PDA

View Full Version : Told cannot return to property prior to end of tenancy



MrShed
12-07-2005, 12:17 PM
Hi,

We have just left our rented property, and the agent carried out a "check-out" inspection on the 28th of June at 10 AM to calculate damage deposit etc etc. Our tenancy, however, did not run out until the 30th, and we were told that we legally cannot reenter the property after the check-out. Is this legal? Rent was paid until the 30th. I must admit I do not have a copy of the contract, and so cannot check, but I'm unsure as to whether this would be legal regardless. The check out could only be done on the 28th according to the agent as they were fully booked after that time.

On a side note, I realise this will probably be a question asked time and again, but how would you define "fair wear and tear"? The agent wants to charge us to clean the carpet in living room and the three piece, as they are slightly worn. However, I would class this as fair wear and tear. Am I right or they?

Thanks in advance for the help!

MrWoof
12-07-2005, 19:05 PM
On a side note, I realise this will probably be a question asked time and again, but how would you define "fair wear and tear"? The agent wants to charge us to clean the carpet in living room and the three piece, as they are slightly worn. However, I would class this as fair wear and tear. Am I right or they? You were legally the tenant until the 30th, an inspection can only be done after you have left and preferably in your presence. As for 'fair wear and tear', its a matter of opinion but if the carpet and suite are worn, how would cleaning help?

MrShed
12-07-2005, 19:12 PM
Apologies....when I say worn, i mean it was "darkened"....general little bit of muck, that you would get from walking about normally. Dunno why he only wants to do it in living room tho it was the room we used least :| oh well

Basically, we had to book a check out with our landlord, and because it was a busy period had nothing on last day, only on 28th. At the check out(and previously by letter as well to be fair) it was said that we legally could not re-enter the property after the check out, and he took our keys. So I'm guessing what they have said is not the case?

Oh and sorry to add more questions :P but just heard that apparently the landlord is also going to charge us for damp damage, on the grounds that "we did not inform them of the faulty guttering to prevent further damage". We did verbally warn a contractor who came round to investigate any problems but that was it. However, as the landlord almost definitely has a clause in the contract saying there are quarterly inspections(would need to check but it is definitely in contract between agent and landlord), and these did not happen, surely these inspections are to spot such external structural repairs?

oaktree
13-07-2005, 08:11 AM
If it was "muck" as you say then unless it was there before you moved in it must be your muck and only right that you clean it or pay for it to be cleaned - in normal circumstances.

However, the agent appears to have denied you access to the property for the last two days during which you could have carried out any cleaning required that they picked up during their inspection.

I don't see why them being busy should affect you; its their business, how they control their time management is upto them. They should have worked around your tenancy not you around them.

Most agreements will have a clause requiring the tenant to notify the agent and/or landlord of any problems within the house (your agreement may not). Telling a contractor (unless he is there to specifically deal with that problem) would not be sufficient in my opinion.

Quarterly inspections are usually caried out to check on the how the tenant is treating the house rather that check the structural integrity of the property; however it would be hoped that if a tenant was to notice that, for example, a gutter had collapsed the day after an inspection, that they would actually notify someone rather than leave it for the next inspection and the subsequent damage that it would cause.

MrShed
13-07-2005, 08:25 AM
OK oaktree, thanks. Yeh realised when i described carpet etc better that it was most likely our responsibility! The only confusion I had about this is that someone somewhere said if there was a coffee stain on the carpet you should not be charged for it,as drinking coffee is fair use of a house and so fair wear and tear. This sounds rubbish to me as well though!

Still unsure about the damp thing though. I agree with what you are saying, but the contractor was there specifically to see if there were any problems. Also, the landlord has been around the property enough times(he was viewing prospective tenants around for about six MONTHS) that he would have seen it. And indeed when it was mentioned during check out, he knew what the problem was, despite having not been outside, which implies to me he knew about it previously. Know what you mean though, I wish I had sent him something in writing about it, as he is trying to get us on everything! Such as charging us for repainting walls which he said were repainted halfway through the tenancy, when they blatently were not, ludicrous!!

MrWoof
13-07-2005, 15:50 PM
Coffee stains are definitely not normal wear and tear but if the LL has been carrying out inspections and showing potential tenants around then whether he has implied that he's noticed a problem or not he should have seen it. His responsibility, not yours. As far as decorating is concerned, I had one tenant leave and found the walls so dirty, it looked like a coalman (remember them?) had lived there, the only reason I didn't charge them for cleaning was that the new tenants said that they weren't bothered as they would be decorating anyway. If the walls were clean then unless there is a clause in your tenancy agreement to say otherwise, you would be expected to decorate, as to taste, well you are living there not the LL. I do draw the line at Goths though!

