Worktop damage - where do I stand?

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    Worktop damage - where do I stand?

    Long story short, I have accidentally placed a hot pan (Big mistake!) on the corian kitchen worktop in my rented property which left a faint white ring mark on the surface. My landlord called someone to repair it but apparently the sanding didn't work, and he is now charging me £400 to install a new worktop (£200 worktop, £75 delivery, £75 labour to fix and £50 initial repair attempt).

    I accept that it is my mistake and I am happy to pay for the repair, but does the worktop really need to be replaced completely? I mean the mark is not actually that noticable and as there's no cracks/scratches, it's purely a cosmetic repair no? I was not told beforehand of any charges nor agreed to any (including the £50 initial repair, as usually he gets his maintenance team to do any repairs) and all of a sudden he sent me an e-mail saying someone will come and install a new worktop tomorrow (!) and here are charges blah blah. I disputed against the charges and told him that in the tenancy agreement (it has a section with proposed charges for each damaged item in the flat), the charge to replace the worktop was £250 including labour and VAT, but then he said there's a line saying it all depends on the situation.
    ........what's the point of listing out all these charges then if they aren't accurate at all?

    Also, I am only half way through the tenancy, surely it would only make sense to install a new one (if necessary) towards the end of my tenancy in case I cause any more damages in the mean time? I told him this and he said fine he will cancel the work tomorrow, but that I still have to make the payment within a week or else he would be charging me a late fee. I then told him I will get quotes from companies that repair corian (which I did afterwards, and all of them asked for significantly less than what my LL requested), but he said there's no point as the people he called in were professionals but they couldn't repair it. I am tempted to use one of the companies anyways, with one saying that they should be able to sand the mark off for around £70, or if that doesn't work they would cut a section off and replace that section which would cost around £200 altogether. However, it seems that my LL has already purchased the new worktop and possibly paid the workers too. Where do I stand in this?

    #2
    While I can see both sides of the argument here, as a Landlord I would be wary of a Tenant disputing things in this manner. I mean, you clearly understand you have caused some damage to your Landlord's property, a quite expensive item, and instead of standing up tall and saying "fair cop, I did it, I'll take my medicine" you are doing all you can to wriggle out of the amount he is intending to charge so that he has confidence it will be back to its original level, i.e. replacing it. I think the old saying that a scar is never as good as the original flesh kinda hits home for me here... yes, the worktop can be repaired... but should the Landlord accept this, as it wasn't their fault that this happened, it was entirely your fault (which, to be fair, you completely accept)... and it won't be a good as it was originally.

    Now, if the Landlord was quoting £400 and you knew for sure that the replacement could be obtained and fitted for a lot less than £400, I would be entirely on your side of the argument. At the moment, and being a Landlord, I'm more on the Landlord's side of this, because I'd not be that happy with a repair for damage caused by someone else to things that I own... especially if there was the slightest chance that it was noticeable.

    I also worry that you can't seem to guarantee that you'd not make this same mistake again... I would think a lesson would be learned with this experience ...just joshing with you.

    Lastly, please be careful, as I do not think you are in the position to take it on yourself to engage someone else to do a repair job on the worktop on behalf of your Landlord without his formal consent. I am also not sure if your Landlord can enforce the repair / replacement, and the cost, now. I would think if you can't both agree now, then it would surely come down to your deposit and - potentially - dispute resolution... which may suit you, or may suit him. This jives with your position about it being done at the end of the tenancy... maybe your Landlord is concerned other big mistakes could be made and your deposit won't cover them all? Do you have a reputation for being a bit clumsy and careless? Only you will know.

    If this was a fridge, then it needs repair / replacement with urgency (I have experience)... but a worktop is not something I'd be in any rush to rectify (myself).

    I would probably try to agree (in the interests of maintaining good relationships - if even still desired)...
    • The worktop can be rectified (repair or replace) at the end of the Tenancy (you seem to have done this)
    • The cost for whatever route is taken is not due now, but at the end of the Tenancy (potentially using a portion of your deposit?)
    • If you still can't agree on repair or replacement (nor the associated costs) then take it through the Deposit Scheme's ADR process
    • That you will not unilaterally engage someone else to perform repair without the consent of your Landlord


    Let us know how you get on, and I'm sure others will comment on, possibly, the more legal aspects of the situation.

    I have a Corian worktop in a property, I pretty much thought you could do anything to them and they'd be fine... obviously not.

    Comment


      #3
      You will probably find that many posts following this one do not agree with it*.

      The first thing to do is to take several photos of the damage from different angles so that you have them for future reference.

      "A faint white ring mark" that "is not actually that noticeable" does not justify a new worktop. Whilst the look of something cannot be entirely disregarded what is more important is its function. A worktop with a slight scorch mark is just as serviceable as one free of blemishes. Tell the landlord that he can put a new worktop in if he likes, but that there is no way you are paying for it. Tell him that if he seriously thinks the damage is such that it needs to be replaced he should make a claim on his insurance. If the insurance pays out you will not need to pay; if the insurance does not pay out it is a strong indication that replacement is unnecessary. Tell him that when it comes to the repayment of the deposit if he feels he has a claim he can go to adjudication. It is unlikely he will be awarded more than a nominal(ish) sum.

      *EDIT The immediately preceding post as well!

      Comment


        #4
        Yes, this is the legal - as opposed to the moral - position in my view.

        Comment


          #5
          Yes, it is a moral dilemma before anything else.

          I think T should pay £400 now, not later and, should obtain a letter from L saying that T will not be responsible if the repair/replacement is not as good as the original.

