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Please help re flat deposit
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# 1
EagerLearner
Old 14-07-2006, 11:13 AM
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Question Please help re flat deposit

EDIT December '06 - If you are planning to embark on this thread, bless you! It has more ups and downs that a yo-yo, so join the 'house of fun' (on the up moments!) and read on...



Please, please give us any advice you can as we had never rented through an agent before and don't know what to do right now.

We paid deposit of £625 to letting agent 2 years ago and did full inventory when we moved in, flat reasonable order but dated, no major faults but we noted old carpet, stains, chipped paintwork etc.

We moved out 4th June 2006. It has been nearly 6 weeks and still no deposit back - we have only just yesterday been advised that the landlady is estimating 'over £800' in costs such as:

- Stained carpets (they were already quite stained and sun damaged when we moved in and any additional stains we caused would be wear and tear?) - she says we have to pay half the cost of new carpet in the living room
(£200 to us) but we know that even months ago she wanted to replace all the carpets anyway just because the old ones were so ancient and had years of wear and tear.

- Cleaning - £75 - this is completely unfair as we cleaned the flat top to bottom

- Replace radiator grille/cover on electric storage heater due to a stain on it - £90 (!!!) - We could not remove the stain but surely we contribute a fair amount towards the grille, not the entire cost? Plus it already had a stain when we moved in, which we noted on the inventory.

- Replace blinds x 3 due to some small pale stains - £45 - again, contribute a fair share, not brand new blinds? Besides we only marked 2 blinds and she bought 3 new ones. Plus there is a £30 'installation' fee.

- Window cleaning - £35 (we thoroughly cleaned all internal windows and were told not to worry about external as it's a second floor flat).

- Pencil mark inside rim of washing machine - £10 (although this was on our original inventory!)

- Cleaning oven - £20

- Painting - £150 - She's redecorated the whole flat and wants us to pay for the cost! We mentioned on inventory that there were scuff marks and damage to paintwork.

Not to mention the fact that she completely gutted the entire bathroom in our last month there which created a real mess and no doubt is why there is so much 'dust' mentioned on the check-out inventory (in places we couldn't even see with the naked eye). We cleaned what we could but she never got professional cleaners in to clear up after the building works were finished. Plus some of the paint prob got chipped whenmoving the old bath out and new bath in, inside the flat and in the hallway.

These are just some of the verbally estimated costs from the landlady - no proof or documents have been provided by her as of today.

I could understand if we'd set fire to the place and graffitied it we'd lose the deposit, but we left it in excellent condition.

Please help - she's completely rennovated this retirement property and now expects us not only to lose our £625 but claims she will make us pay more on top as well (another £75ish).

I believe this is possible 'betterment by the landlord' according to arla.co.uk but we don't know where to turn as the agents are not being helpful.

We're going away tomorrow and I know I will worry about this the whole week now.

Please help.

Thank you

EagerLearner
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Last edited by EagerLearner; 21-02-2007 at 2:00 PM.
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# 2
Dead_Eye_Jones
Old 14-07-2006, 11:24 AM
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The landlord has to PROVE that it was YOU that damaged their property. They must only charge you for damage, not normal wear and tear. They must also provide you with full and clear invoices for ALL costs.

Get in touch with your local CAB (cit advice - google 'em), they will help you with standard letters to send, be prepared for court action - this is not as scary as it sounds. A small claim costs around £60(?) and will normally find in favour of the tennant, assuming you are in the right of course. The burden of proof is on the landlord - you DO NOT have to prove you didnt do it, they have to prove YOU did.

Landlords always try it on in my experince, get used to it, many seem to think the deposit is an excuse to get some extra cash, although more often I just dont think they realise what they are allowed to charge you for. The redecorating for example is a total joke, im afraid that a few scuffs must come under wear and tear, you have to be in the property and cant be expected to tip toe around. Had you splattered paint over the walls then fair enough...

Get a letter out asap, threaten a small claim, take her to court, if what you say is true then you will win the claim. In my experience landlords know this and just pay up to save the hassle.

Let us know how it goes
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# 3
EagerLearner
Old 14-07-2006, 11:31 AM
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Thanks Dead_Eye_Jones - we're at our wits end as we were counting on getting money back, not owing her more.