MrShed
13-07-2005, 22:38 PM
The argument about the walls is that he says his workmen painted them, when you can clearly see they havent been painted for years, but he is blaming this on us. They hadnt been painted in 9 years I hear prior to us moving in :P can you guess it was a student let lol!

oaktree
14-07-2005, 08:02 AM
I shudder to ask but do you have an inventory of the property from when you moved in? and was it updated when the landlord repainted the walls?

MrShed
14-07-2005, 08:36 AM
Yes and no respectively....mainly because the walls were not actually repainted! I do not have a copy of the inventory, wasnt given one as far as i know, but we went through one at the start.

PaulF
14-07-2005, 08:40 AM
Answers to the poster!


A check-out must be conducted after the end of the tenancy, not during as it is worthless.
You don't have a right to be present at the check-out, only by invitation.
Preventing you from returning to the property after the check-out was conducted is a breach under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and could cost the landlord serious damages if you were to pursue it, as it was within the tenancy term.
The definition of wear & tear is "natural deterioration".

MrShed
14-07-2005, 09:44 AM
Thanks paul_f...useful, although I was aware of the fact that you didnt neccessarily have to be at the check out.

So a couple of final questions, paul:

- Does the fact we were prevented access make it difficult in legal terms for the landlord to deduct anything from our deposit?
- If the "painting" of walls in lounge was not marked on inventory since it was done, with us signing it, does this again make it very difficult for them to deduct money for this reason?

Thanks

PaulF
14-07-2005, 22:03 PM
Yes to both questions!

MrShed
24-07-2005, 21:42 PM
Well, sorry to dredge up an old thread, but got the deposit back yesterday(22 days after we left but never mind :P) and as expected he has screwed us(taken £800 in total!!!). I'm already going to write a letter back regarding many of the issues already mentioned here, but wanted to ask further advice/opinion on some stuff he has mentioned in the return correspondance, and some other general stuff!

- A wall had a hole put in it when a provided chair collapsed(not through our bad use btw!). He has charged us to fix the hole and painting the wall....is this ok, surely this is his responsibility as a flaw inhis furnishings caused it, and he was informed the same day.

- We have been charged £180 for a full "exit clean" - can he do this when there were only some very localised areas of cleaning, only like 2 bedrooms? Surely not

- Charged £250 for cleaning a three piece and three carpets! First of all, is this not vastly over the top? Secondly, do I have any kind of legal entitlement to see a receipt for the three piece being cleaned last year, as I dont believe it was? I wouldnt have thought so but still :P Also, in the estimate for the cleaning it says "floor wash/vacuum as appropriate" surely he cannot charge twice for cleaning the carpets?!?!

- £25 charged for a pine drawer knob when I found one within 30 seconds of looking in B&Q for £2. I realise they are not expected to hunt for the lowest price, but surely they should be expected to find a reasonable price?

- We were without a gas fire for much of the tenancy, due to it failing gas safety and it was refused to be fixed due to cost effectiveness. A second shower broke and was not fixed, on the grounds that "the downstairs shower was put in because the upstairs 1 was no good", before we moved in, despite us being shown around when both were in and not informed of any faults. Also, we were without hot water for two weeks when our boiler broke. Do I have any recourse about any of these items, or must they have been pursued during the tenancy? I didnt do anything but ask for the shower and fire to be fixed, and was told no.

- The cheque was made payable to my guarantaurs(sorry cant spell it) rather than me, even though I paid the deposit! Can they do this??

- They have sent me estimates rather than the requested receipts....surely they cannot deduct on this basis?

Sorry guys, know this is long winded etc haha, but any help on any/all of the points would be much appreciated.....I suspect this one will end up going to court!!

*edit* by the way paul, I know as you said I am entitled to all the deposit back due to problems at end of tenancy, but not wanting to push that yet coz ill no doubt have to go to court to enforce it, want to try and sort it between us first

Thanks in advance

MrShed
25-07-2005, 15:27 PM
Also, the duration on the tenancy agreement is "one year minus one day". I would read this as being, for example, 1st july til 30th june, as I would class a year as 1st july til 1st of july. However, someone else said they would class it as 1st july til 29th june. Who would be right here?

MrShed
26-07-2005, 10:44 AM
Anyone? :(

mjpl
26-07-2005, 13:42 PM
It would end on the 29th of July. The minus a day was used to avoid onerous stamp duty issues in the past but is no longer necessary.

I understand what Paul has said about the protection from eviction act but I suspect that this will be a long road to go down, particularly if you agreed to the early check-out and made no mention of the time about your rights being abused. Remember mutual agreement will often be accepted as binding by the courts.

