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  • FIRST POST
    • cinereus
    • By cinereus 19th Apr 17, 10:55 AM
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    cinereus
    Landlord withholding deposit - court costs?
    • #1
    • 19th Apr 17, 10:55 AM
    Landlord withholding deposit - court costs? 19th Apr 17 at 10:55 AM
    My landlord charged me £150 for "cleaning costs" even though I cleaned the property to a professional level after leaving. I was there for less than 6 months and the tenancy agreement I signed only allows for £80. Even so, I believe I have a case Indeed, the government’s own guidance from the Office of Fair Trading states in Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements September 2005:

    4.4 Cleaning charges – a requirement to pay for cleaning at the end of the tenancy may be unfair if it is vague or unclear about the basis on which money will be demanded, or the extent of the cleaning involved. Such a term is more likely to be fair if the amount of the charge is expressly limited to reasonable compensation for a failure to take care of the property (see also our views below on excessive charges).

    4.8 Excessive cleaning charges – as a matter of normal practice in short lets, reflecting the common law, tenants are expected to return the property in as good and clean a condition as it was when they received it, with fair wear and tear excepted. We therefore commonly object to terms that could be used to make the tenant pay for the property to be cleaned to a higher standard than it was in at the start of the tenancy, or that require cleaning regardless of whether or not this is necessary for the tenant to comply with their normal obligations with regard to the state of the property.
    My argument is that demanding a “professional cleaning” when the property is already clean or has been returned in a superior condition is unfair in law.

    I am unable to go through mydeposits because they failed to issue the Prescribed Information at the start of the contract (I've asked for deposit guarantee certificate numerous times)and did not give the required information about how disputes should be made as well as the timescale. They then ignored my dispute for over three months so I can no longer go to mydeposits for adjudication. In fact, they kept the whole deposit the whole time for months after the tenancy!

    After a lot of begging, I finally got this back but I want to go to small claims to get the £150 back. Do you think I have a strong case? And do they have any right to claim legal costs from me?
Page 1
    • saajan_12
    • By saajan_12 19th Apr 17, 11:38 AM
    • 387 Posts
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    saajan_12
    • #2
    • 19th Apr 17, 11:38 AM
    • #2
    • 19th Apr 17, 11:38 AM
    I would write a final Letter Before Action to the LL requesting the £150 to be paid within 7 days and very briefly outlining that the property was left in the same or better level of cleanliness (pen, paper, keep a copy). This will show that you have made every effort to resolve it outside the courts. After 7 days if you receive no response, file a Money Claim. If you win, the LL should also be liable for YOUR court costs (e.g. filing fee, not solicitors or anything). Their failure to respond to your LBA will show these court fees were unavoidable for you to recover your remaining deposit.
    • cinereus
    • By cinereus 19th Apr 17, 4:36 PM
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    cinereus
    • #3
    • 19th Apr 17, 4:36 PM
    • #3
    • 19th Apr 17, 4:36 PM
    Do you think my case is pretty watertight? They've just responded to my LBA by saying they aim to take it to court!

    I obviously think I must win but my understanding is they could claim up to £200 in costs if I lose?
    • Arleen
    • By Arleen 19th Apr 17, 4:43 PM
    • 826 Posts
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    Arleen
    • #4
    • 19th Apr 17, 4:43 PM
    • #4
    • 19th Apr 17, 4:43 PM
    Do you think my case is pretty watertight? They've just responded to my LBA by saying they aim to take it to court!

    I obviously think I must win but my understanding is they could claim up to £200 in costs if I lose?
    Originally posted by cinereus
    We don't know as we didn't read your contract or see before and after photos of the property. And you are correct that if you lose then, LL can claim even more money from you, for example for travel expenses.

    So make sure that the juice is worth the squeeze, letter before action is a good time for both sides to contemplate that.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 19th Apr 17, 5:58 PM
    • 39,218 Posts
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    G_M
    • #5
    • 19th Apr 17, 5:58 PM
    • #5
    • 19th Apr 17, 5:58 PM

    I am unable to go through mydeposits because they failed to issue the Prescribed Information at the start of the contract
    so claim the penalty.

    (I've asked for deposit guarantee certificate numerous times)and did not give the required information about how disputes should be made as well as the timescale. They then ignored my dispute for over three monthsso I can no longer go to mydeposits for adjudication.
    if the depot was registered, why did you not raise a dispute?
    if not registered, why not claim the penalty?

    In fact, they kept the whole deposit the whole time for months after the tenancy!
    Who? Mydeposits or the landlord?

    After a lot of begging, I finally got this back but I want to go to small claims to get the £150 back. Do you think I have a strong case? And do they have any right to claim legal costs from me?
    Originally posted by cinereus
    So you got the deposit back yes?

    So why are you £150 out of pocket....?

    Read:

    * Deposits: payment, protection and return
    • cinereus
    • By cinereus 4th May 17, 5:58 PM
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    • 911 Thanks
    cinereus
    • #6
    • 4th May 17, 5:58 PM
    • #6
    • 4th May 17, 5:58 PM
    So you got the deposit back yes?

    So why are you £150 out of pocket....?
    Originally posted by G_M
    This is why.

    My landlord charged me £150 for "cleaning costs" even though I cleaned the property to a professional level after leaving.

    I was there for less than 6 months and the tenancy agreement I signed only allows for £80.

