Bad 'checking out' experience. Harassment?

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    Bad 'checking out' experience. Harassment?

    I will try to keep this concise. I would very much appreciate anybody's input on this.

    Today, my flatmate and I checked out of a flat after having lived there for 11 months (6-month AST then periodic tenancy). This involved our LL coming to the property to inspect it. I felt the flat was in a good state of cleanliness. I had also agreed to sell her a washing machine (in situ) for £110.

    However, when the LL arrived, she was somewhat confrontational. She spent about 90 minutes at the flat with us pointing to skirting boards etc. she felt we hadn't dusted properly, so my flatmate and I rectified these issues as best we could.

    At one point, she began quite a lengthy tirade about small marks on my bedroom curtains, especially when I denied having created them (she was trying to force me to accept responsibility). Luckily I was able to show her on the inventory that they'd been marked when we moved in, but I broke down in tears afterwards because I felt so belittled!

    Unfortunately we allowed the LL access to the property about two weeks ago just after moving the bulk of our things out; at that point it was slightly untidy/in need of a vacuum. She says she took pictures at that time so I am worried she'll claim that was the state of the property when we checked out.

    She also claimed we had made marks on the walls and that she'd need £50 to redecorate. I declined to agree to anything at the time.

    She did not have the money up-front for the washing machine but said she would pay me later. I had come to trust her as an LL but after today I feel she is likely to make unreasonable deductions on the deposit and also that she's likely to withhold payment for my washing machine. She had already haggled the price down by £20.

    I don't really know what constitutes reasonable wear-and-tear, but the property was not newly decorated or well-maintained when we moved in. Kitchen and bathroom very old, paint flaking on window-frames when I tried to clean them, etc. (Apparently I should have done it with a toothbrush).

    I am sure my flatmate and I did not clean the property to a professional standard, but I feel we were decent tenants, and possibly too trusting/polite for our own good. There were minor damages and blemishes etc. when we moved in and I did not notify the LL. I felt she would be reasonable. I am now concerned we're likely to be held account for all manner of things. I am also concerned that my property (washing machine) is in the flat and I won't be recompensed.

    Our deposit is protected, and the flat was let on a 'fully furnished' basis (excluding white goods, which we didn't discover until arrival and had to buy our own).

    I felt harassed today, but I imagine that's irrelevant considering it was check-out day, not 'during' the tenancy.

    #2
    Neither your subjective impression of how she made you feel, nor your perception of how clean you left the property, are relevant.

    What matters (and this will determine how much of your deposit you get back) is

    (i)the hard evidence of what state the flat was in when you moved in, and
    (ii)the hard evidence of what it was like when you moved out. Unless her photos are dated, they will not be valid. If they are dated, you can point out that they were not taken at the very end of the tenancy.

    The onus will be on your LL to prove that you left it dirtier than you found it, or that you damaged things. If she cannot do that, then her claims won't succeed.

    What does the check-in inventory say about the state of cleanliness of the place on Day One and did you agree it?

    If you disagree with the deductions she proposes to claim, simply raise a dispute with the deposit scheme and let their adjudicator decide.

    Her behaviour wasn't harassment, btw, just social dysfunction/lack of professionalism.
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

    Comment


      #3
      Thank you. That makes sense!

      Unfortunately, the inventory lists most things as clean, undamaged. I did annotate it and agree changes during check-in, to mention marks on walls etc., which she agreed (although seems to have forgotten). However, I should have been far fussier and mentioned what I consider to be minor imperfections, I think. I was naive. I feel it will probably go to a dispute.

      What is my position regarding the washing machine? I have a scrappy signed bit of paper she's signed stating that she's agreed to buy it from me for a named price. Of course, I no longer have keys/access to the property. If she refuses to pay, can she keep it? Or could she even charge me for its removal?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Posie View Post
        Thank you. That makes sense!

        Unfortunately, the inventory lists most things as clean, undamaged. I did annotate it and agree changes during check-in, to mention marks on walls etc., which she agreed (although seems to have forgotten). However, I should have been far fussier and mentioned what I consider to be minor imperfections, I think. I was naive. I feel it will probably go to a dispute.
        If your conscience is clear that you left it as as you found it (minus fair wear and tear), I would definitely dispute any cleaning and decorating charges.

