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Landlord wants to go to arbitration over redecoration re smoking - please help

(11 Posts)
fizzylemonade Thu 06-Sep-07 15:42:46

My Mum has just moved out of a property she rented for almost 18 months, she initally saw an advert for it in the local property paper.

My Mum filled in the application for credit check and vetting for the letting agents and ticked the box that said she was a smoker.

She did smoke in the property as there was nothing in the advert OR tenancy agreement about smoking and was never informed otherwise.

She has now left the property and the agents are holding her £550 bond as the landlord states it was meant to be a non-smoking property. He wants it redecorated and my Mum to pay "something" towards the cost. The agents say it will cost £400 to paint the plastered walls light cream again.

The agents say that a property should be re-decorated every 3-5 years and it was only done 2 1/2 years ago (but it is a light cream colour)so are asking my Mum (aged 60 and a pensioner) to pay towards the decorating cost before the landlord takes it to arbitration.

My main point is -it never said anything about smoking in the tenancy agreement, the advert never said "non-smokers" and my Mum did say she was a smoker and still has a copy of the form she filled in so knows she ticked the box.

She is worried that if it went to arbitration then she might end up losing her entire bond money.

Any help greatly appreciated, thanks

bumposaurus Thu 06-Sep-07 21:00:03

If there's nothing in any of the contract documents and nothing was said when she took the tenancy, then I don't think they can ask for a contribution

fridayschild Fri 07-Sep-07 14:09:25

Does the tenancy exclude fair wear and tear? If so, and she said she was a smoker she might be ok. It sounds to me like the landlord's claim should be against the agent who failed to make sure it was let to a non-smoker.

They try to be quite fair to tenants at arbitration. Could your mum take an articulate friend along with her if she's not the sort to speak up for herself?

fizzylemonade Fri 07-Sep-07 14:18:56

The tenancy agreement includes wear and tear and I think the agents tried to get the landlord to accept the redecoration under that but he isn't buying it. I feel the agents are trying to keep the landlord happy -maybe he has lots of properties with them.

My Mum is being all nice about it because although she has moved she is still with this agent. Plus this has been going on for over 2 months and she just wants her money back.

As far as I see it the tenancy agreement is the legal contract and there is nothing in there, she declared she was a smoker up front and she genuinely did not know that it was a no-smoking property.

My Mum tends to accept stuff as she doesn't like to challenge anyone over anything. I am the fighter in the family grin

fridayschild Fri 07-Sep-07 15:03:38

Sorry - I might not have been clear. I am expecting an obligation written into the tenancy agreement for the tenant to keep the property in a good state of repair and condition, fair wear and tear and damage by insured risks excepted. Is that what your mum has?

There is usually the opportunity for someone to accompany a party to an aribitration as spokesperson, if they are not legally represented.

you might need the arbitration to get the money back, from what you are saying

LoveAngel Sat 08-Sep-07 09:20:28

I think you have to say very frimly what you have said to us - repeating like a broken revord if necessary - then inform them that you will be talking to your solicitor about this if the matter isn't dropped. That might scare them off. In the meantime, it might be worth talking to the CAB?

SittingBull Sat 08-Sep-07 09:29:02

Message withdrawn

SittingBull Sat 08-Sep-07 09:30:35

Message withdrawn

Freckle Sat 08-Sep-07 09:31:46

I agree with SittingBull. Your mother has complied with the terms of the tenancy and the landlord is now in breach of the terms.

Be very direct. Write a letter, stating the facts quite clearly and giving them x number of days (14 is good) to refund the whole of the deposit, failing which you will be taking legal action. And then you must do it.

You could also try talking to the local authority. They have a department which acts as liaison between landlords and tenants (not just for local authority properties), e.g. they can intervene if landlords are not carrying out repairs, etc. They may be able to help.

fizzylemonade Sun 09-Sep-07 22:40:30

Thank you for all your replies, I will help her draft a letter.

She has complied with the tenancy and cleaned everything down before she left including all the paintwork. It was all left in immaculate condition.

I think the agents have been a bit naff they didn't even tell her any of this was in question they just wrote her a letter which included asking her why the wall paper on the ceiling was hanging down -err because there was a leak that the agents sent a plumber out to see to it (and they had no record of) doh, who paid the plumber??? A washer had gone on the inlet pipe to the toilet, my Mum came home from work and there was water on the dining room floor. When she reminded them they were like "oh, yes we remember"

My Mum is just way too nice. wink Will have to toughen her up!

LittleMinx Sun 09-Sep-07 23:07:03

I work in an estate agents, although on the sales side, not the letting side, BUT the agent sounds bloody useless to be frank.

If our landlords do not want smoking in their property it goes onto the tenancy agreement and the lettings staff make all potential tenants aware of that and it goes in the tenancy agreement.

In my opinion your mum has done nothing wrong. she stated she was a smoker, and if there was nothing in the tenancy agreement stating smoking wasnt allowed in the property i doubt very much they will be allowed to keep your mums bond money so although its hard, try not to worry too much.

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