Tenant: Difficulties with ex landlady - any advice?

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    Tenant: Difficulties with ex landlady - any advice?

    Apologies this is lengthy! Advice or comments all accepted greatfully.

    email from landlady:
    "After a frustrating few days trying to sort out keys for the flat, the situation is as follows:

    (1) The inventory company made an abortive visit to the flat last Wednesday with the only set of keys that were dropped off to {Mod - name removed} on 14th November. It turned out that these keys were not a full set; the key to the bottom of the two locks on the main flat door (which you replaced) was not the correct one, so the inspection could not be done.

    (2) {Mod - names removed} and I have spent some considerable time over the last few days sorting out which keys fit and which do not. The final situation is that we now have 2 full sets of keys, 1 which {Mod - name removed} was using and 1 which was in the set you dropped off to {Mod - name removed} on Friday evening (23rd). When you first took on the flat, there were 4 sets of viable keys, 2 for you and {Mod - name removed}, 1 for me and one for {Mod - name removed}. We need to get back to this situation quickly.

    (3) It is likely that, in order to rectify the situation we will need to change the bottom lock on the flat door, as {Mod - name removed} has had tried to have new keys cut and has been informed that, as they are security keys, we will need to contact the people who originall installed the door. Clearly, this is not our responsibility. You had the door changed after you damaged it. It's down to the tenants to ensure that all keys are viable when the flat is given up. I am reliably informed that until the keys are fully restored, I would be entitled to continue to charge rent on the property.

    Like yourselves, I am far too busy to have this situation continue, so you have 2 choices;

    (a) contact the company who originally installed the door, get 2 new keys cut and give them to {Mod - name removed}, together with a signed statement that I am the owner of the flat and therefore entitled to have future keys cut

    (b) I will arrange for the locks to be changed and add it to the deductions for the deposit

    The inventory company may also bill us for the abortive visit. {Mod - name removed} may also charge for the time that she has spent trying to sort out the keys.

    This has put us all behind schedule for sorting out the return of the balance of the deposit. I will advise you when the inventory people can return, however, as we discussed on the day I visited the flat, there are clearly items (notably a broken cooker switch, damage to the fridge interior shelves, water damage to the bathroom skirting board and wall and damage to one of the kitchen doors and a stain on the carpet in the master bedroom which will need to be assessed by tradesmen. I am also informed by {Mod - name removed} that the freezer was severely frosted up and the kettle was so thick with scale that it was malfunctioning. Both of these are due to lack of proper maintenance of the appliances during your tenancy. I will wait until the inventory inspection been done and provide you with a full copy of the report, together with an assessement of the cost of the remedial works.

    All in this is rather a disapppointing conclusion to what up until now had been a relatively smooth tenancy.

    Please let me know what you wish to do about the keys."
    -end of email.

    The landlady had 4 sets of keys at the start, and a year or 2 into the 3 and a half years we have been in the flat, my boyfriend came home drunk one night and had lost his keys, and broke the door down. As it was a flat, we had the door replaced with one that matched those in the building. This meant a new lock on the door also, which was a security lock. We managed to get a copy made of the security key for the cleaner our land lady employs. Later we were then asked to get 2 extra copies to make up the full four sets of keys. We did get the copies made, but never tried them in the lock. Having just moved out (2 weeks prior to the end of the tenancy) we handed over our main set of keys to the landlady. The cleaner also had a full set, which also included a key for new locks installed by the management company for the building. We were only given two copies for this new lock, and didn’t feel it was up to us to have extra copies made when the changing of the building doors was not anything to do with us.
    We gave the other copy to the letting agent that will seek new tenant for the flat, along with the copies of the security key and the regular Yale key for the main door to the flat. It turns out those copies of the security key do not work, and so the person due to carry out the inventory was not able to get access to the flat.

    We are disappointed that the land lady having been reasonably amicable during our long tenancy has now gone on the attack and basically threatened to charge us extra rent until the full sets of keys are restored.

    I don’t see any reason why she should try and get more money out of us over a small issue such as this. She does have after all two full sets of working keys and could have arranged for the cleaner to meet the person doing the inventory. Also the issue the cleaner had in trying to get copies made of her key, I am guessing she told them she was not the land lady and was in fact only the cleaner, hence they told her they could not make a copy of the security key. We as mere tenants had no such difficulty getting copies made.

    She mentions a few items of damage in the flat. The door tray in the fridge is damaged and we will happily bear any cost of replacing it. A cupboard door in the kitchen has a chip of the veneer come off. Again we are happy to bear the cost of repair or indeed replacement. Marks to the carpet, it is my feeling that in the almost 4 yrs it is reasonable to expect a bit of wear and tear. But again we will happily bear the cost of having the carpets cleaned throughout. The knob is broken on the cooker, an accident I believe I knocked it with a heavy pan and a small chunk of the edge of the plastic knob broke off. Again we are happy to pay for a replacement.
    However, I take issue with her threatening to charge us extra rent and indeed for the cleaner’s time which she suggests she may bill us for, or indeed the failed inventory. Having lived in her flat for around 45 months in total, we have paid her around £36,000 in rent over this time. Not once in that time has she had any maintenance carried out, nor any gas safety check or electrical safety checks. She mentions the poor condition of the kettle. It is my recollection that her kettle was caked in lime scale when we first moved in, and we immediately went out and purchased our own kettle and toaster. It is a hard water area! Hers sat in the cupboard unused for 3 and half years.