          Some TAs say that T should immediately carry out repairs that are his responsibilities; ipso facto there is no need to wait till the end of tenancy to fix or deduct from Deposit.

          Comment


            #6
            For now, let's not even consider whether the quoted sum is reasonable or not...

            Originally posted by londiner View Post
            I think T should pay £400 now, not later
            There's no way this needs to be repaired now. The tenant's responsibility is to return the property in the same position as when it was handed over (less wear and tear), and the mark is nothing to do with the landlord at this point. The matter should be addressed at the end of the tenancy, and the amount deducted from the damage deposit - at which point the arbitration services can get involved if need be (something which the landlord is no doubt anxious to avoid.

            Some TAs say that T should immediately carry out repairs that are his responsibilities
            Well, we don't know if that's what the OP's agreement states, but even if it does, I would argue that the intention of that clause is to cover a situation where failure to effect a repair results in the damage getting worse and more costly - clearly not the case here.

            Furthermore, consider: how long would a fitted kitchen be expected to last? 20 years, say? Let's assume this one was fitted 5 years ago. That means that if the OP were to stay in the property for 15 years (unlikely I know), then when he leaves, the kitchen would be deemed to be 'worn out' and the OP wouldn't owe a penny towards its replacement, regardless of it's condition. So, to be compelled to pay out all this money now to repair a mark is not reasonable.

            Comment


              #7
              As above - tell the landlord to deduct damages the usual way at the end of tenancy. The landlord is under no obligation to fix this now.

              I don't go around re painting and re flooring my rented house everytime someone puts a mark on the surface.

              Comment


                #8
                As per Eric.
                This might be useful when stating your case;

                http://www.mydeposits.co.uk/sites/de...DR%20Guide.pdf

                In the rare circumstances where damage (to the worktop/carpet/mattress/item etc) is so extensive or
                severe as to affect the achievable rent level or market quality of the property, the most appropriate
                remedy might be replacement and to apportion costs according to the age and useful lifespan of the
                item. An example of how this might be calculated is set out below:
                a) Cost of similar replacement carpet/item - £500.00
                b) Actual age of existing carpet/item - 2 years
                c) Average useful lifespan of that type of carpet/item - 10 years
                d) Residual lifespan of carpet/item calculated as c) less b) - 8 years
                e) Depreciation of value rate calculated as a) divided by c) - £50 per year
                f) Reasonable apportionment cost to tenant calculated as d)times e) - £400.00

                Comment


                  #9
                  Thanks for the replies. Although he agreed to postpone the repair work, I asked to pay at the end of tenancy but he insisted that I must make the payment now and threatened to charge more if I don't. Desperately wanting to avoid further charges, I did pay him in the end (this happened about 2 weeks ago). I do understand that it was my fault and I am ready to pay for my mistake, but the fact that he only informed me the day before installation work is due and how he insisted on receiving the payment right then made me feel like I was forced to accept it.

                  Should I try to consult CAB or Shelter? I'm not trying to deny my responsibilities, but I want to make sure that I am paying a reasonable and fair amount, it really is a lot of money to me.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    He would be in no position to charge any more later. I think you have been bullied into paying now with no good justification. He probably knew that if left to adjudication at the end of the tenancy he would get considerably less or nothing.

                    Yes - I think you should seek further advice.

                    Be aware though if you take action against him now for your money to be returned it is possible he will give you notice. This can't be before the end of the fixed term but if you were planning to remain much longer it may shorten your stay.
                    IANAL (I am not a lawyer). Anything I say here is just an opinion, so should not be relied upon! Always check your facts with a professional who really knows their onions.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I would thank him for his kind offer but politely decline, explaining both of you don't know how long you will stay & if, say, you were to stay for 20 years you would expect the fair damage cost to be significantly less and you will be happy for the deposit scheme adjudicators to rule on the matter when you leave..

                      Nobody knows what the fair, equitable & within-scheme costs should be until you leave the property.

                      Expect, quite possibly, a section 21 notice by return.

                      Cheers!
                      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
                        Originally posted by linic View Post
                        Desperately wanting to avoid further charges, I did pay him in the end (this happened about 2 weeks ago).(
                        linic - I certainly thought you were asking what you should do, but are you implying you have paid £400 already and are now wondering if you have recourse?

                        The relationship between Tenant and Landlord can only go downhill from here if so. This may be something you care deeply about, or not at all. I do not like the sound of bullying when I hear it, regardless of who was in the right or wrong regarding the original issue - damage to the worktop. Saying to someone "it will cost £400 to replace" is kinda fine, but not "there will be further charges added unless it's done now", no - not fine at all. That is threatening and it should be fought all the time. I would be taking my sweet time to find another place, with a less pushy Landlord, and this time try to get granite worktops instead of crappy(!) Corian.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Yes, I totally agree with the Hippo. Bit of a different ball game now, considering that you've already unfortunately handed over this money...

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Ericthelobster,

                            Legally there is no need for the repair to the tabletop to be done immediately if the tabletop is still funcional. You are also right when saying that even if a clause demands that T should repair the tabletop now that T is not really under a legal obligation to do so if the tabletop is still funcional. However an honourable T will willingly pay now as T entered into "a gentleman's agreement" by agreeing to a clause that no law can enforce. The old days when our grandfathers used to seal a business deal with a handshake are long gone.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              You are missing the point Londiner, by paying the amount requested now rather than at the end of the tenancy the landlord has gained an unfair profit, (IMO). In fact, now that he's been paid there is absolutely no reason at all for the landlord to even repair the worktop after the tenant has gone, I doubt the slight damage would affect the rentability of the property.
                              I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg

                              Comment

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