        What is my position regarding the washing machine? I have a scrappy signed bit of paper she's signed stating that she's agreed to buy it from me for a named price. Of course, I no longer have keys/access to the property. If she refuses to pay, can she keep it? Or could she even charge me for its removal?
        The washing machine sale is a separate issue from the deposit return, really. The scrap of paper is your evidence that she agreed to buy it and you both know that the machine is still in her property. She owes you for it. if she doesn't pay you, email her a completed moneyclaimonline claim and advise that unless she pays you within seven days you will press send on your claim. The chances are she will cough up without it having to go to court. https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome

        If she tries to claim for its removal via your deposit, supply the adjudicator with a copy of her note.
        'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

        Comment


          #5
          Again, many thanks. I appreciate your clear, concise response to what was probably a somewhat convoluted question!

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Posie View Post
            Again, many thanks. I appreciate your clear, concise response to what was probably a somewhat convoluted question!
            You're welcome.

            I'm still intrigued by the '£50 to decorate', though! (I'm a decorator).
            'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

            Comment


              #7
              Well, this is also a little bit convoluted! She called my flatmate last week and asked for permission to paint the walls; neither me nor my flatmate were still sleeping at the flat but some of our property was still there. My flatmate was anxious about this and didn't give permission; flatmate was worried that paint could end up on the carpet etc and that we'd be held responsible because it was during our tenancy. It was not going to be a professional decorator, just LL's partner.

              LL said today that she wouldn't have charged us had we allowed her to paint during the tenancy because her partner was off work and had time to do it. But now he is busy up until the new tenant moves in. LL stated that as she'd have to pay a painter to paint the hallway, it would cost £50. I have no idea where she got that figure from. English is not her first language and communicating effectively has proved challenging at times.

              Comment


                #8
                Posie, you were stressed not harrassed, T harrassment occurs over several occassions.
                At one point you state the inventory lists condition of most items as good. Did you return copy of your annotated inventory within 7-14 days of T start? Adj may ignore minor blemishes as FW&T, but not if they are due to holes you drilled and later filled/spot painted.
                Did the LL/LA refer to the copy of the extant move in check list for move out inspection?

                I would suggest a flimsy note from LL offering to buy your washing machine is only a promisory note, not an enforceable contract or debt.
                If she does not buy it (& why should she?), it remains your property left in property, which LL is liable to protect, whilst allowing you to reclaim within 2-3 mo of end of T. She is entitled to charge reasonable storage costs for this period. An MCOL claim requires payment of an up-front fee I believe.

                Comment


                  #9
                  No, we kept the annotated inventory. She signed it at the beginning of the tenancy during check-in after I walked round and checked for damage, therefore signing the annotated version, if that makes sense.

                  We didn't do anything like drill holes or add picture hooks. There is what I think is water-marking or condensation-marking on a wall opposite the bathroom door (internal bathroom, poor ventilation). She was furious about that, and also a very small mark on another wall that could be a drop of tea. I probably could have removed it with a wet wipe but she wouldn't let me wipe the wall. This is her reasoning for needing to redecorate. There are other blemish marks that were there prior to us moving in but that I just accepted as a non-professional paint job and didn't note on the inventory.

                  She also claimed that because I had had some crisp crumbs on the floor of my bedroom during the end of the tenancy (hoovered up long before today, obviously) that fat had seeped into the carpet and stained it, but I could see no evidence of a stain.

                  I realise I have been somewhat naive but I thought the relationship with LL was a good one until today. Was it unreasonable of me to expect her to buy the washing machine or is it more the case I was naive by not insisting on up-front payment? I had other offers of purchases but didn't want to move it down several flights of stairs. I regret my decision now!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Sounds like a bully and as with most bullies, the trick to dealing with them is to stand up and confront them. Tell her that you feel she's behaving unacceptably and that you want your deposit back, in full. Any clause in the tenancy contract requiring the property be cleaned to a professional standard is almost certainly an unfair term and therefore void. Tell her that. If she thinks you'll put up a real fight I would think she will back down. If she thinks she can make a quick bit of profit by intimidating you I'm sure she will not hesitate to do so.
                    Disclaimer:

