had to replace a dining room carpet which still had dog smell on in spite of professional cleaning (By the way I write as a dog lover - see MTGs Highs and Lows thread!)
                However we paid for it - previous tenant had been there 5 years or so and always paid on time - it wasn't worth the trouble of trying to deduct! New carpets every few years are (to us) part of the cost of being a LL...
                The above post has some good ideas - telling them you may wish to inspect said carpet will concentrate their thinking!
                Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

                Comment


                  #9
                  One reason I'm going over to laminate floors in my flats. Carpets are a nightmare.
                  The 'Mega lock' stuff is great. It snaps together so easily. It's a new easy fit design. From 'Floors to Go'
                  The Ancola Oak we use looks great & has a 20 year gaurantee & 3 times as fast to fit compared to the traditional laminate flooring :-)
                  http://www.floors2go.co.uk/product_l...inate-flooring

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by islandgirl View Post
                    We recently had to replace a dining room carpet which still had dog smell on in spite of professional cleaning (By the way I write as a dog lover - see MTGs Highs and Lows thread!)
                    However we paid for it - previous tenant had been there 5 years or so and always paid on time - it wasn't worth the trouble of trying to deduct! New carpets every few years are (to us) part of the cost of being a LL...
                    The above post has some good ideas - telling them you may wish to inspect said carpet will concentrate their thinking!

                    A Landlord after my own heart. It´s all about give and take. I am a Landlord and my daughter was a tenant so I can see both cases. I do feel sometimes it is Letting Agents that cause a lot of the agro. I have always returned a deposit except in one case where the tenants did a bunk.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Hey, thanks. I like some of those suggestions. Given that the carpets were already professionally cleaned and definitely not new when I moved in, he didn't make the carpet an issue until after the initial walk-through and I'd painted some of his rooms, I don't trust that this guy has good intentions. Requesting the original carpets be retained if they're replaced is a good idea.

                      Regarding going to the letting agents about this, I did, and it seems they aren't the ones that placed my security deposit in one of the schemes. They said the landlord would have been. The next question is whether or not it's been deposited as the law requires since I never received any documentation. That's an avenue I'd rather not pursue, but the longer I wait in good faith for return of my deposit, the more prepared I am investigate whether or not my money was actually deposited. Then this issue with the carpets becomes suddenly less important as he'll have other concerns.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Hampton View Post
                        A Landlord after my own heart. It´s all about give and take. I am a Landlord and my daughter was a tenant so I can see both cases. I do feel sometimes it is Letting Agents that cause a lot of the agro. I have always returned a deposit except in one case where the tenants did a bunk.
                        I have also been a tenant between houses. Had to have an ENORMOUS battle with Agent to get deposit back (unfairly withheld) and ex-LL saw fit to do her Fish Wife impression and have a go at me in the street. "My husband's a Policeman you know" she yelled, hair flying everywhere, finger wagging. "Good so he'll no doubt know that you are legally in the wrong then" I replied (in a calm collected manner without a hint of haddock) and walked away...
                        Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Just to let everyone know that the landlord did, in fact, attempt to withhold 400 pounds of my deposit for the carpets. However, he's refunded that, as well, now.

                          Honestly I've never had issues getting my full deposit returned to me in the past. This was a landlord looking for a free bit of renovating here and there. I suppose landlords can purposely accept a tenant with a pet with the intent of claiming "smell" at the end of the tenancy so that they can get their already tired carpet replaced. It's a difficult claim for the tenant to defend. My story ends happily, however, because I responded in an email kindly inquiring which security deposit scheme the remainder of my money was in and requesting that he hold onto the original hallway carpet (since obviously his intent was to replace it for the amount he withheld) so that arbitration could fairly judge it to have been damaged. I copied my solicitor. What a surprise -- the very swift response from the landlord was a full refund of my money. So tenants out there -- if that's what it takes to get your money back, check the security deposit has been protected! Obviously in this case it never was.

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