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Day
20-12-2005, 17:49 PM
OK - odd tenant has moved out, and in his wake we have discovered the place to be covered in cat hairs and muddy paw prints (i agreed to the cat) a deep hole (a HOLE, not because it is threadbare or worn) in the arm of the sofa, a throw with a stain that looks like paint, and three stained sofa cushions.
Tenant is disputing any damage, and refused to pay for the place to be professionally cleaned to get rid of the cat hairs.
Shockingly the letting agents are siding with him (now why should that shock me) they have stated they can get the place cleaned but i'll have to pay, and the inventory clark did not notice a hole. Several times in the past we have disputed the inventory because basically the clerk did not do his/her job and even missed things out like a sofabed that we put in, or another classic, did not notice the colour of the walls had changed etc. I have asked for the inventory clerk to go round with the agent to view the hole.
Am i in the right to dispute this? I am sick of people cacking up my property then not being accountable for their actions and paying to have done what needs to be done. I am willing for there to be wear and tear, but a ruddy great hole in the arm of a sofa? That goes too far! What say you?

Ericthelobster
20-12-2005, 17:56 PM
Sounds like your argument should be with the inventory clerk to me...

MrShed
20-12-2005, 18:44 PM
Hang on. I'm not so sure eric. Do you have an inventory that was done on the tenant moving in, and signed by the tenant? If so, I fail to see any defence they have with regards paying for it.

susan 2
21-12-2005, 09:54 AM
Day - is there some reason why you cannot do your own inventories? They are not difficult. We have always done our own. Then go round together with the new tenant when they move in, and agree any marks etc which are then noted. From what you have said I think it would be fair to have the place professionaly cleaned, then deduct from the bond. So long as you keep the receipt and take a few photos showing before and after, he will not suceed if he goes to the small claims court. We have had that sort of problems with cats which is why I will not have cat owning tenants. The flat usually smells of cat p*** as well which is horrible. Yes you are right to dispute this!

Day
21-12-2005, 13:15 PM
I cant do the inventory myself as i live in the Caribbean, so a bit too far away from the UK!
My parents have gone round and taken photos, and i cannot see why the agents are telling me that i must pay for someone elses mess, it just doesn't make sense.
The inventory people they use are crap, so i am going to insist that the agents themselves go round and take a look.
This is my last ever long term tenant, i am now going to let the house as a holiday let, and also i'll be able to use it myself. To be honest i'll be glad to get out of this long term letting game as the law and the agents appear to benefit the tenant to the detriment of the landlord. The holiday let business seems as if the landlord has more rights - lets hope so!

MrShed
21-12-2005, 13:19 PM
I cannot see the issue the agents are talking about. It is irrelevant if the check out inventory clerk missed the hole, as it has since been spotted, so it has been noticed. The only problem I can foresee is the initial inventory. If they have done their job properly, they should have filled out a detailed, accurate inventory, and got the tenants to sign. If this document is present, and accurate, then the tenants can have no argument in any charges. If it is not, then you need to pursue the agents for negligence. I would suggest, regardless, that you get rid of the agent ASAP, as why on earth they are saying that you have to pay is beyond me. Do the agents still have the deposit?

Day
21-12-2005, 13:55 PM
Yes, an inventory was done at the begining and signed by the tenants. The sofa in question was described as a 'bit flat from use' i.e. no hole in the arm. It was also described as clean, no mention of cat hairs. The throw was brand new and no stains were noted on the inventory and likewise with the cushions.
This is the second time this has happened to me, the last lot of tenants left a HUGE coffee stain on the carpet, which the inventory totally missed, so i had an arguement with the tenants then and finally got some money to replace the carpet.
I cannot see how the agents can justify someone damaging property and leaving the place unclean and not taking it out of their deposit.
The agents have frozen the deposit until the despute is resolved.
I am getting rid of the agents, and entering in to the holiday let business where i will employ a 'manager' to oversee the property.

MrShed
21-12-2005, 13:57 PM
As I understand it, the agent cannot release the deposit unless you permit them to do so. So I would suggest that you tell the agent that you will be removing the money for the cleaning and repairs, and then tell them to release the rest to the tenants. They would, I believe, have no right to refuse this - there would certainly be no legal comeback for them, it is you as LL who would be responsible if they decided to sue.

Day
21-12-2005, 18:22 PM
Oh yes, another item the inventory clerk missed - the tenant replaced a window that he had put a cat-flap in, but the gloss work to the frame and where the new putty is has not been painted - and this was missed on the check????? I am prepared to believe the tenant had casually thrown a throw over the hole in the sofa arm, but how this have been missed.
Agents saying that because the tenant signed the inventory check, that i dont have a leg to stand on? Hello? Of course he is going to sign a check in which he gets away with cacking up my property!!!!!!!!!!!
Still fighting my corner and have asked for them not to release his deposit until i have obtained quotes.

lucid
21-12-2005, 18:52 PM
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of what really happened re your hole. imagine the case is disputed and goes to court with regard to the return of the tenants deposit. What is the evidence that the judge wil decide upon.

