Deposit deductions(13 Posts)
I'm embarrassed as I thought I could do this myself, but I've been naive and possibly shot myself in the foot in the process. Want to do the right thing.
Tenant of a number of years gave notice and asked what was expected when she left. We met up at the house, had a walk round and discussed what tenancy agreement states - a few things on inventory (drawn up by agents) missing so asked her to find/replace; cats have wrecked wallpaper in places so not just wear and tear; carpets to be cleaned but didn't have to be professionally as far as I'm concerned, curtains to be washed, etc. A couple of weeks later, I texted her that I wouldn't make any deductions from deposit if everything left clean and tidy. Should also say, sale agreed of the house during tenant's notice period.
Anyway check out time. Agents were sacked a couple of years ago for failings in management btw so I'm doing it. Place is filthy and we say we'll make arrangements for her to pick up the stuff she hasn't been able to pack/move. She's clearly stressed. She leaves before we can do walk round together.
I then find some window keys are missing - locks to be replaced as pretty cheap and easier. Stacks of rubbish in garden - two trips to the tip for me to shift it all. A wall cabinet in the kitchen has holes in the side as though something has been nailed or screwed to it. Same cabinet has also clearly been refixed to the wall, but it was never reported it was falling off/had fallen off. I'd noticed something odd about it on my visit a few weeks earlier but she answered, 'oh I don't know' when I asked had it ever been taken off or come away from the wall? Missing piece of cornice elsewhere in kitchen. Hole cut out of larder cupboard - I thought to accommodate plug rather than removing plug - but I have now realised the whole thing had been moved and the hole is to accommodate an obstacle: seems her f/freezer was too big for the gap. Hole cut is untidy and looks awful. I was never asked about this and wouldn't have given permission. It's a fitted kitchen fgs.
I texted her I would have to hire carpet cleaner and deduct from deposit to which the response was, 'won't new owner will just rip them up?' I have spent hours cleaning everything, including walls, carpets, floors, all woodwork.
How do I quantify the things which are damaged/missing? Can I charge for my time or have I really stuffed up and would I have been better off hiring a cleaner and having an invoice? I'm tired and brassed off with the state the place was left in. I couldn't have left it like that for the buyer and that's not at exchange yet.
I've tried to do the right thing and I don't want to be nasty/do anything which isn't lawful or, conversely, be taken for a mug.
Sorry this is so long. Any advice?
Keep records of all and every communication between you and the tenant. Your time and how she left things is important, but your evidence to support your account is far more important in retaining the deposit by way of recompense...hope you manage to work it all out OP.
I've got photos - although I realise now, not of the rubbish left in the back garden.
The deposit is with DPS, but to complicate things it's held under the original agent's DPS account. Do I just advise them of the deductions as I need to go via them to release the deposit?
I think you need to move the deposit from Agents account to your own - phone DPS and ask
Glad you took photos they are crucial - as are photos of when she first moved in, or an inventory at least.
I'm afraid you cant charge for your time, but gather receipts of everything else and you need to ask DPS to deduct those from the deposit - there is a deadline from end of tenancy (14 days? again ask DPS).
So deposit of say £500, you ask DPS to deduct £400. Tenant says no. DPS asks for all your/her proof and then decides who is right. In my experience they are quite measly with costs ie wouldnt believe a carpet cleaner cost me £200 even when I sent them the receipt. So, add everything you (fairly) can.
Unfortunately the DPS are slow and it will prob take 6 weeks for the refund. Being a landlord is a profession and has to be taken seriously, there are dire consequences of getting it wrong. NLA for £100 year take away some of the stress with training, forms, advice.
you get wear and tear deductions whatever happens: for instance, the cat damage will be reduced given that you are expected to redecorate completely every few years. Ditto carpets - you are expected to replace every few years.
I had a tenant that left all sorts of crap in the garden, including mysterious liquids so we had to get professional clearers in. You are too late for that so let that one go, but you should get a bit back for the rest.
I agree this kind of damage is a nightmare but there is little that you can do beyond raising the dispute with the DPS. Don't hang around.
and tenants wonder why landlords don't like pets...
Thank you folks. It was the attitude over me hiring a carpet cleaner which hacked me off - I'm hoping the check out list and associated costs will be a wake up call and we can reach an agreement.
I don't have an issue with pets - it's people who don't know how to look after them and clean up after them that annoy me. I could have knitted a cat hair rug with the cat hair that was about the place.
Do you know, special, I offered to have the place redecorated for her three months ago and she turned me down.
Can anyone clarify the time to contact DPS? - I understand it's 10 days from the end of the tenancy to get the deposit back to the tenant if there are no issues, but I have been advised today that if you need time to discuss and agree deductions, that doesn't count.
Just double checked and the government website states it's 10 days after agreeing what the tenant will get back, otherwise a dispute is raised and it goes to arbitration, but if anyone can advise re: DPS I'd be grateful.
I cannot see it will be practical to attempt to move the tenant's deposit to my own DPS account at this stage of things and that would probably require her agreement too?
if you haven't already seen it, this may help:
they are big on talking to your tenant and trying to reach an agreement, which you are doing. Glad you didn't redecorate, there's a strong air of 'someone else is buying it so I can leave it filthy!' from your tenant.
BTW my previous rental had carpets and woodwork wrecked by cats. Never again.
Yes, I have read that and will put a link in the covering letter I am sending with the check out details and photos. I've got it in writing from her that she ran off when we went to do the check out, as she apologised for doing so.
To be fair, there was no talk of selling until she handed in her notice, but I think she had decided she was going as it was noticeably scruffier which was what made me offer to redecorate. I wasn't surprised when she gave her notice a couple of months later. I agree though - I think she thought I wouldn't be bothered. But I am not like her!
I thought I would provide an update on this. I put together the check out list, costs for making good, replacing broken and missing items and a schedule of photos to support this. Anyway, over the weekend the former tenant made arrangements to collect the things she had left in the house.
When we met up, I raised the return of the deposit and deductions from it. She agreed with no fuss, no arguments and we've both signed to confirm the proportions of her original deposit to go to each of us.
She was clearly quite embarrassed she'd left the place in a state. Her first words were, 'It's clean, like it was when we moved in' and she asked me how I'd got the kitchen floor clean. Answer: scrubbing it with Ajax on my hands and knees!
Fingers crossed that's the end of the matter. Faith in human nature restored.
Good stuff OP, sometimes embarrassing people into submission works. My DH deals with side of our rentals as he tells it like it is
love it . Thanks for update.
hopefully tenant has learnt that there's no such thing as house-elves!
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