AIBU to dispute proposed deductions from tenant deposit?

(25 Posts)
T3nant Fri 10-Jun-16 22:04:13

Hello! I’ve been lurking for the past month and have an AIBU of my own. I’m new to this and will try not to drip feed. Brace yourselves for a slightly long post.

I’ve been renting a property with another tenant for 18 months and have recently vacated the property. This has been my second time renting privately and I have never had any issues.

The individual I was renting with slept in the second bedroom (north facing). The room is wallpapered and has had an additional layer (or two) that was added by the previous tenant who didn’t finish it very well and left overlaps – same issue with first bedroom (I am brining this up because I’m not sure if the tenant was hiding a previous mould issue). The landlord commented on this – amongst other small details - before we moved in. All of the upstairs window sills had been replaced from wood to PVC as I understand these became warped (presumably through damp).

We have been leaving the window vent open to ensure the room was properly ventilated to avoid condensation. There had been spots of mould appearing on the ceiling of the second bedroom, but we managed to clean these off without any issues – this has not happened anywhere else in the house. Unfortunately, when removing the furniture (moving out) we discovered a build-up of black mould in the corner of the exterior wall, where the wardrobe had been. I’d like to note that the other tenant worked stressful hours and was very untidy, leaving piles of clothes across the floor and plates of food/drink in the room for days at a time – not sure if this would cause mould.

Anyway, we brought this to the attention of the letting agent and tried two or three different methods to try and remove it. This was not possible and it was clear that the mould was both underneath the paper and on top. This was one week before we moved out and we left it with the letting agent and landlord to resolve as we didn’t want to worsen the situation. Understandably the landlord was not pleased with this and has brought it up with us along with a few other issues as “omg, what the hell has happened” including:-

- Yellow stain (two droplets) on vinyl – really not sure what has caused this but accept it occurred during our tenancy.

- Complaint that we have not been ventilating room or drying clothes in here, neither of which is the case.

- Carpets had not been shampooed and this was apparently something we were supposed to do – I don’t recall the conversation or see it in our contract.

- Windows have not been cleaned inside or outside – this was done before we left and overseen by my DM who is very thorough.

Moving forward, the other tenant has had the bill through and we briefly discussed it today. I haven’t seen the full breakdown but understand the landlord wants to claim the majority of the deposit. They want £50+ towards the vinyl floor and £200+ towards various resources (sugar wash, primer/sealer, emulsion for walls/roof – carried out by professional painters) and removal of wallpaper to find cause of damp patches. There’s also something for coats of gloss on woodwork but I don’t know what this relates to and sounds more like maintenance that we shouldn’t be held accountable for. Apparently someone has examined the outside and roof to say it was fine and the painter suggested it was internal mould.

We’ll be going back to the landlord and querying these prices, but would really appreciate a second opinion. It seems a lot for a couple of spots on the vinyl floor and also for a mould issue that may have been covered up by the previous tenant – is this possible? When we suggested this might be the case the landlord didn’t get back to us.

I accept if IABU and understand the perspective of the landlord but just want to ensure we’re not being overcharged or made to pay for an underlying problem.

BluePitchFork Fri 10-Jun-16 22:09:02

yanbu
dispute it

T3nant Fri 10-Jun-16 22:09:41

Reconsidering if I should have included so much information about vinyl etc, really don't want to out myself, but just wanted to be honest and looking for advice. sad

BombadierFritz Fri 10-Jun-16 22:13:02

Definitely dispute. It is an easy process.

EveryoneElsie Fri 10-Jun-16 22:15:44

YANBU. I dont think its reasonable to expect tenants to move heavy items of furniture to check behind them for mould.
It sounds like the LL wants to keep the money.

A certain amount of normal wear and tear is expected and allowed.

junebirthdaygirl Fri 10-Jun-16 22:17:25

No way is the mould your fault. He should not have been renting such a shoddy property. Fight this.

Fairuza Fri 10-Jun-16 22:24:22

Definitely dispute it.