There is wear and tear and we don't know what she can fairly charge for.

The stain on the radiator is not removable. but the radiator still works perfects, just doesn't look very nice. As Economy 7 is an old system, it will cost £300 for the grille - I don't think it's fair for her to charge us that.

The stains on the blind we tried to remove with vanish as soon as they happened, the blinds are cream and these stains are a slightly darker shade of cream - you wouln't really notice them so it's unfair to get a brand new blind at our expense...

Trying the CAB all morning but can't get hold of them for love nor money.

Argh... I am trying hard to think about my holiday tomorrow but - she's a dragon!

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# 4
snake-metal-mama
Old 14-07-2006, 4:15 PM
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if I may .. take a deep breath ... then concentrate on enjoying yr holiday.

Even if you do have to go thru the courts (or threaten to) it is certainly NOT worth loosing sleep or pleasure in a holiday that I'm sure you saved hard for and well deserve.

My best wishes go with you and I hope it turns out ok in the end ... dont waste time worrying about what you cannot, at this moment in time, sort out.

Now, if only I could follow my own advice LOL
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# 5
lynzpower
Old 14-07-2006, 4:48 PM
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Eager learner- Ive been where you are now, and its landlords like this that give others a bad name.

Instead or even as well as CAB, you might want to talk to these chaps http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/index.cfm?request=c308 the private lettigs officer at my council was sterling, and knew the law backwards about what was reasonable and not. My old landlady tried to do us for an potted plant that karked it. I wonder if we were both letting off the same witch? Probably not, there seems a few too many bad apples in the letting game trying to make themselves an unlawful few notes.

You are in the right, you just need to the small claims court to order so. Any letters and particulally phone calls should be noted from her on in and can be thought as stressful, add these to your claim for stress.
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# 6
EagerLearner
Old 25-07-2006, 4:17 PM
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Thanks so much everyone - am now back from hols only to find that (surprise) still no news even though we were away for a week.

Have called the agent and they say all they can do is call her and if she doesn't call back they keep trying. They are only calling once a day though as she's ditched them, so they don't consider it a priority.

We're completely stuck because as long as she doesn't post that list/quotes and sign the release paperwork, the agent will not release funds.

Lynzpower - I have e-mailed the council, thanks so much for that link. I think this will end up in court even though we just want to be rid of it all.

The reason being is she's a witch and there's no way she's redecorating her flat with our money!

Any other ideas most welcome whilst we're in limbo...

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# 7
shuttleworth96
Old 25-07-2006, 4:52 PM
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Know exactly how you feel about this. Went through the same situation last year with my daughter's flat. Took 3 days to clean the property from top to bottom and they still charged us for "professional cleaning" throughout because the inventory clerk said there were a few finger marks on the back of the kitchen door and on the kitchen cupboards!!! She must have had x ray eyes because nobody else could see them!! Also the bathroom was grotty when my daughter and friend moved into the flat but we did the best we could to clean it up. The inventory clerk noted on her report that "The bathroom had not been cleaned for check out" A blatant lie. She's already amitted that the bathroom was to be retiled but we still ended up paying for it to be professionally cleaned!!! I think it is an absolute scandel they these people continue to get away with the sort of behaviour.

Am having problems at the moment regarding my daughter's current house - off to London tomorrow. If you haven't lost the will to live by now you can read all about it in "Landlord Nightmare"
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# 8
Loretta
Old 25-07-2006, 7:25 PM
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Default Please help re flat deposit

I believe that there has been a recent court decision which makes it quite clear what is damage and what is normal wear and tear, don't know the details but someone may point you in the right direction. You are acutually allowed to 'live' in the prpoerty you are paying for!

I have a cleaning company and we clean very expensive properties in the London area, the highest rent so far is 24,000 a month! I always think that there is a bunch of landlords who think that the rent is not enough and they are entitled to the deposit as well, a sort of bonus to add to the school fees fund!! but this is changing quickly.

