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elpi
14-04-2006, 09:31 AM
Hi guys.

My partner and i moved out of our flat on 24th February. We suspected that we might lose some money on the carpet, as i cat shredded a corner about 3 inches square.

Our landlords told us they were going to do some work on it after we moved out (we spent 3 months complaining about water running down the walls and huge damp problems), including taking down the wallpaper and damp-proofing it.

We didn't rent direct, but through a letting agent. We called the letting agent two weeks ago and asked where the deposit was. They said they were waiting for the carpet invoice to come back. Still no money 7 weeks after we moved out.

To compound the issue, our bills folder (with all bills, plus tenancy and inventory) has gone missing, so we don't have proof of anything.

Where do we stand on this? Surely they can't just keep hanging on to our deposit? They might have done goodness knows what damage to the carpets int he meantime, and decided we can pay for the lot!

Advice anyone?

Lynne

Worldlife
14-04-2006, 12:48 PM
Just having been to Court on a damages claim the Judge was quite firm and struck out all (false) arguments by the tenant on the condition of the property during his occupation

The incoming inventory signed by both the landlord and tenant was the key evidence concerning the property at the start of the tenancy. The Judge regarded as very fair the comments on the inventory recording minor problems.

Equally the Judge regarded as key evidence the outgoing inventory and rejected claims by the landlord for items not recorded on the outgoing inventory as defective.

What documents if any were exchanged in your case and were there photographs taken at the time?

How much deposit is being retained? Can you give us any idea of the age and the quality of the carpet.


To compound the issue, our bills folder (with all bills, plus tenancy and inventory) has gone missing, so we don't have proof of anything.

Is the tenancy agreement also missing?

You are therefore in a somewhat difficult position! You may wish to make a reasonable "without prejudice" offer to the agents for the damage they allege has been done to the carpet ( a bit lower to allow for negotiation). Tell them that you intend to take your claim for the return of the deposit to County Court unless you have a satisfactory reply from them within ten days.

Wonder if others agree that you Court case will be very weak without the information form your missing folder (but hopefully the agent does not know this) and you probably won't be able to go ahead with a Court claim.

MrShed
14-04-2006, 17:27 PM
I would disagree with Worldlife on this one. Why make an offer, as it is up to the landlord/letting agent to prove the damage, not for the tenant to disprove it? So as you can tell, yes I would disagree that any court case would be weak. The onus is on the landlord to prove damages, and in fact I think that this folder being missing would have very little bearing on the proceedings, if in fact any at all. The only issue I can see would be if the LA decided to adjust their incoming or outgoing inventories, which you obviously would then not be able to prove otherwise. However, realistically this level of unscrupulous behaviour I'm sure isn't all that common....I hope!

elpi
15-04-2006, 08:55 AM
There was no outgoing inventory taken by us. We did however, take photos, which they don't know yet. We have not seen an inventory from the landlort/LA.

I went there today, and someone new has moved in. I can see that they have replaced the kitchen carpet and a tiny central carpet. Not the living room (which was stained). I couldn't see into the other rooms.

The carpets were old when we moved in, and stained. Probably.. 5-10 years old maybe? (the photo http://homepage.ntlworld.com/emuette/saved/kitchen.gif shows the entire amount of damage we did to the kitchen carpet).

We don't know how much is being retained, this is part of my problem. we moved out over 7 weeks ago. new tenants have moved in, yet we have heard nothing.

Worldlife
15-04-2006, 11:16 AM
I would disagree with Worldlife on this one. Why make an offer, as it is up to the landlord/letting agent to prove the damage, not for the tenant to disprove it? So as you can tell, yes I would disagree that any court case would be weak. The onus is on the landlord to prove damages, and in fact I think that this folder being missing would have very little bearing on the proceedings, if in fact any at all. The only issue I can see would be if the LA decided to adjust their incoming or outgoing inventories, which you obviously would then not be able to prove otherwise. However, realistically this level of unscrupulous behaviour I'm sure isn't all that common....I hope!

Not certain how far we are apart on this one Mr Shed or why ...

