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View Full Version : Tenant Leaves Window Blinds - 3 months later wants them back! What to do?



scottandrach
03-10-2011, 00:47 AM
Hello
Tenant ended tenancy by giving 1 month notice. During tenancy, it appears she erected window blinds (contrary to tenancy agreement) and removed the curtains we'd put up.
She left at end of tenancy leaving the blinds.
Agent advised us she'd left blinds i.e abandoned them.

Some 3+ months later she now advises she wants the blinds back.
What should we do?

Unbeknown to us she maintained a key to the property (i.e. did not return all keys at check-out) whilst we marketed house for rent / sale and did not take them during that time 3 months!! - although she did enter to return the curtains she'd taken!

The house is now subject to contract in a sale..... she says she wants money for them.... but she still owes us more than the deposit in rent arrears and invoices for damaged and repairs required.

If we say she can have them,would we be within our rights to demand that the walls are "made-good" and that the holes left are filled in and the walls repainted to make them look as though they'd not erected blinds? Thank you for your replies

Ericthelobster
03-10-2011, 06:41 AM
Unbeknown to us she maintained a key to the property (i.e. did not return all keys at check-out) whilst we marketed house for rent / sale and did not take them during that time 3 months!! - although she did enter to return the curtains she'd taken!Presumably you've changed the locks now, though?


If we say she can have them,would we be within our rights to demand that the walls are "made-good" and that the holes left are filled in and the walls repainted to make them look as though they'd not erected blinds?Yes, but this is something to be added to what she owes you in arrears and damage (even though it sonds like you're struggling to get paid); you can't hold on to her property as 'hostage'. However - as far as I know you only have to hold on to tenant's stuff for 3 months after they've left (somebody else will be able to confirm?) and if so, that should get you off the hook.

ram
03-10-2011, 07:43 AM
Surprised you have not sued her already, for none payment of rent ! etc.

You could say, sorry, house sold, but we will add the cost of storage of blinds
to the money you owe us, and you did not take them with you, and more
than 3 months have gone by, therefore are now subject to abaondonment.

You also have not returned the keys, and rent is payable until such time as
you return the keys.

Change the locks today / tomorrow before any communication.

If it were me, I would send a strong letter. ( in the words, You must
be joking, ou owe rent, owe for damage, you are taking the piss )
Do not communicate by email or phone or text. You want a REAL
home address, as anyone could be emailing you or texting you.

Don't be soft. and change the locks.

R.a.M.

LesleyAnne
03-10-2011, 08:44 AM
Did you retain the deposit to cover the lost rent/repairs that were necessary? Did you have an inventory at the start and end of the tenancy proving the difference in condition? Was the deposit kept in a protection scheme and was the prescribed information given to the tenant at the time? If so, was the whole deposit released to you at the end of the tenancy, with the tenant's agreement?

To prove damaged and retain the deposit, you need a full inventory or check-in/check-out report. Your agent should be able to supply this. Write to the tenant, enclosing a copy of the 2 inventories/reports, and stating how much the repairs and missing rent totalled (copies of invoices would help here). State that you are taking legal advice to reclaim the cost of repairs, missing rent etc, over and above the retained deposit amount. Also point out that by not returning all the keys, the tenant has not formally ended the tenancy, so you are within your rights to charge them the additional rent since they left the property, up to present date. In fact you should persue the claim for anything owed by the tenant, regardless of whether the property has been sold or not - don't let them just walk away!

As advise above, change the locks NOW. TBH it is always wise to change locks between/after tenants, as just because they return all the keys you gave them, if doesn't mean there are not copies floating around amongst friends/family etc.

thesaint
03-10-2011, 09:03 AM
Change locks.
Ignore ex tenant.

Lawcruncher
03-10-2011, 09:22 AM
We could have a discussion about whether the blinds are fixtures or fittings. If fixtures, any right the tenant had to remove them was lost when the tenancy came to an end.

Whatever the legal position, the practical reality is such that you can take thesaint's advice and ignore the ex-tenant.

scottandrach
03-10-2011, 20:28 PM
I am a landlord who lives in the USA so have an estate Agent as managing agent (pay through the nose 14% for full management).

Locks were changed the day the Agent advised the ex-tenant had entered the house and left the curtains she'd taken. Trespass is what the Police called it. She had been asked (for 3+ months) to return the curtains to the Agents.

Now only Agent holds keys.

Check-in & Out / inventory handled by Agents. Curtains noted as in at check-in, missing at end, blinds noted as being erected and left at check-out
House was 15 months old when ex-tenant moved in. Had never been lived in.

