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Can my landlord charge me for filling an eviction in court?

(18 Posts)
Chi348 Wed 11-Sep-19 20:04:14

I along with my 3 young nieces rented my flat from an estate agent . On moving in the flat was well painted and warm. However, I now discovered it was a flat covered in mould which ruined our clothing and shoes. An environmental staff from the council confirmed it was rising damp and condensation. They recommended repair from the landlord which never happened in the 5 years we lived there.
Also, the boiler was old and always broke down so we had no heating most of the times despite recommendations from British Gas. The toilet reservoir leaked, we collected its water in a bucket for 5 years. A few bathroom tiles fell off, not due to carelessness but I think moisture in the walls, plaster from the ceiling fell off.
I was advised to wash the mould off the walls but this worsened the appearance of the flat because the mould surfaced on the outside on wall papers, was an eye sore, wall papers peeled of in places.
Needless to say, the girls asthmatic conditions worsened.
Twice the damp condition was reported. Damp destroyed the washing machine which got replaced, surface burner was replaced by landlord. The carpet was washed for our move in but had stains after 5 years, no damage.
My concern now is that the Landlord gave a quit notice but I couldn't find a place quick enough. They applied to the court for a section 21. They claimed they want to sell off and relocate elsewhere. I have now moved and then received an email saying money will be deducted from my deposit to offset the court fee ( I didn't terminate my contract, they did! Why should I pay for that?). They also said they would be working out what repairs and expenses they would have to deduct before making further claims or returning balance if any.
As a single parent, I did my best to keep the house clean but for 5 years, wear and tear happened like stained carpet from being a damp house, carpet was always wet in winter.

Help me here, is the landlord right with their claim of court fees and what other claim can they make on my deposit, I need that money badly.
Would it be fair to make counter claims due to the damage of mould on our health, clothes, shoes and poor quality of life as we never brought friends home. I have pictures and medical reports. Thanks

OP’s posts: |
ShellieEllie Wed 11-Sep-19 20:08:53

I trust your deposit is in an official scheme? I doubt they can claim their court fees from your deposit. I'd give Shelter a call for advice.

Hannah021 Wed 11-Sep-19 20:11:36

Was the deposit kept with a scheme or with him? The agency would have kept your money with a third party.
You need to respond to them and say no, I dispute this and explain why with evidence. If they didn't keep it with a third party, you can threaten them with a court, because it is a legal requirement to put your deposit with a scheme, and they need your permission to release the fund.

So make sure to respond in writing, and call.

Elieza Wed 11-Sep-19 20:19:09

Shelter are great for advice. They really helped my pal. Perhaps they have information on their website that may help? Or citizens advice?
Good luck.

Chi348 Wed 11-Sep-19 20:34:22

Thanks ShellieEllie, my deposit was put in a scheme through an estate agent

OP’s posts: |
Chi348 Wed 11-Sep-19 20:40:04

Thanks Hannah021 and Elieza, I will consider challenging the court fee and also speak with Shelter, though I sent an email but haven't received a reply yet. As previously mentioned, the deposit is in a secured scheme but the estate agent wrote saying the landlord would deduct their court fee and are looking to work out whatever cost they incur to fix the flat before writing me a recommendation of debt or balance from deposit

OP’s posts: |
DexyMidnight Wed 11-Sep-19 22:21:51

read your tenancy. I think mine is worded broadly enough that it would allow me to deduct ancillary expenses such as court fees but you still need underlying grounds to do so. Can does not equal should and if i were him I'd give you your whole deposit back and pray I didn't get prosecuted by enviro health.

No you can't counterclaim on the deposit it doesn't work like that - the money is already yours and he has to satisfy DPS he is making fair deductions.

What you can do is write to him to say that you will be taking legal action to recover your losses and any misappropriated portion of the deposit. Maybe shelter / CBA / a uni legal advice clinic can help you draft something. You might be eligible for legal aid if you did have to raise a small claim against him - unsure

DexyMidnight Wed 11-Sep-19 22:24:36

I am assuming you've continued payi G your rent - if you haven't your deposit is probably all gone and yes I do think to the extent there's any remaining deposit after unpaid rent LL can and should use it fort the court fee.

Shelley54 Thu 12-Sep-19 07:05:08

Why did you stay there 5 years?

You won't be able to counter claim for Ill health or not having friends round.

Did the council serve a notice on your landlord instructing then to make repairs? What happened then?

