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chrishyder
23-04-2008, 19:39 PM
Hi all,

Hope you can help and sorry if this is a long one, I'll try to keep it brief.

Essentially, I have just moved out of a property. Before I (and my other flatmate moved in) the two tenants (out of 3) we replaced trashed the hall carpets - few oil stains/cigarette burns etc.

Naively, when I signed the tenancy agreement, I didn't realise I was taking over their responsibilities and thus being liable for damage caused by tenants prior to me living at the house. One of the original tenants was still living at the property until recently, which was why a new agreement was never produced.

Now - firstly, there was never an inventory produced - the property was 'brand new' when the tenants moved in....so I hope this is a bit of a loophole.

Essentially, they want £350 out of our deposit to recarpet a hallway that is approx 24 square metres (ridiculous!). We've said that we're not happy with that and as the carpet is 3 years old, we're prepared to pay 40% of the cost of a REASONABLY priced replacement.

I'll copy and paste our e-mails below for you to have a look - I'd really appreciate it if you could tell me where we stand legally.


E-mail #1 (to me)
Chris/Natalie

John and I had a long chat about the our conclusion was the deposit of £750 should be returned less the cost of replacing the carpet in the hallways.

This is has come about because once the carpets were cleaned there were grease marks and two burn holes in the carpet which no amount of cleaning will repair. The other items thought the flat just little bids, light bulbs not working, oven cleaning, and deep cleaning in general etc John is prepared to let these things go.

The cost of this carpet unfortunately as it is almost the same area of the lounge, the cost is approx £350.00 plus vat. John has already paid out for the cleaning of the existing carpet and spent time in cleaning the flat. The decoration and repairs John said he would do anyway. So John is to only going to withhold £350 of the deposit.

So to be returned is £400.00 is this to be split two or three ways please advise me.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to let me know.

______

My response
Thanks for your response.

That's a fair comment regarding the hall carpet needing replacing - but after searching several sources and seeking a bit of advice, I'm not happy about either the value of the deduction and the fact that you have not deducted costs for what is defined as 'fair wear and tear'.

If a case like this was to be heard in a court it would seem that the assumption used is that a hallway carpet has a lifespan of approximately five years. Therefore, if a carpet was replaced early, the cost beared by the tenant would be the cost of the carpet minus a deduction for how long the previous carpet has been in use for.

In our instance, the flat was renovated back in 2005 (I believe) - and so the carpet has been laid for roughly three years. As the carpet needs replacing two years early, we should only be bearing a cost of 40% of the replacement value, as the carpets would had needed doing after roughly five anyway.

Regardless of this point, the cost that you have advised (£350+ VAT) in my mind is a little excessive, and again in accordance to advice provided to me, I would like to see details of the quotes that you obtained to choose someone charging this price. As I already have the dimensions of the hallway, I've spent the last ten minutes searching the web for example quotes and have come across a website called 'Carpet.it'.

They will do a 'SIESTA 30' carpet (same as what we have, it would appear) for £9.99 per sq/m fitted, which would total £239.76. They also do high quality hallway carpets for £350 fitted, but I do not think that the carpet fitted in the flat at the moment is of that quality.

EZCarpets.co.uk even do a hallway carpet fitted with underlay too called 'Antrim Twist', same colour as we had for £10.99 per sq/m, totalling £263.76.

This is based on a piece of carpet measuring 300cm x 800cm (much bigger than is needed, also takes into account the fact that the hall is T shaped) and therefore 24 square metres.

As the carpets have been laid for 3 years (approx) already, we should only be footing the other two years of wear (40%), making the final cost to us either £95 or £105.20 respectively for the carpets that I found online.

And lastly on this point, I have e-mails from you saying that this carpet was due to be replaced anyway and that it was being arranged to be replaced at the same time as the lounge carpet when we were still living there?