Don't worry, don't talk to the landlord on the phone from now on, everything in writing from now on. Send letter to both letting agent and landlord giving them say 7 days notice to return deposit or produce proper written evidence why they think they are entitled to keep it. I think that 7 days after all this time is quite reasonable. The agent is no longer interested as the landlord is no longer a client, the landlord is not interested with bringing this to a speedy conclusion because she has your money and is not in a hurry to hand it over. It is you that needs to get your money back as quickly as possible so you must speed this up and start 'running' this situation, it is you that wants something, stop waiting, you could wait for ever. Tell them - 7 days or you will issue court proceedings, this is nothing to worry about, very informal, you will either win, whichmeans that you will either win and you will get your money back or you will lose and be no further worse off. Don't be afraid of the courts, a summons can sometimes concentrate the mind no end.

Good luck let us know what happens
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# 9
clutton
Old 26-07-2006, 1:49 AM
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if you have a good inventory from the first day of your tenancy this may stand you in good stead. Did you take photographs when you left ? That would have been the clincher evidence. let us know how you get on
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# 10
huglebear
Old 26-07-2006, 8:46 AM
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I used to work as an accomodation adviser at a university. My knowledge of the law is out of date but the good news is it has only got better for tenants in the internvening 4 years and you would certainly have won this case four years ago. The other posts are dead right when they say this woman is trying it on. It is also good to remember that the agent is also partially liable because they have taken money off her and set up the contract. It would be as well to remind them of this if they 'can't get hold of her'. Remember they deal with her all the time and that sounds like a convenient excuse. Do contact the CAB - it may mean taking time off to go and sit in your local CAB office if necessary as they are often short-staffed. They can write to the agent as well as to the landlord. If you are in the Brighton area The Cowley Club (London Road between Sainsburys and Co-op) will also have contacts who can provide tenant-friendly housing advice. Most landlords have a patchy understanding of the law. Ensure you have evidence that you paid the rent on time (bank statements if not a rent book). You can probably also do them for not having proper records, which they rarely keep, while that will make the court think you are reliable.
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# 11
EagerLearner
Old 26-07-2006, 9:41 AM
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Hello everyone, thanks so much for your advice and comments - I have now e-mailed arla.co.uk and Brighton Council.

When my husband called the landlady on Friday 14th to speed things up, she said that the radiator will have to be completely replaced @ £300 so he said he'd try and find a suppler for a spare grille, which is all that is needed, as long as she gave us the heater model number. We have not yet had this.

I called the agent twice again yesterday and only got a call back at 3pm - the girl says last she heard we were researching the grille (but we haven't been given the model number - more delaying tactics). She 'keeps trying to contact the landlady but to be honest if the landlady won't take the phone we're stuck'. They will send out a template letter this Friday saying 'we have not been able to get in touch with you etc' if she doesn't answer their calls. However, the girl admitted that if the landlady returned her call, even if it was with another empty 'the papers are in the post' (she's been saying this for 2 weeks) then that counts as 'communication' and we're back to square one.

I have asked my husband to text her the number of the Dimplex agent we have found as we haven't been given the model of the heater. Then she can sort it out.

When should I write the letter saying she has 7 days to provide us with a breakdown of supposed costs? I presume the agent is under obligation to provide us with her address?

Thanks guys - this would be so much harder without all your support.

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# 12
EagerLearner
Old 26-07-2006, 10:31 AM
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Hi all,

Here is a copy of what I have now e-mailed the agent:

"Dear xxxxx,

As per our conversation yesterday, Damon had offered to help obtain a heater grille quote for the landlord but will be sending the landlord a text today with the telephone number for a heating agent, as Damon has not received the heater model number from the landlord as she had promised. This means the landlord will be able to call them directly today with the heater model number to get a quote, with no further delays to us receiving a full breakdown of any proposed deductions to our deposit.

We would like to emphasise that despite the heater grille having a stain, this mark does not affect the full working order of the heater, therefore any deduction for replacement of the grille should be considered under the terms of wear and tear.

Two weeks ago we were promised a breakdown of all proposed deductions from the deposit for our review, which we have still not received. We have also not received a copy of the check-out inventory from early June 2006 from Parks Residential. For this reason and due to the delay, we are now logging all communications in writing for our protection.

Please provide the landlords’ address via e-mail today so we may write directly to her and detail our concerns over this delay – we were due our deposit back at the latest on 5th July - this is now nearly a month overdue with no justifiable reason. Since our vacating the property on 5th June, the landlord has had nearly 8 weeks to return our deposit and/or present her breakdown of deductions.