All properties should be returned in the same condition that they were taken excepting FW&T. This can extend to a requirement for proof that the property was professionally cleaned at the commencement before demanding the same at the termination.

In order:

1) I would charge you for the hole in the wall. You are responsible for the property during your tenancy and while it is bad luck that the chair collapsed it was you using it at the time.]

2) £250 & £180 is extremely high and borders on unfair. Ask for proof of a clean at the commencement.

3) You have been charged for labour rather than the knob. To you it may appear an easy job but as an agent I have to find a contractor instruct him to find a replacement and then install it. Unlikely for a fiver.

4) You have a right of off-set regardless of what your contract says. However, ironically you have put your landlord in the driving seat by being a good tenant. He now has had all the rent and your deposit so you have nothing ot hold back. You could put an offset demand in writing but doubt you would get far.

5) I would say that you have an absolute right to see receipts.

I appreciate that Paul F provides absolute advice, however sometimes this does not take into account the stress and hassle factor. Yes there may be a breach of the protection from eviction act but pursuing it may not be so easy. If you have a solicitor ask him to draft a letter demonstrating the above and offering a settlement figure which is more reasonable. Alternatively ask the citizens advice bureau to do the same. It is better to come to an amicable conclusion.

Hope this helps

PaulF
26-07-2005, 17:08 PM
It would end on the 29th of July. The minus a day was used to avoid onerous stamp duty issues in the past but is no longer necessary.

I understand what Paul has said about the protection from eviction act but I suspect that this will be a long road to go down, particularly if you agreed to the early check-out and made no mention of the time about your rights being abused. Remember mutual agreement will often be accepted as binding by the courts. Not if the tenant wasn't advised in advance that an early check-out might prejudice his rights, so that wouldn't stand up and would be a legitimate defence.

All properties should be returned in the same condition that they were taken excepting FW&T. This can extend to a requirement for proof that the property was professionally cleaned at the commencement before demanding the same at the termination.

In order:

1) I would charge you for the hole in the wall. You are responsible for the property during your tenancy and while it is bad luck that the chair collapsed it was you using it at the time.] Sorry! Can't hold tenant responsible unless it was clearly misuse and it doesn't appear to be!

2) £250 & £180 is extremely high and borders on unfair. Ask for proof of a clean at the commencement. Northampton County Court ordered an agent to return £98 deducted for "professional cleaning" when there was no evidence to show it had been "professionally cleaned" in the first place. You should also give two or three written estimate of such costs before instructing a contractor whenever it's likely to be high as there is no way of knowing whether such a high charge is "fair & reasonable". I realise the time implications when a new tenant is on the horizon, but the tenant is clearly being welched here!

3) You have been charged for labour rather than the knob. To you it may appear an easy job but as an agent I have to find a contractor instruct him to find a replacement and then install it. Unlikely for a fiver.

4) You have a right of off-set regardless of what your contract says. However, ironically you have put your landlord in the driving seat by being a good tenant. He now has had all the rent and your deposit so you have nothing ot hold back. You could put an offset demand in writing but doubt you would get far. I would be issuing a summons through the SCC if my money wasn't returned in 7 days. Remember courts are much more tenant friendly when such high charges are deducted.

5) I would say that you have an absolute right to see receipts.

I appreciate that Paul F provides absolute advice, however sometimes this does not take into account the stress and hassle factor. Yes there may be a breach of the protection from eviction act but pursuing it may not be so easy. If you have a solicitor ask him to draft a letter demonstrating the above and offering a settlement figure which is more reasonable. Alternatively ask the citizens advice bureau to do the same. It is better to come to an amicable conclusion.

Hope this helpsI somehow think this landlord is not likely to be one with whom you can "negotiate"!

MrShed
26-07-2005, 19:15 PM
Sorry, but what do you mean by "right of off-set"?

And paul would you agree with the 29th date?

Thanks for all the help, greatly appreciated

mjpl
27-07-2005, 13:45 PM
You may have noticed that most contracts of yesteryear required that the rental be paid without off-set. In simple terms this required that rental be paid in full to the landlord without any deduction.

Off-set is an amount that may be deducted from the rent to pay or compensate for any payments that had to be made dealing with the landlords repairing obligations.

An example might be a boiler breaking down while the Landlord was on holiday in the winter. Clearly most tenants will not sit around for two weeks without heating and will instruct the work to go ahead. The off-set would be deducting the cost of this work from the next payment of rent.

As you are no doubt aware from many of the posts in the last week or so, the OFT has become involved in the lettings industry and the Unfair Terms Legislation has taken large steps in combating clauses they considered to be one-sided. One of the first to go was the refusal of off-set.

If you had deducted monies during the tenancy for inconveince this could have been claimed as off-set. This will be a little harder now though I am afraid.