Damaged work-surface; what are "reasonable" repairs?

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  • Damaged work-surface; what are "reasonable" repairs?

    Hi - I was wondering if anyone could tell me to what extent a landlord is allowed to claim for reasonable repairs to the property. My old landlord is trying to take pretty much my whole deposit because of a knife mark on the kitchen surface which I absolutely dispute. I never, ever cut food directly on the surface.
    He apparently wants to pay someone to come in, remove the whole kitchen surface, sand it all down and re-varnish it. Apparently even though the knife mark is small, if just that area is treated, the rest of the surface will look different so it all has to be done. Is this really allowed? Is there anything I can do?

    I feel like my deposit is being used so he can carry out some free improvements and as I paid my deposit before April 2007, it's not protected. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    First and foremost was a full and complete inventory signed before you took possession of the property? If so, did it detail the condition of the work top?


    • #3
      I did sign an inventory yes, but there was nothing about the knife mark(s). I've asked for photos because even when I moved out and went to great pains to make sure everything was how I found it, I didn't see anything wrong with the work surface.


      • #4
        Then I can not see how the LL would be able to prove that you caused the damage ( if there is indeed any damage )

        Send a letter to your ex-LL advising that you require your full deposit to be returned to you within the next 7/10/14 days ( you choose ) and if he does not comply then you will issue a small claims action (www.moneyclaimonline.gov.uk). If you have not response by the end of your given period, then do just that.

        Good Luck. Keep us updated.


        • #5
          Thanks a lot Colin - wasn't really sure what rights I had. My previous landlord charged me a small amount for a cracked tile, which I held my hands up to, but this just seems way OTT. I could probably swallow being charged for a small repair but for the whole surface to be stripped seems ludicrous.

          I'll put something in writing to him and the letting agents and let you know what happens

          Thanks again!


          • #6
            a couple of points spring to mind here.

            1. What does the inventory say about the worktop? In my inventories I would say something like "worktop is in undamaged, unmarked and sound condition". If your invntory says something like this I would argue that you have less of a case if you have signed the document agreeing it to be accurate (but of course the opposite is true)...as always it will hinge on the strength and detail of the inventory

            2. How old is the worktop? Presumably it is still useable in its current state? Your landlord must take these points into account before deducting any money, else it become an issue of betterment
            Last edited by fallenlord; 12-02-2008, 14:49 PM. Reason: missed out something


            • #7
              From knife scratch to replacing the whole worktop

              If you do think it could have been you, offer a contribution maybe of 10-20%??


              • #8
                I know exactly how you feel OP, my ex LL is fleecing me for a new oven and hob as she says my 'cleaning' has been negligent!! The items were brand new but having lived there over 18 months there is obviously wear and tear .. however, she has deducted from my deposit the costs for brand new items and fitting!!! She absolutely wouldn't compromise .... My thread is here if you are interested ...


                • #9
                  Whatever happened to the deposit scheme?


                  • #10
                    Thanks everyone for taking the time to respond.

                    Fallenlord - I've checked the inventory and the exact wording is 'wooden worktop' - that's it, nothing about the condition it was in. I really don't remember seeing any marks either when I left the property, which is why I've requested photos of the damage. I'm angry because I considered myself a good tenant - I looked after the place, left it spotless, never caused any problems and in fact, was more than accomodating when the landlord left me without an oven for 6 weeks. I didn't moan once. That's all beside the point though I guess...

                    Also Fallenlord, the worktop is relatively new - it's absoloutely without doubt still useable.

                    Tori - are you still battling with your landlady? I hope you manage to get some of that back... I'll have a look at your thread in a mo.

                    As for the deposit scheme - my tenancy began at the end of Jan 2007 and the scheme only applies for deposits taken after April. Just my luck eh?

                    I emailed the letting agents and copied in the landlord yesterday, but no response as yet...

                    Thanks again.


                    • #11
                      Hi, yes, only happened this week so the wounds are still fresh ... She'll have a LBA by the end of the week ... from a solictor. Also as I signed a renewal AST in Aug 07. I'm covered by the fact they she should have protected my deposit but didn't!

                      I totally empathise with everything you have said about being a good tenant, leaving the place spotless, always paying rent on time .. no trouble! But apart from witholding my cash, she thought she'd throw a character assassination about me in to the pot as well! She's a nasty women!


                      • #12

                        Hi all...

                        thanks for all your advice.

                        Since last writing I have been liaising with the letting agents who in turn have been liaising with my ex landlord.

                        After a few emails, mostly with me ranting about my rights... I received this:

                        "...I have discussed the points raised in your previous email, regarding the carpets and the worksurface in the kitchen, with your landlord.

                        Your landlord has indicated that if you agree to the deduction of £145 plus vat to get the carpets cleaned, then he will be happy for us to return the balance of your deposit to you."

                        Although I think £145 + VAT is a little steep seen as I cleaned the carpets myself, I grabbed at this with both hands as I had previously been expecting to receive diddley squat and this means I'll be getting a good % of it back.

                        So, I agreed to this in writing and have since been waiting for my cheque.

                        However, today I received a call from the letting agent to say that the landlord has now noticed a couple of other things and wants my deposit held again until he can decide how much more to deduct. That's all I know at the moment, I'm waiting to hear back.

                        My question though is this - as the letting agent sent me that email, asking me to agree to that amount, can the landlord now go back on it and take more money? Surely once this has been agreed that's that? I'm pretty angry as thought it had all been sorted and can't help but think the landlord's gone over the place with a fine-toothed-comb to try and find somewhere else to squeeze money out of me.

                        Any help would be appreciated.

                        Thanks again.


                        • #13
                          Yes, he can. The offer was not supported by consideration, so no contractual obligation was created.
                          See my CONV. FORUM thread re "Contract law- basics" for fuller explanation.
                          JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                          1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                          2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                          3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                          4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).


                          • #14
                            I see.

                            Thanks for your reply Jeffrey. Well, I guess I'll just have to wait and see what they come back to me with this time.



                            • #15
                              I wish it did have to be protected, but I signed a 12-month tenancy agreement before the whole protection of deposits came into force.
                              I think I've won on the worktop - the landlord probably sought his own advice and found out he didn't have a strong case... now I'm worried he's looking for any other way possible to withold my deposit.

                              The inventory I got was pretty basic - listed items but not the condition they were in so I will be using that argument and will definitely be expecting to see all invoices.



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