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Please can you help me with this letter?

(12 Posts)
itstheyearzero Fri 12-Oct-12 12:11:49

Background - my parents died so I rented out their house. The tenants were a nightmare from the get go, they woudl never answer the phone when I rang, they got a dog without telling/asking me, they were always behind with their rent etc etc. Anyway, they recently moved out and the place is a mess. They have removed all the carpets (whcih were brand new) from downstairs, the carpets upstaitrs are filthy and covered in dog hair, and there are lots of things broken. They also left me a horrible letter detailing all my 'failings' as a landlord (none of which are true by the way). I would take them to court but I want to try and settle out of court first, so I am considering sending a letter to the tenants father (who was named on the tenancy agreement as guarantor). Please can you read this and let me know what you think? I want to sound business like, but not threatening IYKWIM, and I don't think I have got the balance right. I was shaking when I wrote it so it's probably not that great, but you should get the gist of it...

I am writing to advise you that I am considering taking yourself (as guarantor), your daughter Miss xx, and her partner Mr xxto small claims court with regard to claiming back money to cover the repairs and cleaning needed when Miss xx and Mr xx moved out of the property.

In order to satisfy the pre action protocol, I am writing to you first to appeal to you to settle the matter out of court.

I will be claiming the following:

£500 to replace the carpets that were removed from the property
£300 for a deep clean of the property
£90 for replacement locks as no keys were left at the property
£200 to replace glass broken in the doors/fireplace in the property
£70 for professional cleaning of the oven and hob.
Total: £1160

I have photographic evidence that the property was left in a terrible state:

•all of the floorboards downstairs were dirty and covered in dog hair
•the carpets upstairs were dirty, and again full of dog hair – they had to be removed for health and safety reasons
•an attempt had been made to clean up, but a deep clean of the property was required
•The brand new oven was covered in grease and food debris

If the matter does go to court I will refute any counter claims regarding my ‘failures’ as a landlord because:

a) The gas safety check was carried out by a registered gas safe engineer and he is willing to testify in court that when he left the property, the gas appliances were safe

b) At no time did Miss xx contact me about any problems with the electrics in the property.

c) There is no legal requirement for an electrical safety check to take place prior to letting a property, and the electrics were fine prior to them moving in
d) It was impossible to contact Miss xx and Mr xxfor months on end, their landline was cut off, and neither of them answered their mobile phones when I rang

e) There is no legal requirement to have a radiator or other heating device in every room in a property prior to letting

f) The double doors did not have to be fitted with toughened glass prior to them moving in (this is not a legal requirement)

g) Miss xx and Mr xx brought a dog into the property without asking permission first

h) I was extremely lenient when Mis xx and Mr xx fell behind with their rent (and this happened on a number of occasions), allowing them to pay me the arrear as and when they could afford it

I assume you are a decent, hardworking person, and you must agree that the house was not left in the same state as it was when they moved in. With this in mind, I appeal to you to settle this matter out of court . If I have not heard back from you within 14 days, I will initiate court proceedings, which could prove very costly to you,

Yours etc etc

Please be brutal, I really want to get this right as I really do want to avoid court if possible. Thanks so much for reading!

crabbyoldbat Fri 12-Oct-12 12:49:07

I am not a lawyer, but I wouldn't go into detail about all their ridiculous claims. Just say that you acted fully within the law and met all the safety requirements.

I also think that cleaning is your problem, unless your contract with them stated that they would clean it to your satisfaction before they left? Otherwise, that's just one of the knocks of being a landlord. Also, did you take a deposit from them - this (or part of it) is usually withheld to cover any breakages?

Unless you contract says 'no pets' I think you're on a loser there. And the fact you've been nice to them probably counts for nothing, legally

Not sure about the keys thing - you may be able to sue them for the cost of lock changing. And for the return of/replacement of the downstairs carpets.

While it's good to have pictures from when they left - I assume you can proove these were taken immediately after their going (so they can't say that it happened after they left) - do you have pictures taken just before they moved in? (so they can't say it was like that when they got there). These will help you retain their security deposit.

A lot depends on what you terms were in you tenancy contract, so I'd go back to that.