    What is the point of all this, well I want some advice really. I never wished to fall out with her, but she has taken a stance by threatening to deduct extra costs from our rent. And so I am sorely tempted to go back to her and say “there is no need for us to end things badly, but if you wish to remain on your current course of action, then I will have to take action regarding the fact you have not once had a gas safety check carried out during our tenancy. “

    What should I do? How should I word it?
    I don’t want the agro really, but I think she is being somewhat unfair considering she has basically sat back through over 3 years and raked in the rent money and not lifted a finger. Now she’s acting all put out over a couple of sets of keys.
    My partner has since replied to her that we will indeed pay to have the locks changed and for the four keys to be made up for the new lock, as he felt it was easier than messing around with keys to try and get the right copies made up.

    #2
    Which scheme is your deposit protected in?

    Comment


      #3
      Your partner has already agreed to the lock change and for four keys to be provided for the new lock. The landlord should be happy with that. Bottom line is that you were given 4 keys for keys for the door, you broke it, you should have supplied 4 keys to the landlord at the end of the tenancy; its not upto the landlord to check to see if the keys fitted, you should have done that at the time. When a locksmith says 'owner' he means the owner of the lock, the person who commissioned it to be fitted; that was you, now its the landlord.

      The landlord had keys but simply didn't have the right number of keys for the door you replaced, she can't charge you more rent.

      The inventory clerk wasn't to know that the keys you had handed over didn't fit, why should they lose out?

      I would expect a tenant to clean carpets at the end of the tenancy if the agreement allows for it.

      If the kettle was firred up and you didn't use it did you tell anyone? did you mark it on the inventory? if you didn't tell them you were going to store it, or that it was firred up when you arrived in the property, then its a fair assumption that the tenant has done it.

      Have you mentioned the lack of a gas safety previously? one would assume you wouldn't have put the lives of you and your partner at risk for almost 4 years without saying something?

      If the landlord forgot to carry out gas safety, is it possible they may have forgotten to protect your deposit?
      My advice is not based on formal legal training but experience gained in 20+ years in the letting industry.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by oaktree View Post
        Have you mentioned the lack of a gas safety previously? one would assume you wouldn't have put the lives of you and your partner at risk for almost 4 years without saying something?

        If the landlord forgot to carry out gas safety, is it possible they may have forgotten to protect your deposit?

        I'll be honest, we havent ever mentioned the lack of gas safety check, as to be honest it had never even occurred to me that it hadn't been done. It was only when we were cleaning the flat before we left, and I was giving the oven a thorough clean, I noticed one of those green stickers with the date on from 2009 saying the next check was due in 2010.
        I don't know for absolute fact that she didn't have someone come and do the check, but if she did, she didn't advise us anyone was coming to do it, and it would have to have been while we were out.

        Don't misunderstand me, I am quite willing to overlook it as an oversight on her part and an innocent mistake. I don't wish to get nasty and try and cause problems for her. I'm sure it is difficult being a LL when you are away from the area all the time. She only has the one property, which I understand she purchased and lived in before then relocating with her job.

        However I feel a little agrieved that she is taking a harsh stance with us, so if I need to I feel I may have to use this against her.

        At the end of the day, it is the LL's responsibility to get the safety check done. And not down to us to remember and remind her.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by daveg View Post
          Which scheme is your deposit protected in?
          Hi,
          I'm not sure! My boyfriend applied for the return of the deposit, so I'll ask him what it was. Why do you ask?

          Comment


            #6
            If your deposit wasnt protected, when it should have been, and if you were not provided with full details of the scheme used you have far more leverage with the LL to get the deposit back.

            As oaktree said "If the landlord forgot to carry out gas safety, is it possible they may have forgotten to protect your deposit?" That and the tone of the email made me wonder.

            Comment


              #7
              I reported my landlady to the HSE for only doing two gas checks in the 8 1/2 years we lived there. I didnt know that it was a legal requirement until looking at new properties.

              However all they require is one current certificate. So your landlord can get one as soon as the HSE contact them to say they are going to investigate, and they are more than happy at that. And dont need any past certificates.

              Comment


                #8
                The deposit is definately protected. We have already applied to have it returned and LL has done same.
                Maybe you would also know. What if there is dispute over anything she claims for out of the deposit. Would one or both parties have to have evidence to back up their claim? In other words we would have had to take photos on entering the tenancy of anything we thought to be amiss? Is that right? Does she have to prove what she is claiming for with invoices or quotes for any work to be done?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by willygogs View Post
                  I reported my landlady to the HSE for only doing two gas checks in the 8 1/2 years we lived there. I didnt know that it was a legal requirement until looking at new properties.

                  However all they require is one current certificate. So your landlord can get one as soon as the HSE contact them to say they are going to investigate, and they are more than happy at that. And dont need any past certificates.
                  I feared that may be the case and that if I mention it she will just get one done! If thats all it takes to get off the hook, then I guess I dont have any negotiating power here.
                  I guess in this case we will just have to suck up whatever she throws at us.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    You should have been supplied a pack of information about the deposit protection scheme which tells you about how it works.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by daveg View Post
                      You should have been supplied a pack of information about the deposit protection scheme which tells you about how it works.
                      Yes, I'm sure we have that at home somewhere filed away. I will have a look this evening.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thanks for the helpful comments and advice all.

                        I fear it is probably in our best interests to try and just accept whatever costs she claims.. and then report her to HSE afterwards. If we mention it beforehand I suspect she will make sure to charge us the extra rent she talks about and anything else she can think of.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Only accept the deductions you agree with. Any expenses you do not agree with will be decided by the deposit scheme adjudicator and the onus will be on the LL to show that eg the kettle was not full of limescale at the start of the tenancy.

                          Comment

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