I look forward to receiving your e-mail with the landlords postal address today.

Thank you for your swift assistance."


Clutton - sadly we did not take photos of the flat when we left, what a lesson that is. We had never let via an agency before, always private, and really thought that doing it via an agent would be safer - hardly! Lesson learnt tho re photos.

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Last edited by EagerLearner; 01-08-2006 at 9:19 AM.
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# 13
hjb123
Old 26-07-2006, 10:37 AM
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Hi,

Try the following site - it details the procedures for your situation
http://england.shelter.org.uk/advice/advice-3007.cfm
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# 14
EagerLearner
Old 26-07-2006, 11:15 AM
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HJB123 - thanks so much for that link - I have taken a look and it is very reassuring. We requested the landlords address from the agency today so once we get that we will write to them directly requesting a reason for the delay and also full breakdown of costs. We will give 7 days for a response.

As there has already been such a delay, should we say '7 days for a response and should we not hear from you in writing we will be forced to take the matter further' or should we allow the 7 days to elapse and then send another letter saying we are being forced to take her to court?

Thanks again

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# 15
hjb123
Old 26-07-2006, 11:22 AM
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I think that I would say 7 days for a response then take it further
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# 16
Voyager2002
Old 26-07-2006, 11:43 AM
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Here is the text of a letter that I sent to my landlord's letting agent in very similar circumstances (with a copy to the landlord himself). At the point I sent it I had been waiting for my deposit for more than five months (and this letter refers to a letter that I had sent them five weeks previously. I received most of the money within a couple of days of sending it.

Dear XXX XXX,


Notice of Court Action: Deposit for [address],

I have not yet received a substantive reply to my letter of 23 October, in which I explained that the reasons advanced for witholding my deposit were specious and based on false statements. Nor have I had any response to my letter of 26 August, in which I pointed out that I had had to pay Council Tax for XXX, although the tenancy agreement for this property clearly stated that Council Tax was included.

I am therefore commencing legal proceedings to recover the sums that are due to me. If you are happy for this matter to be settled in court, you need do nothing now: you will receive a summons in due course stating the date and time of the hearing. Otherwise, please ensure that your payment of five-hundred and fifty-two pounds, seventy-four pence (£552.74) reaches me within SEVEN DAYS of the above date.

Yours faithfully,
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# 17
EagerLearner
Old 26-07-2006, 1:09 PM
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Thanks Voyager2002 - sounds like that format would work for us too - we just need to get the address from the letting agent now - it will all depend on how long they take to get it to us (seems like they can take 28 days if they want but I think they want the case closed as she is now letting privately and the agent are making no money from her).

My OH has just e-mailed me to say he just sent the landlady a text with the telephone number for heating agent, which she led us to believe was the last outstanding cost as she had all other costs in place. She should, if there's a decent bone in her body, get that price today or tomorrow then post everything to the agent.

However, she's been saying to the agent that the costs are 'in the post' for ages now so who knows how long this will take and what we can trust.

I work full time so can't drop onto CAB offices and in the snatches of time I sneak off to make a call can never get through on the phonelines during the rare hours they give telephone advice. Hrrrumf.

Anyway, we're hanging in there - thanks for all the support here - it's keeping us sane! Such a shame as it tars all landlords with this brush, I'm sure there are good ones out there ;o)

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# 18
EagerLearner
Old 27-07-2006, 4:17 PM
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Latest update: Landlady has received tel number for heating agent re radiator cover and texted OH back - claims she will look into it - also stating 'hope you had a nice holiday' - can you believe the cheeeeeeeeek of it?

Letting agent has still not sent us her postal address.
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# 19
hjb123
Old 27-07-2006, 5:08 PM
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If you know her name and the rough area in which she lives can you maybe find it on the internet on one of the directory enquiries sites?
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# 20
musey
Old 28-07-2006, 9:15 PM
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http://www.landregisteronline.gov.uk/

If you think it's worth investing 2 in finding the landlady's details then vist the above, search for the property and you should get her address that way. Out of interest do you have a copy of your tenancy agreement? If so Where does it say you should serve papers (if required) on the landlord/lady?
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