Both myself and Natalie feel that an offer of paying 40% (or 5 year lifespan minus how long the carpets have been laid for) of the best quote after seeking some legal advice is more than adequte, considering that you advised that this carpet was being replaced anyway, and also taken into consideration the fact that no inventory/schedule of contents was ever produced, so there is no legally admissible evidence that the carpet was new when the tenants first moved in. The carpets were disgusting when myself and Natalie moved in and I raised this issue to you and the response was along the lines that it was 'no big deal'.

I look forwards to your response on this note.

____

Email #2 (to me)

Chris

Without Prejustice


The formal quote I am waiting for, with regard to the lifespan of the carpet this is a non issue as the carpet is damaged not worn.

The offer is very fair looking at the whole picture but if you wish to look into further into the mater I will add all the other items in that I mentioned earlier and this will nearly double the total, also understand that John has not included VAT on your deductions.

Being fair is the way that you have always been treated and I am not about to change that. By the way the advice that you were given is a little misleading as the case in question has been quoted a number of times and is not as clear as the advice centres like to make be, It is not applicable in this case.

With regard to the carpet being new the whole building was new along with everything in it I administered the contract build and have all the bills. The legal position is very clear the flat was new in is entirety you entered the AST taking joint and several liabilities with your fellow tenants in regards to rent and condition.

I as far as I am concerned tithe mater is closed and I will proportion the remaining deposit fairly between you.

So, does anybody know where I stand? I can't see why we have to replace a 3 year old carpet with a brand new one - surely it's like-for-like (hence either second hand or we pay a percentage of the cost of a new one)? I'm happy to make a contribution, but it's just a little unfair that I'm paying for damage that occurred before we even lived there!

Thanks,
Chris.

justaboutsane
23-04-2008, 22:16 PM
He has to consider three years wear and tear .. damaged or not he has had 3 years use of the carpet!!! He is only "losing" 2 years worth of use therefore thats all you should pay for .. .not a legal begal but my point of view!

King_Maker
24-04-2008, 06:23 AM
Also, IIRC, "fair wear & tear" has to reflect the actual circumstances - i.e. a large family with 3 rottweilers is not going to be the same as a nun living on her own?

Ericthelobster
24-04-2008, 06:57 AM
Absolutely, wear and tear has to be taken into account.

The following might be helpful (though obviously it doesn't carry legal weight):
http://www.arla.co.uk/download/dealing_with_deps_disps_dams.pdf

But who are you dealing with? Looks like "John" is the landlord and the emails are written by an agent? If so, are they a member of a trade association (eg ARLA)?

In terms of carpet fitting, I expect to pay around £2.40 per square metre, which might help the calculations.

Hard to say whether the quote for the whole carpet is high, as obviously it depends on the quality of the original carpet, and it's very hard for a layman to look at a carpet and decide it's quality/cost, as there's a wide range. I certainly can't do it myself.

chrishyder
26-04-2008, 15:04 PM
Hi all,

Thanks for your replies - a few developments have surfaced which have made me more mad, and more determined!

I requested that cheques were posted to us for the £400 but have not specifically mentioned that we accept the £350 deduction and are not going to cash the cheques until we know were we stand legally.

Firstly, can we cash the cheques and say that we accept the cheques as part return of our deposit, minus the deduction for the carpets which we dispute?

Secondly, I spoke to the LA on the phone - he admitted that the flat was clean/tidy etc when we left, but he'd add on fees for imaginary cleaning if we challenged him for the carpet deduction(!).

Due to the lack of evidence from our side, I'm tempted to approach this from a different angle to get the remainder of our deposit back - as our deposits were not protected. Now, the thing is, I'm not entirely sure that they needed to be.

The tenancy agreement was started in November 2006. I moved into the property in August 2007, replacing one of the other tenants on the lease. Now a new agreement was NOT produced at this time - all that I did was sign a contract saying that "I confirm that with effect from today's date, you will be added to the tenancy agreement in place of Mr X who will be removed from liabilities in respect of said agreement. Any and all liabilities that arise in respect of the flat will be passed to you joint and severally with your co-tenants."

