To think the Landlord is taking the piss?

(100 Posts)
Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 12:39:12

We recently moved out of a rented property. We have been in the property for 4 years.

When we moved in, the place was disgusting. The previous tenants smoked, the carpets, furniture, beds, even the walls stank of smoke. There was dirty, mouldy food in the cupboards. The fridge and freezer were filthy. The walls were creamy yellow stained. The rugs were unusable, so dirty and smelled horrific. The kitchen equipment was foul - greasy, dirty, marked/stained, chipped. The mattress was stained, had burn holes in it and was mouldy. Basically the place was not habitable as it was.

We spent £400 on new kitchen goods and a mattress, and spent 3 days airing and cleaning the property before we could stay there. I wasn't happy with the smoke smell and wouldn't let DS stay until it was much less noticeable (it didn't 'go' for months, really).

We put all the mentioned items above in storage. After a few months, the LL came round and we showed her everything, she told us to bin it all, bar the rugs which she wanted back. We arranged this, no problems.

Every 6 months, we had an inspection. Never any problems, in fact the inspectors often commented on how clean and tidy we kept the property. Once they recommended that the property could do with a redecoration as the walls etc were still stained. This never happened.

We moved out a few months ago, after giving our notice as required. We even found a new tenant to move in, and helped the agents out with this process.

We applied for our deposit back, as it was being held with a protection scheme.

We have been told the LL has asked to hold the entire amount, for the following reasons:

End of tenancy clean.
Handyman charge to reinstate the door closers and wardrobe handles. (these handles were not on the wardrobe when we moved in - they were inside it! We never moved them, we never used them).
Missing/damaged items - Cutlery/Utensils/Chopping Boards/Iron/Bedding. (as explained above. Plus, there was an iron there.
Replacement bed due to damaged slats. (two of the slats are damaged. We can't prove this wasn't us, but we don't know of it happening, IYSWIM. Would be happy to pay this if it is our fault.

I am absolutely gutted. We have been great tenants, never missed a rent payment, never caused any damage, repainted the hall ourselves (same colour), really looked after the outside area and never once had a problem.

They've said they have lost the inventory from when we moved in. They've also lost the 6 monthly inspection reports.

They claim to took nine hours to clean the 2 bedroom flat when we moved out. We did a good, thorough cleaning of the flat, the new tenant moved in and was totally happy with it. They've claimed they had to have this done (though didn't do it for us when we moved in)

Incidentally - I asked for the invoices for the cleaning and handyman. Both came from the letting agents 'sister' cleaning and maintenance companies, of the same name hmm

I can't believe the LL is doing this to us. Without this money, we don't have anything available to pay a deposit on a new property.

sad

Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:10:19

It's a big, well known letting agents.

Joysmum Thu 23-Jan-14 13:10:55

Another LL here.

The onus is on the LL to prove this happened since you moved in. This means they have to have a detailed and signed inventory (and pref photos and vid included as well) without this, there's nothing they can do.

Do the good news is that you'll get your money back, the back news is that they can delay the process and you'll need to wait to get your deposit back.

Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:10:58

Is the onus on them or us to provide the inventory etc?

And the inspection reports, they claim they don't have these?

Quinteszilla Thu 23-Jan-14 13:13:25

If the deposit were put in a scheme, the deposit scheme would have written to you separately with details of the scheme.

It is illegal not to place deposits in a scheme. They may have to pay YOU damages.

If I were you I would repost this in Legal, as there are people there with knowledge of what to do.

marzipanned Thu 23-Jan-14 13:14:47

The cleaning charge is completely insane.

Write a letter formally outlining all these points and your responses. Threaten legal and press action (latter relevant if they are big and well known. Naming and shaming on twitter, FB, etc sometimes seems effective, though no personal experience at all. I'm also thinking of those complaints threads you get on here where people have taken grievances to the CEO and got a positive response)

Unfortunately none of this helps you get your money back to secure the next tenancy, but I am sure that you will be able to get it back eventually.

tobiasfunke Thu 23-Jan-14 13:16:50

Loads of landlords try this sort of stuff on. Friend of ours got £600 taken off them for a 'faulty' seal on a fridge door- which meant that the landlord claimed for a new fridge. There was nothing wrong with the door and the fridge had been removed when they enquired. They took the landlord to the small claims and won.
The cleaning thing is usually a scam too. My sister got her deposit taken off her for not window cleaning- which they couldn't do as there was scaffolding outside the building for the full year they lived there.