I have had to go through the arbitration process and had the whole deposit awarded to me (landlord wanted to keep whole deposit!).

Hackedabove Fri 10-Jun-16 22:25:45

My tenants never opened the windows and dried their clothes in the bathroom with the fan on. Despite a letter asking them to ventilate the fault in 5 years they never did. The black on the walls when they moved our was appalling. I was selling so just redecorated, it was difficult enough for to get them to pay for the garden to be sorted out (they thought having tidied the garden the previous year was adequate).

Both sides have to agree to the deductions so if you feel it's too much dispute it.

ScrewyMcScrewup Fri 10-Jun-16 23:13:00

You have nothing to lose by disputing.

MissWimpyDimple Fri 10-Jun-16 23:23:56

Yes dispute the redecs. The vinyl you may have to pay, but the redecs are not your responsibility unless you actually did something to the decor.

Ask the agency to release all the undisputed funds and then tell them that you will accept the vinyl but not the damp works.

The deposit registration scheme will assess your dispute and will probably find in your favour.

19lottie82 Fri 10-Jun-16 23:50:43

What does your inventory say about the condition of the property when you moved in? Any damage that was already there should be listed?

If you don't have an inventory then the LL can't claim back any deductions, as they have no proof that the flat was in a worse condition when you handed it back.

19lottie82 Fri 10-Jun-16 23:52:33

Do you have evidence that you contacted the LA to report the mould?

T3nant Sat 11-Jun-16 12:28:33

Thank you all very much for the feedback - it's much appreciated and great to have feedback from both sides. We will be disputing this.

19lottie82 When we signed the contract I don't think we were supplied with an inventory or a house report, both of which were provided in my previous tenancy. I'm sure I queried it at the time, but as it's a small community and we know the landlord outside of this agreement I didn't push for one. Will double check with other tenant/LA.

I'll need to find out how the other tenant reported the mould as I have a feeling they phoned it in (I wasn't present). Will double check this as I realise they should've put this forward in writing.

Janecc Sat 11-Jun-16 13:20:08

Is the deposit lodged with the tenancy deposit scheme? Legally it must be if you are on a shorthold tenancy agreement. And they would help you with this kind of dispute.

If there was no inventory provided, the landlord cannot prove the state the property was in and I imagine you would be entitled a full refund of your deposit.

Regardless of whether the carpets were professionally cleaned or not before you moved in, if they in a reasonable state when you exit, you don't have to clean them unless stipulated in the contract. As you have no inventory, there is no proof of the state of the carpets. Ditto the Windows and any other cleaning/damage issues.

I would definitely get some advice from the citizens advice bureau. A landlord can be fined for not putting your deposit in a scheme.

Janecc Sat 11-Jun-16 13:22:02

You cannot have caused a massive mound build up in 18 months. It just simply isn't possible.

T3nant Sat 11-Jun-16 13:54:55

Janecc Sorry I should've stated that our deposit is infact being held by a protection scheme so we're fine in that respect.

We were as thorough as possible in respect to cleaning and left the house in a respectable condition. My DM is meticulous and did go over again to ensure it was an acceptable standard. Of course small things were missed like the window tracks but not worried about that.

Again the main issue we're having is the mould. This was not visible when we moved in but clearly there have been problems as per OP where the window sills were replaced with PVC. If we wanted to redecorate we could have (with notice) but I don't see the point of investing when renting.

It has only been the second bedroom (north facing) that has had problems with mould - the rest of the house is fine.

caroldecker Sat 11-Jun-16 14:27:02

Mould is not your responsibility unless he can prove you caused it deliberately. Just dispute and you will get your money back.

Fairuza Sat 11-Jun-16 14:30:42

We basically got our whole deposit back because the landlord didn't do an inspection and signed inventory with photos when we moved in and not until after we moved out. So he couldn't prove anything.

Ningnoise Sat 11-Jun-16 14:49:03

Yes, appeal it! We are in the later stages with ours now and a decision will be made next week. It has taken three months which is frustrating but in the meantime the landlord/letting agent in theory has to release the rest of the deposit.

