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View Full Version : Deductions by LL - advice needed please!



thegamebird
17-03-2010, 07:56 AM
Hi. We recently moved out of a property, after a 2 year tenancy. We left the house in a very good state, as reflected in the check out.

The rent was £4500/month, and the agent (Hamptons) is holding a £9k deposit.

The heck-out stated that we were responsible for:

A lightbulb, a missing plastic plant container and a "few light scratches" to the granite worktop. We accept these and signed the inventory report in agreement.

The landlord has stated that they wish to repair or replace the missing piece of worktop, but have given us no indication of cost. They state that the worktop was installed "a matter of months before" we moved in. Our questions regarding this are:

1) Is the LL obliged to fine the most cost-effective remedy?
2) What would our proportion of the cost be if the LL can indded demonstrate that the worktop was brand new.
3) The scratches were caused by some over-zealous cleaning with a scouring pad on my part (silly, I know), and does anyone have any experience of repairing this kid of issue.

In addition, the landlord is asking us to pay to remedy a delapidation that the inventory has stated is their responsibility.

The en-suite bathroom is large with a huge shower and the walls are painted dark red. There is a ventilation fan, and a normail sized window. When we moved in the iventory stated that there were condensation marks to the walls (which there were), and a "few spots" to the ceiling (which there were).

These spots are now more significant, and are a direct cause of condensation gathering on teh ceiling in little pools, and the are orangey in colour as we beleive the condenstion is picking up the red of the walls. We know this as it used to drip down the walls and pool on the white skirting in little orange pools.

We brought up the issue of ventilation (in writing) to the landlord when we moved in and they verbally said that it was fine.

Now they are citing a comment on our check in "To prevent condensation, mould growth or build up -moisture is to be wiped off daily if necessary. regular ventilation of the prooperty is also required daily, Failure to keep mould under property control could render you liable for any subsequent damage so casued"

They want us to pay for the cost of cleaning the ceiling. My points are that we always ventilated the bathroom with the fan, and at times the window if necessary. If the bathroom has inadequate ventilation then is that not the responsibility of the LL.

Surely it is not reasonable to expact a tenant to wipe down a ceiling every day? In all the years we owned properties we have never needed to do that!

If anyone had been living in the house they would have experienced exactly the same thing, so surely it is not our responsibility?

Any advice would be welsome.

Thanks!

Paul_f
17-03-2010, 08:54 AM
As you have a common law tenancy you will have to take the landlord to court if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the dilapidations assessment, and cannot agree upon a figure.

Preston
18-03-2010, 22:21 PM
The landlord has stated that they wish to repair or replace the missing piece of worktop, but have given us no indication of cost. They state that the worktop was installed "a matter of months before" we moved in. Our questions regarding this are:

1) Is the LL obliged to fine the most cost-effective remedy?

The answer to all your questions depends, at least in part, on what was written in your tenancy agreement. As a general rule, though, the landlord must act reasonably and so must find a cost effective, though not necessarily the most cost effective, remedy.



2) What would our proportion of the cost be if the LL can indded demonstrate that the worktop was brand new.

Probably, the two years of your tenancy divided by the component lifecycle (in years) multiplied by the cost of the component.



3) The scratches were caused by some over-zealous cleaning with a scouring pad on my part (silly, I know), and does anyone have any experience of repairing this kid of issue.

Nope!



In addition, the landlord is asking us to pay to remedy a delapidation that the inventory has stated is their responsibility.

The en-suite bathroom is large with a huge shower and the walls are painted dark red. There is a ventilation fan, and a normail sized window. When we moved in the iventory stated that there were condensation marks to the walls (which there were), and a "few spots" to the ceiling (which there were).

These spots are now more significant, and are a direct cause of condensation gathering on teh ceiling in little pools, and the are orangey in colour as we beleive the condenstion is picking up the red of the walls. We know this as it used to drip down the walls and pool on the white skirting in little orange pools.

We brought up the issue of ventilation (in writing) to the landlord when we moved in and they verbally said that it was fine.

Now they are citing a comment on our check in "To prevent condensation, mould growth or build up -moisture is to be wiped off daily if necessary. regular ventilation of the prooperty is also required daily, Failure to keep mould under property control could render you liable for any subsequent damage so casued"

They want us to pay for the cost of cleaning the ceiling. My points are that we always ventilated the bathroom with the fan, and at times the window if necessary. If the bathroom has inadequate ventilation then is that not the responsibility of the LL.

Surely it is not reasonable to expact a tenant to wipe down a ceiling every day? In all the years we owned properties we have never needed to do that!

If anyone had been living in the house they would have experienced exactly the same thing, so surely it is not our responsibility!

You have my sympathy, this does seem a bit unreasonable.

Generally speaking there is no disrepair - and so no obligation on the landlord to "fix" anything - unless the condensation is the result of damage to the structure or exterior of the dwelling or unless the condensation has itself caused damage to the structure or exterior. For this purpose, damage to the tenant's decorations does not count as damage to the structure or exterior (Southwark LBC v McIntosh, 2002, amongst others).

Having said this, you might try arguing one or other of the following.

Firstly, the standard of repair expected of a landlord is dependent upon the "age, character and prospective life of the dwelling-house and the locality in which it is situated" (s11, LL & T Act 1985). In other words, a better quality property requires a higher standard of repair, all other things being equal.