Sorry, this doesn't sound very helpful

Thistledew Fri 12-Oct-12 12:50:31

Not bad at all, but a few things I think you should change:

1. The letter needs to go to the tenants as well as the guarantor. Your action will have to be brought primarily against the tenants, with recourse to the guarantor if you cannot obtain damages from the tenants. Also check the terms of the guarantor's agreement to see if it covers liability for damages as well as unpaid rent.

Secondly, take out the last paragraph about the guarantor being 'honest and hardworking'. It sounds too emotive. Make your letter about facts only.

Thirdly, I think you have detailed the damage caused well, but it may be worth you setting out the allegations that the tenants have make in more detail so it is clear that you have fully responded to each item.

Fourthly, try to be a bit more specific with dates where you can be.

I hope this helps- good luck with it!

Thistledew Fri 12-Oct-12 12:53:27

I meant to say also- it would be a good idea to provide a copy of the quotes you have had for the work, and to refer to specific clauses in the tenancy agreement that you say they have breached.

JustFabulous Fri 12-Oct-12 12:57:40

"which could prove very costly to you."

That sounds threatening to me.

I would see a solicitor before sending the letter as you need to make sure you do everything by the book. You don't want to lose on a technicality.

itstheyearzero Fri 12-Oct-12 13:02:01

Thanks, I was trying to appeal to him as a decent human being, but agree that it probably sounds emotive. I do have before and after pictures, as well as a check in and check out report. They had already gone by the time I went to do the check out, so they didnt sign it. The photos were taken digitally, so they are date stamped.

Re th etenants, I don't know where they live now, they didn't leave a forwarding address, hence me writing to him. He was named on the tenancy agreement as guarantor, so I assume he is liable for damages too.? The deposit was held legally, and did go to dispute, and I did get my rent arrears.

The no pets thing - hmmm. When I advertised the house I said 'pets possible', (I wouldn't have minded an old lady with a cat IYSWIM), but they moved in and got a dog about 3 months later without asking me...not sure of the legalities of this.

Thanks for replying, will make some changes to the letter. I'm still really upset and annoyed about all this, maybe I'm too emotional because it was my Mum and Das house and they wrecked it.

MrAnchovy Fri 12-Oct-12 13:52:44

Re th etenants, I don't know where they live now, they didn't leave a forwarding address, hence me writing to him.

You should say this in the letter then, and explain that this is why you are claiming against him and not them.

He was named on the tenancy agreement as guarantor, so I assume he is liable for damages too.?

Did the guarantor sign the agreement? Or is there a separate deed of guarantee? Was the guarantor's signature witnessed formally?

The deposit was held legally, and did go to dispute, and I did get my rent arrears.

Why did you not include the damage claim then? Did the arrears claim against the deposit state that the claim was for arrears only and that you were reserving the right to claim for damages?

The no pets thing - hmmm. When I advertised the house I said 'pets possible'

Unless the signed agreement said "no pets without LLs permission" you have no recourse for this, however you wouldn't be able to make a financial claim just because they had a dog anyway, your claim is because they caused damage beyond normal wear and tear.

The amounts in the letter sound low - have you had all the work done? You should add a cost for managing the works and for anything else that can even remotely be justified - bear in mind that the guarantor is likely to make an offer to settle: he might start at 50% of what you have asked for.

Don't even mention any claims they may have against you, it is for him to raise them.

mycatlikestwiglets Fri 12-Oct-12 14:00:27

You have had some good advice from Thistledew, especially regarding the guarantor. Do check your tenancy agreement carefully to be sure that the guarantee was not just in respect of rental payments (as opposed to damage). I would make sure with your letters you send pictures of before and after the tenants lived at the property, together with your inventory. Do also include some quotes for repair so that it is clear your claim can be substantiated. Also make sure you head your letter "without prejudice save as to costs".

You say the deposit went to a dispute and you got your rent arrears. Does that mean that you were able to retain the deposit to cover the arrears (rather than the damage to the property)?

You can definitely claim for replacement locks and carpets in the circumstances in order to make good the damage the tenants have done (although the carpet should be the same as previously - you can't claim for any betterment if you decide to put in a more expensive one).