Deposit of 3K is currently in DISPUTE - dispute raised by her - not me, for rent arreas 2K+, and other damage / repairs to doors, carpets etc needed at the end of tenancy. Also now charging for keys lock changing necessitaited by her "forgetting to hand a "spare key" back at check- out.
She is disputing the entire deposit to "cover the costs of the blinds".

According to the Agents - ex-tenant owes me 3,005.26 and there is only a 3K deposit - so I'm not quibbling the 5quid ( I know big of me). So, I can't add the cost of the repairs of damage left by her when she removes them.

THere is a little more to the story. I think she is being a little vindictive as in the 4th month of her not returning the curtains (some 8K's worth )I contacted the police to advise them as I needed a crime report number for the insurance company in order to claim the theft / loss on insurance. She returned them to the house (with the key she should never had still had) the same weekend the police started their investigations(as far as I understand). So I think she has had her nose put out of joint. (I didn't raise a claim with insurance as she returned them). I also didn't raise the dispute with the TDS once she'd returned the curtains as I expected her not to contest her rent arrears (final months rent plus previous months late rent penalties as per contract).

However, that said - she had 3 months access to the house post-tenancy (that we didn't know about) to remove the blinds should she have really wanted them. Now I think she is just being pissy..... she didn't mention the blinds until the check-out noted the curtains were missing, she was chased and finally gave them back.

We're waiting on the TDS to adjudicate on the deposit. I want this to go away - but can't afford just to let her damage the house as I can't expect the buyer to have to repair and repaint (and why should I either). This tenant has put us off being a landlord (it's not a business for us - although I appreciate it should be) - hence the sale.

any other advise from those in the know? Thank you.

theartfullodger
03-10-2011, 21:38 PM
Have you got HMRC non-resident certification??

scottandrach
03-10-2011, 22:51 PM
re non res HMRC.... no we haven't. We got moved to the US with work and decided to rent the place out until we returned. (We are renters in the USA!) We have paid / had deducted from the agent overseas tax and regular VAtax whilst we have rent it. My husband has no UK income. I have declared this income as my sole UK income - which it has been.

The house has now - since we started marketing for sale, become my main UK "residence" as I am a stay at home mum to my 3 lads (4yrs, 3 yrs and 11 months). We do not own any other property in the UK or abroad - as I said we are currently tenants in the USA ourselves.

what are you getting at? CGT? I hope that as it has not provided income in the 2011 tax year,(it's been on the market since the tenant gave notice in April 2011) and that it's our only house / property that we won't be subject to it. We have no other UK assets or liabilities.:(nod): thank you for your comments and replies in advance.

scottandrach
05-10-2011, 01:17 AM
Thank you LesleyAnn - R a M and others for your comments.

I failed to mention that the ex-tenant wants money from me for the blinds. I don't believe she actually wants to take them out - she had ample time to. She just wants to extort money.

From what I see there are a number of points I need to consider

#in not returning all keys - was tenancy contractually ended on May 23rd
# if contract not ended - is rent due for the period until the key was returned? It would be GBP4,500 plus late fees
#in fixing the blinds to the walls (breach of contract term) - the blinds could be considered fixtures and as such part of the house
# if the tenancy was contractually ended - then by holding a key she had approx 3 months unhindered 24/7 access to remove the blinds should she have wanted to - so does this comply with the law governing abandonment of tenants property? did I need to physically serve her notice to come and remove the blinds or would her ability to have collected her property should she have chosen to be enough?

# can i still sell the house if it's not resolved?

i have no hope in hell of getting any money out of her for costs if I were to remove the blinds and make good the walls myself - as she owes me more than the deposit anyway.

Oh and to add more colour to this whole sad case, the tenancy ended by the tenant giving notice because they'd split up romantically and no longer wished to live together (understandable).... he cleared off before she gave notice.

Thank you in advance for your comments.

mariner
05-10-2011, 02:17 AM
Don't get involved with T. Give her the 'middle finger'. Add the facts about keys, blinds fitted without knowledge, theft of curtains, timescale etc in the counterclaim to DPS ADR. Let them sort it out. The inventories support your case.
The late payment fees may be a problem. How much? when applied? Consider substituting interest at 5% pa from date rent due & unpaid.
The tenancy ended when the Ts notice expired. If she entered property after that date she was a trespasser, as Police confirm. Equally arguing that T did not end til keys returned, weakens that assumption and T may claim agent entered 'her' property without Notice or consent. As you say you are likely to get no more than deposit back. You are under no obligation to agree to DPS ADR, you could sue T for damages and unpaid rent in County Court, poss need Solic if you cannot attend in person. Still got the problem of recovery but T would have CCJ on credit record.
Yes you can sell house whilst this is ongoing. You may be liable for CGT if more than 3? years since you lived there.