Alternatively, if the landlord argues that there was no disrepair and so no requirement for a "fix" of any standard, then damage to decorations on a ceiling caused by condensation should be regarded as fair wear and tear. It would seem unreasonable to expect a tenant to wipe down ceilings on a daily basis in addition to using the ventilation and heating systems provided.

Good luck

westminster
18-03-2010, 23:09 PM
On the basis of the check-out inventory report stating "a few light scratches" on the kitchen worktop I do not think the LL has a case to charge a portion of the cost of replacing the worktop. If this came before a court I think it's more likely the LL would be awarded a nominal sum in compensation for such slight damage OR, if it's possible to re-polish a granite surface, then the cost of that.

The condensation marks sound to me like fair wear and tear. The comment on the check in report is not part of your contract unless your contract states that it forms part of it. Wiping ceilings after a shower is not a reasonable expectation.

Assuming you end up in a dispute situation, ask for the non-disputed portion of the deposit to be returned and post again on this thread with an update. If there is a provision for arbitration in the tenancy agreement, note that you do not have to agree to use arbitration (which is expensive) if the disputed sum is less than £5,000 (because the Arbitration Act says so - the small claims track is appropriate for a disputed sum of less than £5K, being a cheaper resolution method).

matthew_henson
19-03-2010, 06:53 AM
3) The scratches were caused by some over-zealous cleaning with a scouring pad on my part (silly, I know), and does anyone have any experience of repairing this kid of issue.


Thanks!

Would be repaired using a abrasive powder polish, should cost not more than £100 (provided the area is small) replacement would be overkill and I doubt a county court judge would award the cost of. Different if you had broken it in two

I presume it is a forced landlord who couldn't sell but had to move, they are very precious about their homes and do not understand the concept of wear and tear.

thegamebird
25-03-2010, 19:36 PM
I thought it may be worth updating this thread with the latest dealings with our LL in an effort to have our rather large deposit returned.

The tenancy ended on March 4th. We paid over £650 to have the property professionally cleaned using the LA recommended cleaner. We also paid to have the chimneys swept, £150 to have the garden made spick and span plus £200 to have 6 walls redecorated. Every wall was sugar soaped from top to bottom. The inventory check out took over 3 hours, and I thought the guy was anal in his detail, but at the end he declared the house was in "superb" condition. Apart from the light scratching to the worktop our responsibility was limited to a plastic plant pot and a lightbulb.

Our ex LL has attempted to re-let the property (yes, it's his own home) since December, but his setting an unrealistic rental value has meant that he has been unable to find a tenant (3 viewings in as many months). He has therefore decided to move back in.

So, on Tuesday I understand that he went to the property, the first time in many months, and nearly three weeks after we moved out.

He has since then come up with a list of other things he would like us to pay for, such as:

Taps that he states have not been cleaned and are "crusted" with calcium. (Shown "As Check In" on inventory)
Wooden floor with a "wine stain". (Shown "As Check In" on inventory) - he states the floor is "brand new", but the Check IN details shading to walkways, clearly indicating it wasn't brand new - the Check out shows ACI)
Curtains that have cat hair on them. (Shown "As Check In" on inventory)
Cobwebs and dust. (Not highlighted at Check ouit, and the landlord doesn't say where, to what extent)
The en-suite ceiling AGAIN (he pointedly ignored our dispute that this is not our responsibility)

He has also provided one written quotation for the repolishing of the grantite worktop at £480 plus VAT. We have established that this cost is to re-polish the entire worktop. We have asked for a second quote.

I am interested on your opinion as to the proportion we should agree to pay for on this. We understand anecdotally that the worktop is around 1 year old, and was shown on check in as "in good clean order" - but note - not brand new, which the landlord insists it is. The "light scratching" is to an area around 10cm2 - which is around 5-10% of the surface area of piece of granite.

The granite worktop was brought to our notice within 10 working days of us leaving the property, the other items yesterday - 15 working days after we left.

We have written back stating that all of the items to which he refers as "our responsibility", have not been shown on the check out inventory as damage or negligence. He has also not provided us with any costs, but just stated that they are our responsibility.

He sent us these comments yesterday at 10am, and we responded fully in writing by 3pm, and despite us asking for a swift response, he has not come back to us at all today.

We are now fed up of having to ask again and again to have the bulk of our deposit released. The deposit is £9k, and taking into consideration the items to which he refers, I have suggested that £8k is returned and the remaining £1k held whilst we negotiate. He has (as usual) totally ignired my written requests both yesterday and today, and is also not answering his telephone.

Maybe his wife is suffering from a "severe" allergic reaction to the cat hairs left on the lounge curtains (his excuse for insisting we have them dry-cleaned). Which is strange, as she sat happily, on two occassions over the past 2 years drinking tea, on our cats' favourite chair - and not an allergic reaction in sight!!

Having spoken with the TDS we are assured that as the LA is a member of their organisation that our deposit is covered, and they will arbitrate for us. But what gets me more than anything, is that we WANT OUR MONEY back and there is nothing I can do to make him provide written approval to the agent to release the lion's share. The TDS tell me that if he doesn't provide this before we file a dispute with them, then the WHOLE 9k goes to them, not the amount in dispute.

Oooo, this is such a pain!!