Elpi wants his deposit back and if the landlord does not return it elpi will need to make a County Court claim.

I suggested that without some basic documents he will not be able to initiate a successful claim. Unless proceedings are instigated by the tenant for return of the deposit the landlord will just be able to hold onto the money.

Elpi has admitted that a small amount of damage has been done to an elderly carpet. Hence my recommendation for a low without prejudice offer to negotiate the return of the major part of the deposit. The threat of legal action from the tenant could well be seen by the landlord's as a realistic threat.

If a County Court claim is to be made the tenant must first prove the debt from the landlord. The landlord has to prove nothing until receipt of the claim. The landlord will thenl probably state a counterclaim justifying retention of whole or part the deposit and this will be the only point of time where proof is required from the landlord.

MrShed
15-04-2006, 19:52 PM
True Worldlife, but the only proof the tenant need provide in that case is proof of providing the deposit in the first place, by form of a receipt. Even so, that proof would only be required should the letting agent deny receiving it....very unlikely. Even THEN, the judge would still look at the case to see basically who they believed....it is unlikely a judge would believe in this day and age that a letting agent would let a property without requiring a deposit. I can see you point of view, I just happen to think it is wrong :p Would be interested to see what others thought however.

Worldlife
15-04-2006, 20:25 PM
I would have thought the Court would want information that a contract had been made i.e. the AST and what was stipulated in that agreement concerning the deposit and for the tenant to state whether or not that agreement has been complied with by him.

Proof that the deposit had been made would also be needed and evidence of the responses of the landlord to attempts to secure the return of the deposit.

The onus of proof is on the claimant to prove the alleged debt.

As the tenant concedes that there are damages I still stand by my original suggestion to negotiate with the landlord under threat of legal action to obtain the balance of the deposit after fair and reasonable deductions (I don't think animal shredding of a carpet can be considered fair wear and tear)

Agree with you it would be interesting to see what others think.

elpi
18-04-2006, 16:57 PM
ok, update on our situation:

Today a letter arrived from the LA requesting £18 by return of post, as the invoice was £410 for carpets, plus £48.17 for admin charge.

We have been charged for two new carpets in full. One was damaged, the other was not. (they claim an iron burn). We have also been charged for strips for the doorways (the existing ones were fine) and fitting.

Except that neither directory enquiries or the internet can find any mention of this business, and the letter we have been given with the charges from the "company" is unsigned and undated.

There is no breakdown of charges just "as quoted".

How should we proceed?

elpi

Worldlife
18-04-2006, 19:13 PM
Make a reasonable without prejudice offer in respect of the small amount of damage you did and demand the return of the balance of your deposit immediately otherwise you will commence a County Court action.

State you reject their claim of £458 17 as being excessive and totally inappropriate having regard to the age, quality and condition of the carpets when you moved in. The carpet could be repaired and did not need replacement . You deny the alleged iron burn mark was caused during your occupation of the property.

With a view to your County Court Claim ask the landlord to provide full details and particulars of the company providing the quotation as you have not yet been able to trace the business concerned and you are seeking more information about their trading background.

elpi
19-04-2006, 07:53 AM
Thanks for that.

About the fees, if it is not stated on the tenancy that a percentage of the fee will be charged, can they do that?

Worldlife
19-04-2006, 08:43 AM
Thanks for that.

About the fees, if it is not stated on the tenancy that a percentage of the fee will be charged, can they do that?

As I wrote previously....


State you reject their claim of £458 17 as being excessive and totally inappropriate having regard to the age, quality and condition of the carpets when you moved in.

Note that the £458.17 includes the administrative fee.

Get cracking on the return of your deposit and force the landlord come up with some satisfactory answers - he will have to do this in Court!!!

elpi
19-04-2006, 09:57 AM
It's all written, just waiting for my partner to come home to sign it. Thank you for your help! :)

Worldlife
19-04-2006, 10:10 AM
Please keep us updated on your progress.

PS Might be worth stating that if this matter goes to Court you will be also be claiming interest on the money that has been unreasonably withheld.

Good luck!!