So, as this was after 2007, should our deposits have been protected due to the change in the agreement, or would this not be relevant as the tenancy was not 'renewed' from the orginal one made in November 2006 - we instead went onto a rolling periodic tenancy (nothing signed etc) after the current one expired?

Just thinking that we can chase him this way to get the remainder of the deposit, as he's playing dirty now after admitting no cleaning was done.

My last question - can the agent start adding on fees for cleaning etc (that was not actually done!) now that he has given cheques to us, or can he still amend the amounts if we went to court and double the deductions?

Thanks,
Chris.

EDIT: Eric- John is the landlord and Jason is the letting agent. Co-incidentally, Jason is John's son in law, so we also have a slight conflict of interest here! The LA is ARLA registered.

chrishyder
26-04-2008, 17:09 PM
Also,

I've just noticed this thread:

http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=10917

Which seems relevant to my issue. Now, the question is, if there's no inventory but there are receipts for items, would this be enough evidence to class an item as new, unmarked/damaged etc? In my mind, I'm not so sure it is as something could be damaged when installed etc that may not be detailed on an invoice.

Regards,
Chris

chrishyder
27-04-2008, 11:43 AM
Hi guys,

Just a quick bump to see if anyone has any ideas?

Got a meeting with my ex-housemates tomorrow to discuss where we're going with this, so would really, really appreciate any help or advice you can give!

Regards
Chris

Ericthelobster
27-04-2008, 11:49 AM
EDIT: Eric- John is the landlord and Jason is the letting agent. Co-incidentally, Jason is John's son in law, so we also have a slight conflict of interest here! The LA is ARLA registered.No conflict of interest, since the agent works for the landlord, not the tenant: he will always put the landlord's interests ahead of the tenant's if push comes to shove.

If the agent is ARLA-registered then it's a no-brainer - report him to ARLA pdq. He is clearly not abiding by their own code of practice as per the link I posted, and unfortunately for him, has put it all in writing.

chrishyder
27-04-2008, 12:04 PM
Hi Eric,

Thanks for the reply - in regards to the cheques we received, should we cash them and respond the LA advising that we have received cash for our deposit minus the deduction for the carpets, which is in dispute - or should we hold off?

I'll take a look at ARLA's website and report them also.

Regards
Chris

Ericthelobster
27-04-2008, 14:16 PM
Thanks for the reply - in regards to the cheques we received, should we cash them and respond the LA advising that we have received cash for our deposit minus the deduction for the carpets, which is in dispute - or should we hold off?Personally, I'm not sure, which is why I didn't answer that! Certainly under certain circumstances if you cash a cheque in poart payment of a disputed amount, it can be deemed to mean you've accepted it as full and final settlement, but I don't know whether that would be the case here, or whether you can circumvent it be some legal letter or other.

chrishyder
21-05-2008, 12:12 PM
Hi everyone,

Thanks for your replies so far.

I've had a reply from the LA which I'll post later, but really need to clarify something with you first!

If a property is brand new (ie: fresh conversion) when a set of tenants move in and no inventory is completed, where do they stand if deductions are made for damage?

Specifically, the LA has all invoices etc showing that the carpets were new, but would these be upheld in court or would an inventory still be required as my assumption is that an invoice does not detail the specific condition of the furnishings?

Many thanks.

Regards,
Chris

Ericthelobster
21-05-2008, 21:58 PM
If a property is brand new (ie: fresh conversion) when a set of tenants move in and no inventory is completed, where do they stand if deductions are made for damage?

Specifically, the LA has all invoices etc showing that the carpets were new, but would these be upheld in court or would an inventory still be required as my assumption is that an invoice does not detail the specific condition of the furnishings?

I would suggest that most judges would take a common-sense approach and if furnished with proof (receipt) that a brand new carpet was fitted immediately before a tenancy started, that by a balance of probabilities, the 6 cigarette burns were made by the tenant rather than the carpet fitter....