KnobJockey Thu 12-Sep-19 15:41:04

Of course he can claim for court fees- it's part of your agreement to leave on time when served the correct notice, the fact that you hadn't found anywhere else is not his problem, so he has every right to get the legal ball rolling- which is at your cost.

With regards to the rest of the deposit, then he won't be able to take it without the agreement of the deposit scheme he used. He will have to apply to keep certain amounts of money for each problem. You can dispute each and every one of them- and I would suggest strongly that you do as if you agree they will award it to him, even if the amount is disproportionate.

Whatever they do deduct will be pro rata, so if he's saying that you wrecked the carpets in the lounge, he will have to prove how much it costs, then a percentage will be awarded depending on how long you've been there Vs the lifespan. So a carpet will reasonably be expected to last 4 years, and cost £100 for 1 room. After 5 years it's ran through its life span, so they get nothing. If a new kitchen worktop is £200, and is expected to last 10 years, thats 10% depreciation every year, so after 5 years they would be awarded £100. Figures are estimates here!

If they didn't take an opening inventory, or insure your deposit, then he is up shit street anyway and has no chance apart from court fees and rent arrears, so let us know if that's the case! Have you kept emails letting them know of problems?

KnobJockey Thu 12-Sep-19 15:46:17

PDF showing the expected lifespan of the most common claims.

Chi348 Thu 21-Nov-19 15:35:59

Thanks everyone for your advice. The estate agent who was expected to account for my deposit, told me that the landlord took the flat away from them and is putting it up for sale so they can't tell me much of what is happening.
I have written to the Estate Agent asking who is responsible for refunding my deposit.
I read on Shelter's website, that a tenant's money should not be used to fix a house that is to be put up for sale. Also, that the landlord is responsible for my deposit even if collected by the Estate Agent
I will update the group on the final outcome. Thanks once more for all your support

OP’s posts: |
QforCucumber Thu 21-Nov-19 15:45:42

you should have been given the details of the deposit scheme it is being held with, you apply to them directly for the return of your deposit.

mencken Thu 21-Nov-19 17:00:56

England?

www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-rent

there are only 3 deposit schemes so it won't take long to find the right one. Raise a dispute and you are dealing with the LANDLORD, not the agent.

you can't claim for damage to your possessions (that comes from your tenant's insurance), health or lack of social life. It is for the landlord to prove a claim on the deposit which is your money.

hope your new place isn't a shithole run by a crook. Please make sure you've got all you should have: gas safe, smoke alarms, etc etc etc.

GreenTulips Thu 21-Nov-19 17:04:30

I don’t think you have a counter claim if you continued to live there for five years knowing the damp was causing ill health.

WombatChocolate Thu 21-Nov-19 19:33:36

Your LL may not have maintained the property as he should have, but that is a totally different issue to being charged fees for starting court proceedings to evict you, because you failed to vacate according to legal notice.

You cannot offset the claim for court charges by saying the LL didn't maintain the property.

When your deposit is returned the agent (and an arbitrator if there is a dispute) will compare the state of the property at the end of the tenancy to the start. Wear and tear are allowed. Damage isn't. It will be really important that you have photographic evidence of failures of maintenance being the cause of damage rather than yourselves. Simply saying the LL did not maintain won't account for or explain actual damage caused by you as tenants.

johnd2 Fri 22-Nov-19 00:08:50

I don't see how they can deduct the court fee, when they end the tenancy that just means you don't have a tenancy any more, but they still have to take possession through the court. If you happen to give up possession that's fine, but it's your home so they have to convince the court.
Bear in mind statute overrides any clauses in the tenancy agreement, so a lot of what landlords and agents write in there can be considered more like hopes and expectations rather than things they can penalise you for. Good luck.

SoggySockRage Fri 22-Nov-19 00:28:40

Did you challenge the notice in court? It is up to the landlord to pay the standard fees, but if you challenge the notice in court and lose you can be liable.

Annoyingly, it Sounds like you could actually have challenged successfully with a claim that it was an invalid s21 anyway. if maintenance issues have been reported, remedial work had been ordered and not carried out, it is one of the things that can invalidate the notice. If this was the case, the possession order wouldn't worth the paper it's written on. By the by at this stage though.

Doubt very much a deposit scheme would agree to deduct court costs in this instance. Regarding property upkeep, if you have documentation from the council ordering works to be carried ouit by the landlord, id submit to the deposit adjudication scheme and would imagine they will take a dim view on the landlord trying to palm the damage off on you.

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