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Landlord/tenant deposit dispute

(12 Posts)
SAHRum Thu 02-May-13 14:11:42

advice needed please, will try and keep it brief

My property has been on the market for some time and now has a buyer. We are almost at the point where we can exchange. During the last 6 months I have rented the property out through a very well known estate agent to save me the trouble of finding short term tenants at a huge fee of 26% + VAT. All tenants have been fine and the rent money after deductions from the agent has enabled us to just about pay the mortgage and council tax. We have had no issues until the last tenant who has damaged the property - flooding the kitchen floor whilst away causing damage to the floor, which also leaked and caused damage in the flat below. The tenant also brought a tv into the property which we explicitly told him he couldn't as the flat isn't licensed - on top of this he very kindly went ahead and had SKY installed without our permission further damaging our property - a hole in the wall for the cabling and cabling tacked into doorframes/skirting boards etc. He also left the flat in an absolute shit state - washing up everywhere, rubbish not taken out, half empty beer cans all over the flat, fag butts in the sink etc.

Through the agent we have had 2 builders come around and assess the damage - both have said that the floor will need to come up and be replaced due to water damage underneath, never mind the cost of making good the hole and sorting out downstairs. The quotes are wildly different but the cheapest one together with the cost of the domestic clean we had to have done comes in at over his bond money which is held by the agency. We do not want to give the tenant back his bond but the tenant is disputing the costs and "cannot see" how the damage equates to this sum (the floor is slightly warped and doesn't look that bad but clearly the damage is underneath). The big problem is that we didn't do an inventory, it was all rather rushed and we signed the papers very quickly as he apparently needed somewhere to live asap, the agent offered to do an inventory at an additional cost but we said no as we'd not had any trouble with the previous tenants (silly!). The tenant has offered us a third of the costs. The agent says we should take this as if it goes to arbitration we would have a hard time proving that the flat wasn't already damaged in the first place. We have argued that our agent should make up the short fall but they're having none of it.

I am so cross and really want to take this to arbitration (which could take up to 3 months) - the flooding of the kitchen I can almost take as it was an accident but the SKY thing really really galls me. However, with the sale imminent it doesn't make sense financially to go to arbitratoin as I'm sure we would lose the buyer as we could not sell until it was settled. It's been on the market for so long that we just want rid. We have photographs of the damage and letters from SKY proving installation date etc, witnesses in the form of flat site manager and tenants in the flat below to say that there was a leak at a given time and I'm halfway convinced that the judge would decide in our favour despite not having an inventory. This said and with the sale in mind, do I just accept the £450, chalk it up to experience and pay the rest to get the repairs done myself so that we can go ahead with the sale. Or should I call his bluff and see how far we can get with this?

Sorry, much longer than I planned!

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Thu 02-May-13 19:04:33

The "big problem" as far as I see it is that you don't have landlord's insurance! Also...I can't see why you told him not to take a television onto the property...surely it is his responsibility to sort a licence out?

A hole in a wall for cabling is quite usual...as is wiring tacked up...that won't cost much to remove and make good. The floor is the main problem...I agree that taking what's been offered is sensible given you did not take an inventory.

featherbag Thu 02-May-13 19:14:56

I'd see a solicitor for advice if I were you. Out of interest, why were you paying the council tax? And why couldn't the tenant have a tv, when TV license is the responsibility of the occupant rather than the owner?

SuedeEffectPochette Fri 03-May-13 08:37:04

The critical question here is "what loss have you suffered?". If there is a breach of contract, you can sue for loss. There appears to be a breach because the property is damaged. however, if your buyers have not reduced their price due to the damage, you have no actual loss - have they reduced the price? TBH you are better off trying to do a deal than be bogged down in arbitration. Plus once tenants start investigating their rights they often visit a solicitor who then tells then that they can sue for 1-3 times their deposit back if NOT EVERY LITTLE DETAIL about the deposit was done properly. And most agents, yes, even the big ones, mess this up!

SAHRum Fri 03-May-13 13:50:56

well the buyer doesn't know about the damage Suede as we plan to get it all ship shape. We decided to just take the money as it's just becoming too much of a pain. We never intended to rent the property out as it was on the market and we expected a quick sale. After a bad experience with one estate agent we switched to the highly prestigious one that we're with now in the hope that they could shift it - they certainly got traffic through the door but it wasn't shifting so we lowered the price. During this time the agent put it to us that whilst we were waiting for a buyer we could rent the flat out on a short-term basis - this covers people who need a place for say 2-3 months and this works our cheaper than a hotel etc. The agent take a whoping fee for arranging this but it leaves enough to cover mortgage and council tax which previously we'd been covering and it was crippling us so this seemed like the sensible option. As per the agency contract on all short term the price includes bills which includes tv licence. We've had 3 lots of people in on 2 month contracts and they've all been great up til this one, no problems at all.

What kind of a person decides to install SKY in a property that they're only staying at for a short time? No fucking respect.

Hey ho, we won't be doing that again in a hurry.

SuedeEffectPochette Fri 03-May-13 23:20:32

I just get rid of the tenant, tell your buyers to go round and have another look and take a view. They may not mind too much - maybe they want sky!

SuedeEffectPochette Fri 03-May-13 23:24:16

Interesting this short term lets thing. I can see how it works from the tenant's point of view but surely these are Assured Shorthold Tenancies which, from a landlord's point of view, actually can't be terminated for the first six months. Ok if your tenant wants to leave. Not so much if they don't!

gallicgirl Fri 03-May-13 23:34:20

It's a licence surely? More like a long term holiday let.

SuedeEffectPochette Fri 03-May-13 23:47:29

No I don't think it would be, unless services are provided regularly like cleaning etc, like with holiday lets. I think it would be an AST.

holidaysarenice Fri 03-May-13 23:55:40

Neither the licence nor the council tax should be yours to pay. They are tenants reponsibility.

SAHRum Sat 04-May-13 11:12:54

no, sorry you're wrong about the licence and the council tax - it's a completely different kind of tenancy and is more like holiday lets so it is our responsibility. Anyhow, the tenant is out now and we're getting the floor fixed so hopefully all will be well.

<never be a landlord emoticon!>

SuedeEffectPochette Sat 04-May-13 22:37:22

Hmm - I still think that this is an Assured shorthold - but hey - someone come along and explain why it is not!.......................it's not a holiday let is it, if they stay for two months??

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