I say in theory as they could play nasty and decide to dispute the lot and we learnt that they don't actually have to use the arbitration scheme meaning that you would have to go to the small claims court to get the money back! Luckily this didn't happen with ours although the agent did wait right until deadlines to submit evidence, refund things, e.t.c... It was very frustrating given they had £1,350 of our money that wasn't disputed and only £300 was!

If you have any questions or want advice based on our recent experience you are welcome to DM me.

jaffajiffy Sat 11-Jun-16 14:57:14

I'm a landlord and we had to pay loads to sort out mould at the flat. The tenants did nothing to ventilate and dried clothes on radiators and everything else but it's still the landlord's problem. As pp said too without an inventory the landlord can't prove it wasn't already there. It's not your problem to sort though. Definitely dispute.

Janecc Sat 11-Jun-16 15:02:19

You really need to establish if you had an inventory or not.

As a landlady, I have been told that if the state of something is not listed and is subsequently damaged or left dirty, I can do nothing about it. Assuming no inventory, I would have though you automatically get your full deposit back. I don't know the legality of this, which is why I said to contact the cab.

Shelter has a tenancy deposit scheme page with useful information and templates for letters in such disputes.

Any verbal agreement regarding carpet cleaning is non binding.

If you had no inventory, there is no proof either way of wear and tear. Again full deposit return I imagine would be the only way forward.

There is no way you can have created a massive mould issue in 18 months.

Mould is a very difficult issue. I had tenants, who created mould because of overcrowding. She, her mother, 2 children, friend and a baby were in a 2 bed. (Contractually only she and 2 children should have been there). I simply cleaned mould and redecorated as I didn't want the dispute. She'd always paid on time and stayed for maybe 3 years.

This landlord really does seem to be really unfair to you and I would fight it.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sat 11-Jun-16 15:03:44

No inventory? Your landlord has no hope of getting a penny.

If the mould was behind a wardrobe and nowhere else that suggests the wall is damp, not an issue with poor ventilation. But of course I'm not a painter (wtaf??!!) so no expert wink

Janecc Sat 11-Jun-16 15:13:25

Really Ningnoise that's awful. I thought the ll had 30 days. That's what I've always been told as a ll. I've never had to really claim much as managed through an agent. That's disgusting. No wonder private landlords have such a bad name on this site.

And £50+ seems really a joke for a couple of dots on the vinyl. I seem to remember the agent asking tenants for £30 compensation for a brown burn mark in the carpet in the shape of an iron a couple of years ago. And the dots surely would be wear and tear anyway. Vinyl gets stained. I wouldn't be charging for that. Rips, yes unless the vinyl has come unstuck and ripped when the tenant removed a washing machine or if the vinyl is old.

T3nant Sat 11-Jun-16 16:00:51

Again I'd like to thank you all for your feedback and sharing stories. It's given us a lot of insight and reassurance we're doing the right thing.

I've left it with the other tenant who will be following up with the LA next week to check for an inventory from when we moved in. We don't recall seeing the paperwork/photos for this and I think it was only the contract that was signed. They are also putting together the discrepancy and will be taking in to account the advice you have shared.

Ningnoise I'm sorry to hear you've had such a hard time getting your deposit back. Thankfully our deposit isn't as much (under £500), but that sounds like a really unfair situation to be in especially considering the sum that could be put towards something important. Fingers crossed it works out for you.

Janecc It seemed a lot to me as well for the vinyl, but I assume they just want to replace the whole floor. It's a small bathroom with a bath/shower and therefore not a lot of floor space.

Janecc Sat 11-Jun-16 16:08:45

They aren't allowed to ask you to replace the whole floor. Only a small contribution. The only way they may possibly get away with asking for full replacement costs is it is if the vinyl was brand new when you arrived and you'd completely trashed it (eg slashed with a Stanley knife) or removed and disposed of it. Vinyl can be very expensive so £50 wouldn't get you a very big piece, it would have to be a minuscule bathroom.

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