The signed inventory at the start
and the check out details.

Are you saying that there are signed documents, by the tenants and your agents representatives to say these things were ok at the time of checkout?

If so then and the tenants say that as per the documents these things were ok when they left then what have you got to prove otherwise?

What evidence do you have to show that this damage was not done after the tenants left?

The decision will be based on the evidence. You may not like the answer but your dispute may end up being with the agents and if it was disputed in court with the tenants, who may sue for their deposit back and you lost then you would be liable for costs also.

Before you do anything try to be impartial from the situation, consider the balance of the evidence from an outside point of view. And consult a solicitor with regard to the cost and likely outcome from suing the agents. You will have to check your contract with them carefully.

Didn't you do this when you first set up your contract with them? Work out the costs of getting the things fixed and decide if its worth all the hassle of court, costs etc.

At the end of the day it may be easier to patch the sofa, clean the property, paint the putty and by a couple of cheap cushions and rugs than resign yourself to a lengthy legal dispute.

Just learn for next time just do the job properley yourself or get someone who can and that means checking they can first by exploring all avenues of possible dispute before you sign a contract with them (the agents).

Day
22-12-2005, 12:19 PM
Thanks for your insight. My problem is that i cant just pop over and paint the putty, repair the hole as i am in the Caribbean, so am reliant on professionals to do this, and it adds up.
I am just furious with the inventory clerk who failed to see blindingly obvious damages - for the third time i might add.
I really dont want to go to court with it, i just simply dont have the time and i'm not in the country, so i am trying to get the tenant to cough up at least some of the money that will serve as compensation, as you are right about the evidence. It is all i can do, so i am holding his entire deposit for now in the hope that he will do the honourable thing and pay for the consequences of his actions, and pigs might fly!

lucid
22-12-2005, 15:16 PM
Yes i undertand precisely what you are saying,...but you have just said that you are withholding the deposit until they cough up. The point being that under the circumstances that you have stated you leave your self open to legal action being taken against you.

Morally you may be right but all it takes is the tenant to consult a solicitor, maybe even on the basis of attempting to get some of the deposit back and who will then look at the evidence and probably issue proceedings against you to return the lot. Then believe me it will start to cost you.

Have you spoken to the tenants personally about the damage and the deposit To explain the situation and come to a compromise? Just with holding it without doing so is far more likely to precipitate an action against you.

MrShed
22-12-2005, 22:17 PM
Couple of points:

- "Are you saying that there are signed documents, by the tenants and your agents representatives to say these things were ok at the time of checkout?" As lucid said.....you haven't answered this. If there are NOT, then you have every right to deduct - the tenants have no legal right to be present at an inspection, and so an inspection can be carried out after they leave, so your inspection where the damage was spotted would be valid IMO in this case.

- Personally, I would suggest making the deductions anyway, after discussing with the tenants if you do not reach a compromise. If they know they caused the damage, they will be very reluctant to go to court. If they then do take you to court, simply don't contest it and give them the money - may have a small court fee to pay, but for the fairly slim chances of it happening I believe it is worth it. Or even do contest them, you never know you may win - judges can vary!

- If after all this you still lose the money, then I would demand that the letting agent pay for it - after all, it is their negligence. If they do not, take them to small claims court.

Day
23-12-2005, 12:17 PM
Thanks for all the advice. I have decided to retain just a part of the deposit money, whilst i have reasonable time to obtain a repair quote.
The tenant did ask for my address so he could seek legal representation, so i gave him that, no problem.
Yes, there was an inventory signed both by tenant and inventory clerk. However the previous two occassions the inventory was taken (and signed by both), the inventory clerk had missed out and extra sofa we had put in, a extra shed in the garden, the colour change of both walls and a rug. In otherwords he just copied what was on the previous inventory and didn't bloody look at the house. The time after that he missed a huge coffee stain on the carpet, which the exiting tenants agreed they had made and paid some money towards a replacement carpet. On both occassions the agents gave back the money that i had to pay for the inventory, admitting that he had not done his job. So i have a clear pattern of negligence on part of the inventory/agents. And it's happened again. I'm not sure if this would all help if it goes to court, but i am sure it would. Lets see.
Money is not a problem, i really dont need his money, but i believe in people being accountable for their actions and justice. So let him take me to court, not phased at all about it, like you say i can just not contest it, or i can contest it and take that gamble and see what happens.
I mean i would not walk in to someones home and damage some furniture and say 'Bye, thanks for the cup of tea, see you later' and expect to get away with it!