I also agree if they didn't have a damage report or an inventory before you moved in they can't prove that you did any of these things. I would threaten legal proceedings if they carry on.

Unfortunately you are unlikely to get your money any time soon.

DolomitesDonkey Thu 23-Jan-14 13:18:08

Hahaha fucking chancers! You must only pay against original inventory and as for her sister... Quiet word to hmrc?

PirateJelly Thu 23-Jan-14 13:18:17

They are the ones claiming theres a problem so it's upti them to prove it.

Also regards getting a deposit in time for this new property. Goggle Housing Advice services in your area. I appreciate this may not be the case everywhere and is dependent upon local funds but my local Housing Advice Team does a bond and deposit scheme where they will lend you the money (although they usually pay it direct to the new letting agent/landlord) and then you pay it back at a small amount per week, usually interest free. If you have something like that in your area then they will give you advice on the matter, act on your behalf and also lend you the bond etc. I appreciate not all areas have this but I've lived in 3 different places and all had similar schemes, so definately worth a quick google/asking around.

Good luck smile

tobiasfunke Thu 23-Jan-14 13:18:46

Do you have any emails or texts or letters showing that they have arranged the inspections etc. Are they claiming they didn't do the inspections or just don't have the reports?

Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:19:07

The deposit was put in a scheme, though we were halfway through our tenancy when this was done, and the agents had already taken some of it off, I think because the washing machine broke down once and we were liable.

I wondered about the cleaning charge. It seems absurd - is this normal?

My argument is that this didn't happen when we moved in, and also that we did clean the property, but obviously not to a 'professional' standard - we are normal people not professional cleaners!

Joysmum Thu 23-Jan-14 13:20:25

They need to provide the documentary evidence. They need to prove their claim.

Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:23:39

No, they would normally write to us to let us know when they'd be coming to do an inspection, I never kept the letters.

They have sent me 2 copies of 2 inspection reports. But in total we had 9 done.

Both the ones they have sent say there are no issues and the condition of the property is excellent, but are from 2011.

To clarify the 'sister' thing - it's not the LL sister, its a 'sister' company of the agents.

So, say the agents are called 'Mumsnet Lettings'. The cleaners were called 'Mumnset Cleaning Services' and the handyman was 'Mumsnet Maintenance'.

I queried this, and the email response says:

With regards to the work, the job was passed to our sister company Mumsnet Maintenance who carried out the work and invoiced accordingly.

rallytog1 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:26:41

Call their bluff and take it to arbitration. They can't take any money out of your deposit without your consent, unless arbitration decides otherwise, so it will be protected until the outcome is known.

I'm a LL and also work in an allied profession, and it's frightening how many agents are now trying this sort of thing on with tenants. They're banking on you not knowing your rights, so if you're prepared to let it go to arbitration, then you may well find they back down more easily than you would imagine.

In the meantime, do you have s family member who could lend you the money until you get it back?

Quinteszilla Thu 23-Jan-14 13:30:00

If the agency is successful in getting a claim towards the deposit on behalf of the landlords, they will get a commission of the amount. So, if the landlord gets £1000 back, they will get £200 commission. That is what my large green and yellow agent explained to me, regards my own tenants. The agent will therefore be very keen to aid the landlord in this. They also get a cut on maintenance and repairs too, so if the property was managed, they will not only get a fee from the landlord, but they will fleece him for all the repairs. Grr. I am not too keen on lettings agents.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 23-Jan-14 13:30:39

You have had really good advice on this thread. I have experience of this from a LL perspective and I had to show:

Inventory
Leases
Inspection reports
Time stamped photos of damage
All correspondence
Check out form signed by tenant
Invoices for remedial work

Where I didn't have evidence, I couldn't claim.

Just checking - are you absolutely sure they have actually protected your deposit? You should have received full details of the scheme when you moved in.

As Joysmum said, you should be confident of getting your money back if you hold your nerve, but it will take time. Can you take out an overdraft / short loan in the meantime?

Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:32:08

Yeah, we do. Both sets of parents are reasonably wealthy, but we loathe asking them for money.

We are, and always have been, self sufficient. DH studied for 6 years at uni, and then couldn't get a job in his field and has had to retrain. We don't earn a huge amount but we earn enough to have a reasonable life, and we don't like asking for help. It's a bit complicated and I won't bore you but suffice to say, it's grudged and judged when it is given.

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 23-Jan-14 13:32:09

The deposit was put in a scheme, though we were halfway through our tenancy when this was done, and the agents had already taken some of it off, I think because the washing machine broke down once and we were liable.

I've just seen this - this is illegal - point this out and remind them you could claim for 3 x the deposit because of this.

Quinteszilla Thu 23-Jan-14 13:34:56

We were also recently renting, and the landlord/agent was keen to claim off the deposit.

They were referring to lots of picture hooks on the walls, the walls had been drilled into, the place was not professionally cleaned, etc.

We showed them their own marketing of the property from before we moved in, complete with picture hooks, a flat screen tv mounted on the wall, etc. In addition we had an inventory from the landlord (he wanted to do the check in himself without the agency) and he had scribbled on it "picture hooks on walls, damage to walls, property not professionally cleaned". Clearly he had forgotten.

We sent this piece of paper, along with the estate agents marketing, on to the arbitration, and we got our deposit back in full.

HollyBrrr Thu 23-Jan-14 13:37:02

I really feel for you OP. My parents had similar problems with their landlords a few years ago, but they got the money back eventually - it just takes a bit of a slog which of course is the last thing most people need when they're undergoing the stress of moving.

Have to say, you've been luckier than my DH and I: we have a dog so offered to pay a larger deposit (around £2500 - nearly all our savings) so secure a place. Before we could get proof of the deposit scheme the ll had gone bankrupt and stolen our entire deposit. Now we can't track them down and are now in a really uncomfortable position with the bank that has taken over the flat and is asking about the deposit. Eek!

Wishing you all the best for the fight ahead cake

Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:41:01

Unexpected - I don't think the lettings protection scheme existed when we moved in.

When they sent us the letter to say they now had to give the money to the LPS, they wrote the total on it. We paid £1400 deposit when we moved in, and the total given to the LPS was £1050, because of a washing machine repair cost.

Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 13:41:58

Quint I wish we had pictures from when we moved in.

The worst thing was, we did take pictures, stored them on our laptop which died a few years ago and we lost everything on it.

Weegiemum Thu 23-Jan-14 13:54:07

It isn't an agency that's found widely over the whole Country by any chance?

We made the mistake of using them and renting via them for just over 5 years. They claimed, at the end (having had NO proper maintenance for most of our tenancy) to have sent the deposit back to the LL who was overseas.

When we got our solicitor to write (letter:£30) a cheque was in the post the following day. Bastards.

Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 14:00:24

No, it isn't.

I am trying to think of something equally intelligent... um.. it's a company who might like to go to the bonny bonny banks...

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 23-Jan-14 14:15:59

It's sounds dodgy practice to deduct an amount from the deposit before protecting it.

Have a look at this and see if they have failed to comply with any of it.

3. DATE FOR COMPLYING WITH THE REGULATIONS

When will landlords need to comply with the regulations?

Deposit received prior to 7 March 2011 and tenancy renewed by express agreement or on tacit relocation on or after 2 October 2012 and before 2 April 2013

Within 30 working days of renewal

4. DUTY TO PROVIDE INFORMATION

What information must a landlord give to a tenant?

Under Regulation 42 of the 2011 Act you must provide your tenant with information about the following:

your landlord registration status
confirmation of receipt of the deposit
confirmation of the date it was paid to an approved scheme
the name and contact details for the scheme holding the deposit
the address to which the deposit relates
the reasons why part or all of the deposit might be withheld at the end of the tenancy, with reference to the tenancy agreement
The information must be provided within the timescales indicated under Section 3 Date for complying with the regulations.

Juno77 Thu 23-Jan-14 14:22:51

We moved in in 2010, so that was before this came into force?

They did send us a letter about the fact the deposit would now be held with LPS. The amount they said they were sending was less than we paid, but they said this was due to the repairs carried out prior.

I can't remember if they provided all that information, but nothing stands out as missing...

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