In relation to cleaning, you can't usually claim for a professional clean unless the property was professionally cleaned before the tenants moved in. In this case, I would suggest you add something in to your letter to make clear that you are claiming for professional cleaning because the level of dirt is so bad that this is the only way to restore the property to its previous condition (and make the point that this appears to be largely due to the tenants having brought a dog into the property without permission and against the terms of their lease). The oven is a given - as it was brand new, you are entitled to expect it still to look brand new (save for wear and tear, which dirt is not).

In relation to the claims the tenants have made, I wouldn't list them personally (I am a solicitor). I would just say something along the lines of:

"You may be aware that Miss x and Mr y have alleged that my supposed "failures as a landlord" absolve them of any responsibility regarding the above. Those allegations are entirely unfounded, not to mention legally incorrect."

Then make your point about leniency in relation to rent arrears. Good luck.

itstheyearzero Fri 12-Oct-12 14:02:53

Thanks Anchovy - responses below..

Re th etenants, I don't know where they live now, they didn't leave a forwarding address, hence me writing to him.

You should say this in the letter then, and explain that this is why you are claiming against him and not them. OK will do

He was named on the tenancy agreement as guarantor, so I assume he is liable for damages too.?

Did the guarantor sign the agreement? Or is there a separate deed of guarantee? Was the guarantor's signature witnessed formally? yes he did sign it and it was witnessed. There is no seperate deed of guarantee. When I queried this with the EA at the time, I was told this is quite normal - he is named on the tenancy agreement as though he were a tenant, but with the descriptor of guarantor

The deposit was held legally, and did go to dispute, and I did get my rent arrears.

Why did you not include the damage claim then? Did the arrears claim against the deposit state that the claim was for arrears only and that you were reserving the right to claim for damages? all of the deposit was taken up with arrears, so couldnt claim for anything else

The no pets thing - hmmm. When I advertised the house I said 'pets possible'

Unless the signed agreement said "no pets without LLs permission" you have no recourse for this, however you wouldn't be able to make a financial claim just because they had a dog anyway, your claim is because they caused damage beyond normal wear and tear. ok

The amounts in the letter sound low - have you had all the work done? You should add a cost for managing the works and for anything else that can even remotely be justified - bear in mind that the guarantor is likely to make an offer to settle: he might start at 50% of what you have asked for. no I didnt get ita ll done, I did the bare minimum and put it on the market for sale, I do have quotes though.

Thanks, so shall I get this to a solictor first do you think? Thanks for your help

itstheyearzero Fri 12-Oct-12 14:04:47

"You may be aware that Miss x and Mr y have alleged that my supposed "failures as a landlord" absolve them of any responsibility regarding the above. Those allegations are entirely unfounded, not to mention legally incorrect."

Thanks Twiglets, that sounds good. In fact all of your advice is good.

MrAnchovy Fri 12-Oct-12 14:40:57

yes he did sign it and it was witnessed. There is no seperate deed of guarantee. When I queried this with the EA at the time, I was told this is quite normal - he is named on the tenancy agreement as though he were a tenant, but with the descriptor of guarantor

This is fine, yes it is quite normal.

all of the deposit was taken up with arrears, so couldnt claim for anything else

This is not ideal but as long as nothing has been stated to be in full and final settlement of all claims you should be OK.

Thanks, so shall I get this to a solictor first do you think?

Up to you. They may not say anything different to what mycatlikestwiglets and I have said between us. As long as you head all correspondence "without prejudice save as to costs" as suggested there is nothing to stop you going to a solicitor later if you need to, although this claim would normally be persued through the Small Claims procedure of the County Court where you would not be awarded solicitors fees.

As a final tip (sorry it is too late) it is usually better to use the deposit for excess wear and tear costs (noting the reservation of the right to claim for outstanding rent) as the claim for unpaid rent is much easier to prove in court. The letting agents should probably have pointed this out and helped you with this.

itstheyearzero Fri 12-Oct-12 15:18:27

Thanks again, that's really helpful. OK, I think I will rewrite it taking into account all of your suggestions, and maybe post it on nhere again for a final review. Would that be OK? Can't face doing it now, it will be in the next few days I think..

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