                    The above represents my own opinion, derived from personal knowledge and should not be relied upon as definitive or accurate advice. It is offered free of charge and may contain errors or omissions or be an inaccurate opinion of the law. I accept no liability for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relying on the above.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by bhaal View Post
                      .... Any clause in the tenancy contract requiring the property be cleaned to a professional standard is almost certainly an unfair term and therefore void. Tell her that. ...
                      Indeed: Google oft356 (unfair terms in tenancy agreements) and see on page 48..
                      ** cleaning charges

                      - a requirement to pay for cleaning at the end of the tenancy may be unfair if it is vague or unclear about the basis on which money will be demanded, or the extent of the cleaning involved. Such a term is more likely to be fair if the amount of the charge is expressly limited to reasonable compensation for a failure to take care of the property (see also our views below on excessive charges)....
                      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thank you all again for the advice. I am feeling a bit more confident as a result of it!

                        I called my LA yesterday to clarify whether they held the deposit or my LL did, and it's the LL, so I have to contact her directly to discuss getting paid back to me and my flatmate. I am not looking forward to speaking to her!

                        I don't know which protection scheme my deposit is in (I will find out later; my flatmate has the paperwork). I was wondering if I can expect to receive it within 10 days of the end of the tenancy or is that going to be delayed if there is a dispute?

                        In addition, I still need payment for the washing machine. I think my LL might try to bundle it in with the deposit return but I believe that could lead to problems. I also want paying for it ASAP. What is a reasonable timeframe to ask in terms of receiving my money for that? Obviously if she's not going to pay I am going to have to arrange access to the property to remove the washing machine, and I can imagine that becoming a problem, as a new tenancy is due to commence within a week or so.

                        Sorry if this is rather outside the remit of the forum!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I was wondering if I could seek further advice with an update to my situation.

                          The LL did pay for the washing machine by cheque, which has now cleared.

                          She called me last week and said that she had revisited the property since the end of the tenancy and found that a stain we'd removed from the carpet had reappeared, and that the carpet was only one year old, and she'd be invoicing us for a new one. I said this was not acceptable, when I could get a word in - she was ranting a bit.

                          I have realised that my flatmate and I never received details of our deposit being protected. I asked LL over the phone which scheme it was in and she evaded the question. She said she wanted to deduct £85 for redecoration of the hallway, and further money for the carpet. I said that I wanted it to go to a third-party adjudication because I felt the deductions were unfair. She eventually hung up on me - I wasn't rude, but I was firm.

                          On Friday I received a letter with a cheque. The letter detailed £125 of deductions, and the cheque was for the deposit minus £125. I haven't responded or paid the cheque in, as of yet.

                          The deductions LL wishes to make are £35 for specialist colour paint mixing, £50 for labour (repainting the hall), and £40 for cleaning including carpet-cleaning.

                          If I caused any tenant damage, rather than wear and tear, I'd be happy to pay for it, but I do not trust her to make fair deductions.

                          I would like to know what I should do next. Should I pay in the cheque and then contact her and ask for the rest of it back, saying I disagree with the deductions? Or should I avoid paying in the cheque - would it count as an acceptance of her deductions? Should I demand details of the deposit protection scheme? I don't want to speak to her on the phone again as she is quite rude and aggressive, so should it be by letter? Email?

                          I'm sorry for writing such a long post. I have really appreciated the advice/support I have received so far, and would be grateful for input on how to proceed.

                          Many thanks!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Use the link below to find out if your deposit was protected.

                            There are template letters to send to your landlord.

                            http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_ad...es?src=hpban-s

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Thank you!

                              I have checked the four scheme websites and can find no record of my deposit being protected, but I do wonder if this is because me and my flatmate were joint tenants and some combination of our surnames may have been used to register it, or there may have been a typing error when LL did register it. Unfortunately I don't have a outgoing inventory or photos - will this count against me?

                              I'm also wondering if I can pay in the cheque I have received and then ask her for the remaining £125, or if I should wait until I get a cheque for the whole amount? Money is quite tight for me at the moment so it's tempting to pay it in, but I want to do things the right way!

                              Comment

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