Dispute with previous LL

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    Dispute with previous LL

    Afternoon All,

    I've not posted here previously, but I was wondering if you could offer me some advice. (Sorry for the long post!)

    I moved out of my previous privately rented property at the end of last month. There were 3 of us, myself and my other half, and another T. All of us were named on the AST.

    When we came to give notice to the LL, we discovered that his contact numbers were out of order, and the LA that he owned (and rented the property via) had gone out of business. After taking advice from Shelter, I sent him a letter advising that we were moving out, and stating that we were going to keep the last months' rent in leu of the deposit, as a means of getting him to contact us (we assumed that when the rent wasn't paid, he'd call us, so we could send him our notice properly). He obviously had a redirection on the previous address, as he received the letter, and I think he panicked a bit because the deposit wasn't protected, and said to keep the last months' rent as stated in the letter, so long as the property was left in a good condition.

    I've lived in several rented properties in the past, never been in arrears with the rent, and never had anything but the full deposit returned so I thought we would have no problem. We thoroughly cleaned the house, and repainted a couple of the rooms where there were scuffs on the walls. He came round to view the property on moving out day, we gave him the keys back, and he basically told us everything was fine and to have a nice life.

    Three days later, my other half received a text message from him, saying that the carpet in the living room has an "overpowering smell" of dog urine, and we needed to pay him £175 to have the carpet cleaned!

    I am dubious about this, as aside from the fact that our dog is toilet trained and has never been to the toilet in the living room, I hired a carpet cleaner as part of the "moving out cleaning" and did the whole house twice. I also feel that £175 to apparently only clean one (roughly 20' x 10') room seems excessive. Add this to the fact that when he told me that the house was fine we were standing in the living room and would have surely have told me then that it smelt, and the fact that he has since said that you can't stand in the living room for more than a minute without heaving, and I really haven't got a clue what's going on!

    He has said that he has 2 witness statements (we are assuming they are from the former housemate and his girlfriend as we fell out with them shortly before moving out), but not what they have witnessed. I myself can obtain 4 statements that I cleaned the carpets if necessary.

    Any advice about how to proceed with this would be much appreciated, he ended up getting quite abusive via text (he wouldn't answer his phone), but I really would rather get this resolved and everything over with so I can enjoy my new house! He is not willing to compramise at all and has told us to "pay now or pay more later".

    Many Thanks in advance,

    S

    #2
    Can't help you much with the legalities of this, but one thing that does come to mind is the carpet cleaning itself. I have come across several instances - both personally on one occasion (and I don't have a dog), and through some friends, who have discovered problems after wet cleaning carpets. For some reason, certain carpets generate a "wet dog/urine" type smell after cleaning, particularly if they were not adequately dried. This may not have been noticeable when you were living there and ventilating the property with daily comings and goings, but if it has been shut up for a few days after your departure, the smell can become quite evident. Perhaps this is qhat your LL can smell?

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      #3
      Oh ok, thank you for that! Maybe if I explain that to him he'll be a little more reasonable.

      Does anyone have any advice about what to do if he isn't?

      Thanks again, much appreciated.

      S

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        #4
        I had something similar happen to me when I moved out, but the landlord claimed a general dog smell as opposed to urine smell. I posted this on landlordzone as a thread, which you should be able to find by looking up my posts. The landlord was going to replace the carpet, and the advice I was given on here, which proved very helpful, was to ask him to retain a patch of the smelly bit so I could test it myself. He did this, but he completely backed off once I made it clear I'd dispute the deduction. I think that, had there genuinely been a smell, he wouldn't have backed off so easily. If I were you and felt confident in my position, I'd challenge him. I see how your case is different, however, in that he doesn't intend to replace the carpet and wants reimbursement for cleaning costs.

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          #5
          If you can not agree fair recompense with your landlord (and you may think £0 is fair) then your landlords only option is to sue you.

          His chances of success would depend on what evidence he has, and I would imagine 'smell' is a difficult one to prove. Obviously, in court, you would claim the carpet didn't smell, and you wold evidence that by means of the receipt for carpet cleaning.

          The judge will make a decision based on the balance of probabilities - ie who he believes most.

          I don't think the landlord would bother suing as his chances of winning are not great and it would involve cost and hassle. However, I can't guarantee what he will think, or what the judge would think. If you lost, you would have to pay whatever the judge thought was reasonable, together with the cost of the court claim (google ex50). You may also find you have a small amount of the landlords expenses to pay too.

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            #6
            Thank you so much for your help.

            We have told him that we don't feel that the amount is reasonable, and have asked him what company is charging him that much for carpet cleaning, and if we can find a different company.

            He has now said that he is instructing a Debt Recovery Agency on Monday (Which will be 2 weeks after the tenancy ended) if we don't pay the full £175 by then and we are panicking. He has no forwarding address, and no proof that we actually need to pay him the money (because surely only an admittance or a court judgement could prove that?), but I know that some of these companies can be dodgy and I honestly don't know what to do.

            We couldn't pay him by Monday anyway even if we agreed with it - moving house this month has been really expensive, and we don't get paid until the end of the month!

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              #7
              When we moved from our previous property, we had our carpets cleaned as our cat had unfortunately used a section of the carpet as a toilet when he was trapped in the room. We hired a company to clean the carpet, he told us that it would cost a bit more as he would need to use a certain type of shampoo to lift the urine we had been unable to get up by using my Mum's machine.

              That said, he did our large front room and the hallway for £50.

              I think your ex landlord is trying to rip you off.

              In your shoes, I would be tempted to let him run his mouth off, you've said you don't have the money until the end of the month and I would request a receipt for the work done before paying a penny.

              I don't know where you stand legally, it might be worth your while seeking legal advice before doing anything else - I'm sure you can get a half hour free consultation (or maybe that doesn't exist anymore?)
              Last edited by Seventh; 17-11-2011, 15:14 PM. Reason: Fingers typing quicker than the brain was engaging!

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