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Anyone know their stuff on tenants rights? - I've been renting a house for almost 7 years, and have a difficult landlady...

(27 Posts)
PiperBeeley Sun 30-Aug-15 14:13:13

I have another property lined up and will hopefully be giving my notice soon. I have never been allowed to decorate here, in fact I've been allowed to do very little. My rent has always been paid on time, and I have passed every inspection. However, the agent that deals with this property are notorious for playing dirty, and I am worried about getting my deposit back... People have warned me, and said "good luck getting your deposit back from them - they will make all sorts up and do ANYTHING to keep as much as possible" this is worrying as they have £900! Not only that, but they are insisting I decorate the house throughout in magnolia (it's already magnolia, but they want me to 'freshen it up') before I move out. Since they have never let me decorate while I have lived here, why should it come down to me to re-decorate for the next tenants?? Surely it is the landlady/agents job to come in once I am gone to decorate and prep fpr next people?? Honestly, I am struggling to understand what rights I have at all. I've heard so many stories about how my rights change the longer I have been here, but I just don't understand in what way!!... Is there anyone on here that understands all this?? I have been a good, reliable, clean tenant, I am more than happy to shampoo all carpets and thoroughly clean and scrub everything everywhere, but it is not my house and I'm not prepared to decorate when I've never been allowed to so far anyway!
Sorry for rant... years of frustration I guess!... Any advice/input would be very welcome and appreciated!! TIA x

Konserve Sun 30-Aug-15 14:22:44

do you have a detailed inventory from when you moved in?
deposit protected?
what does the contract say reg decorating upon moving out?

Konserve Sun 30-Aug-15 14:24:24

tbh I don't think they can deduct much from your deposit, if anything at all.

GaryBaldy Sun 30-Aug-15 14:27:44

Do you have an inventory?
Is your deposit in a protected scheme? I'm guessing not if you have been there a long time, but if it is then it makes it more difficult for them to wriggle out of repaying it.

Wear and tear is to be expected over a 7 year period. You should not be responsible for redecorating.

BlackAmericanoNoSugar Sun 30-Aug-15 14:27:57

Have they put it into a protected deposit scheme? My understanding is that the scheme won't let them deduct from your deposit unless you agree to it. If you and the landlord/agent can't agree then it will be up to a third party to decide on a fair level of deductions. Normal wear and tear is not usually considered to be a deductible expense.

PiperBeeley Sun 30-Aug-15 15:10:09

Hi, thanks for the responses!
Firstly - my deposit is in an 'independent protected deposit scheme' which does reassure me. But some time ago, while I was away and agreed they could let themselves in they took some pictures of 'worn and tatty window ledges' and claimed I was allowing the property to fall into disrepair - the property is a pretty old bungalow and already has reasonable and understandable amount of age-associated wear and tear, I was furious and checked the detailed inventory, it is pretty detailed and states white gloss painted window ledges but not with age-related marks/dents which they have but only if you look closely!! Which is what they did when taking the pictures - they are very close up. This is unfair and they are clearly hoping to use whatever they can against me when I leave! I have taken EXTENSIVE pictures when I moved in, and I plan on doing the same when I leave for comparison - but it is clear I will have a fight on my hands! As far as I can find, the contract states I 'leave the property in the condition in which I found it' but obviously there is almost 7 years of wear and tear, damp problems (reported but they never bothered dealing with them) and the cheap, horrible cream carpets are now rather poor condition despite the fact I have shampooed them regularly, however they absolutely STINK when they have been done and they have started to fray at the doors - so I dare not do them any more.

MuttonDressedAsGoose Sun 30-Aug-15 15:16:08

"Fair wear and tear" is a contentious issue and I think you will likely have a bit of a battle on your hands. There's no iron-clad rules about what counts an what doesn't. However, I do believe I've read that it is not allowable to require redecoration. I hope that someone more knowledgeable comes along with good advice.

MuttonDressedAsGoose Sun 30-Aug-15 15:18:20

Does the tenancy agreement explicitly say that you are to leave it in the same condition you got it?

Sunnyshores Sun 30-Aug-15 15:22:39

First you need to know where your deposit is being held. You should have been given paperwork by the Agent and emailed by the Scheme - within the first month of the tenancy or maybe at contract renewal.

It can only be in one of 3 places: DPS, TDS, mydeposits.
You can look for it here:

If it isnt in one of these schemes, come back and we can help you draft a letter to the Agent. If the deposit isnt protected none of your other issues re decoration, etc matter. so please do this first!

Sotonwhere Sun 30-Aug-15 16:20:27

What your landlord or estate agent say is not necessarily legal.
As long as your deposit is protected in one of the 3 schemes mentioned above as it legally should be then move out as normal, I wouldn't even bother shampooing carpets etc- just a normal decent clean, and they will have to fight to take a penny off you.
It is up to them to prove you caused damage beyond the normal expected wear and tear. Whatever they tell you about what you need to do remember this sentence. They need to prove you caused damage beyond normal wear and tear.

So long as you have photos from when you moved in and when you moved out 7 years later which shows you kept it reasonable you'll be fine. Don't whatever you do give them anything or spend lots of money cleaning the flat professionally.

Good luck

Sotonwhere Sun 30-Aug-15 16:23:27

And the tenancy agreement wording can be largely ignored. They could put wording in saying you need to repaint and install new carpets and bake a cake and leave fresh flowers. That doesn't mean you have to! It would be an illegal agreement.
All you have to do is pay rent on time and leave it clean and without broken windows and not nick the cooker. Hold firm.

Sunnyshores Sun 30-Aug-15 16:26:00

Not nick the cooker!!!! that sounds like a voice of experience

CremeEggThief Sun 30-Aug-15 16:28:11

OP, you're worrying too much. I redecorated without permission, couldn't even be bothered to paint begin my big furniture and when I moved out recently, the cheeky bastards tried to keep all of my deposit!angry I appealed to the DPS, using the checkout report they made me pay for, and they found in my favour, bar a token sum of £59.20 towards the decoration costs for them.

CremeEggThief Sun 30-Aug-15 16:28:48

*behind, not begin.

twinkletoedelephant Sun 30-Aug-15 16:28:57

Out last ll wrote a 3 page letter detailing all the 'issues' we had caused... We actually had the carpet shampooed and had painted one wall as the kids drew on it. Our deposit was paid by the council but ll was also trying to claim thousands from us in Damage's... She didn't get a penny.

Don't decorate just make sure what's there is clean.

CremeEggThief Sun 30-Aug-15 16:31:35

All I did was cleaned and dusted all surfaces, cleaned the hob and oven (forgot to do the hood) and vacuumed very well. I didn't mop or clean the windows and I was still judged by the checkout report to have cleaned to a very good domestic standard.

wowfudge Sun 30-Aug-15 16:48:32

Your first step is to ensure your deposit is actually with one of the deposit schemes. find out which one - you can ring them and they'll be able to trace it by your name and the address. Providing it has been protected. If none of the schemes can trace it, go back to the agents and ask them to specify which it is. Your landlord is in big trouble if it hasn't been protected for you.

Don't worry about them taking it from you for spurious reasons. Document the state of the place room by room - take photos and have a newspaper from the day you move out and photograph that; you could even film it on a phone with your commentary. Make sure you are there when the check out is done. Insist on it.

It's not your responsibility to redecorate for the landlord. Do you have evidence you were forbidden from redecorating? Yes to cleaning curtains and carpets. You don't need to do more. Shelter and the websites have info on your rights and resposibilities.

wowfudge Sun 30-Aug-15 16:58:09

OP just re-read your post about the lack of maintenance, etc - just vacuum. Don't clean the carpets.

MuttonDressedAsGoose Sun 30-Aug-15 17:14:56

I think cleaning carpets is standard, really.

From what I've read, no landlord is allowed to require that things are as perfect as you found it. Seven years habitation will mean wear and tear on fixtures and even if there is outright damage due to misuse (i.e., not fair wear and tear) they can't claim to be restored to new: only to the condition it was in upon moving in, taking into account seven years of wear and tear. So, if you stubbed cigarettes out on the carpets, they still wouldn't be entitled to new carpets. Just to the equivalent of non-burnt seven-year-old carpets.

PiperBeeley Sun 30-Aug-15 17:15:24

Found it! It is protected. Thank you for the link! I think my main concern was/is to what extent responsibility re the condition of the property falls to me. As I said, I will of course scrub, clean and vacuum etc. But I think they are going to try and get blood out of me! I'm certain I have a battle ahead - I just want to be as armed as possible! Thanks guys x

Konserve Sun 30-Aug-15 17:37:50

that's great news!
your plan sounds sensible. good luck.

NadiaWadia Sun 30-Aug-15 17:38:00

There is no way a landlord can demand you decorate for the benefit of new tenants after seven years, that's ridiculous! I think it if came to it, they would be laughed out of court. And this is a 'professional' agent?? (The sector certainly needs more regulation).

ChunkyPickle Sun 30-Aug-15 17:49:52

It's not a battle - you just fill in a web form, with all your evidence, pictures, emails reporting damp etc. They do the same, with a listing of what they want to claim, and a fair decision will be made.

I've been there from both sides, and both times they made pretty fair decisions I think.

I will mention, if you make an offer of a compromise amount, then the arbitrator will very likely accept that offer, so I really wouldn't do that if I was you - much better to have the landlord justify the claims (and after 7 years, really, there needs to be a complete redecoration by the landlord anyhow - perhaps not carpets, but painting, a 7 year refresh is reasonable, and totally on the landlord, not you)

Oh, also, they need to state up front how much they want to claim, and why, and return the unclaimed deposit promptly - they can't ask for more, and it has to be a justifiable (with quotes etc) amount.

AngelaRipp0n Sun 30-Aug-15 17:50:58

I had this problem, the LL wanted over £3,000 from me to replace the carpet and redecorate a four bed house. The letting agent backed him up in this. U fortunately for them I was also a Landlord and well informed. As the tenant you are required to return the property in the same state you found it in minus reasonable wear and tear. So let's say you moved in and everything wash freshly decorated and the carpets were new, but now it's all a bit tatty and the carpets are worn/bit grubby. That would be seen to be reasonable given the time frame and therefore not your responsibility. If it wasn't freshly decorated with new carpets even more so. You are not responsible for damp or rotting window frames. If you'd spilled paint on the carpet, that would be your responsibility.

The inventory that should have been done is the bible that the deposit relates to. If it's vague or doesn't exist then the deposit scheme will find in favour of the tenant.

It sounds to me like you will have to be prepared to go through the deposit scheme, there's a process and they expect you to try to resolve it first. So don't do any decorating, leave everything clean and make sure you are there for the inventory check out and take photos. If you get a letter saying you owe money for the decorating etc write back explaining why not, don't conceed anything is you think it's unreasonable. If you hit stalemate then go to the deposit scheme.

Sunnyshores Sun 30-Aug-15 18:15:54

Its good that it is protected as it means there is an independent party now to arbitrate between you and the Agent.

Return the property clean, particularly oven and hob, bins emptied, garden neat, carpets cleaned (if it says in contract). Decorating is not reasonable (whatever the contract says).

7 years is a long tenancy, you shouldnt be charged for anything really (broken windows and nicked oven withstanding!)

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