    Even so, I believe I have a case Indeed, the government’s own guidance from the Office of Fair Trading states in Guidance on unfair terms in tenancy agreements September 2005:

    4.4 Cleaning charges – a requirement to pay for cleaning at the end of the tenancy may be unfair if it is vague or unclear about the basis on which money will be demanded, or the extent of the cleaning involved. Such a term is more likely to be fair if the amount of the charge is expressly limited to reasonable compensation for a failure to take care of the property (see also our views below on excessive charges).

    4.8 Excessive cleaning charges – as a matter of normal practice in short lets, reflecting the common law, tenants are expected to return the property in as good and clean a condition as it was when they received it, with fair wear and tear excepted. We therefore commonly object to terms that could be used to make the tenant pay for the property to be cleaned to a higher standard than it was in at the start of the tenancy, or that require cleaning regardless of whether or not this is necessary for the tenant to comply with their normal obligations with regard to the state of the property.
    My argument is that demanding a “professional cleaning” when the property is already clean or has been returned in a superior condition is unfair in law.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 4th May 17, 6:23 PM
    • 13,953 Posts
    • 12,351 Thanks
    AdrianC
    • #7
    • 4th May 17, 6:23 PM
    • #7
    • 4th May 17, 6:23 PM
    I think you miss G_M's point.

    When you left, you claimed the deposit back from the protection service, right...?

    The landlord could not legally have claimed any deductions, because they failed in their legal duty by not providing you the prescribed information as required. The deposit scheme would have just paid up.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 4th May 17, 7:27 PM
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    G_M
    • #8
    • 4th May 17, 7:27 PM
    • #8
    • 4th May 17, 7:27 PM
    There are various things I still don't understand
    My landlord charged me £150 for "cleaning costs"
    ....
    they kept the whole deposit the whole time for months after the tenancy! After a lot of begging, I finally got this back
    Originally posted by cinereus
    So you say you got the deposit back.

    In that case, ignore the LL's claim for the £150 and move on with your life.

    Alternatively, claim 3 times the deposit for failure o issue the PI, and for late protection of the deposit. Yes, you can add the court fees to your claim.

    I was there for less than 6 months and the tenancy agreement I signed only allows for £80.
    What were the terms of the tenancy agreement you signed? Was it a 6 month contract? If so, you may owe rent.

    I have no idea what the £80 relates to: is this a fee for ending the tenancy early? A cleaning charge? Rent?
    Last edited by G_M; 04-05-2017 at 9:23 PM.
    • cinereus
    • By cinereus 4th May 17, 8:23 PM
    • 2,621 Posts
    • 911 Thanks
    cinereus
    • #9
    • 4th May 17, 8:23 PM
    • #9
    • 4th May 17, 8:23 PM
    I think you miss G_M's point.

    When you left, you claimed the deposit back from the protection service, right...?

    The landlord could not legally have claimed any deductions, because they failed in their legal duty by not providing you the prescribed information as required. The deposit scheme would have just paid up.
    Originally posted by AdrianC
    No, I claimed it back from the landlord. They refused to pay. I asked to appeal. They ignored me until I was no longer protected by the deposit scheme.

    There are various things I still don't understand

    So you say you got the deposit back.

    In that case, ignore the LL's claim for the £150 and move on with your life.
    Originally posted by G_M
    As I said, they have the £150. Which is why I need to take action to get it back.

    I got the deposit back minus £190 which they refuse to release.

    What were the terms of the tenancy agreement you signed? Was it a 6 month contract? If so, you may owe rent.

    I have no idea what the £80 relates to: is this a fee for ending the tenancy early? A cleaning charge? Rent?
    It was 4 months later extended. The £80 is their contractual cleaning fee for rental terms <6 months. I'm arguing even £80 is unlawful. They in fact took £150.

    EDIT: Have just seen the red text within the quotation:

    if the depot was registered, why did you not raise a dispute?
    if not registered, why not claim the penalty?
    I raised a dispute with landlord. I was never informed it would stop being protected after 3 months! As above, they stalled until it was too late.

    Who? Mydeposits or the landlord?
    No idea. I think mydeposits return it after 3 months for some reason. I was never informed about the protection scheme and I have no idea what the point of a protection scheme that stops protecting without informing or consulting you is...
    Last edited by cinereus; 04-05-2017 at 8:26 PM.
    • AdrianC
    • By AdrianC 4th May 17, 8:24 PM
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    AdrianC
    No, I claimed it back from the landlord.
    Originally posted by cinereus
    Ah. There's your problem.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 4th May 17, 9:27 PM
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    G_M
    The deposit scheme is there to help and protect tenants.

    If you chose not to use it, and spent 3 months getting nowhere with the landlord, that is not a fault with the system, but they way it was used. Or rather, not used.

    You still have a perfectly straight-forward solution, all laid out in the link provided..
    • cinereus
    • By cinereus 4th May 17, 10:48 PM
    • 2,621 Posts
    • 911 Thanks
    cinereus
    Ah. There's your problem.
    Originally posted by AdrianC
    Yes Unfortunately at no point did I realise that wasn't the correct course of action.

    The deposit scheme is there to help and protect tenants.

    If you chose not to use it, and spent 3 months getting nowhere with the landlord, that is not a fault with the system, but they way it was used. Or rather, not used.
    Originally posted by G_M
    I chose to use it - I was told and understood my deposit was protected.

    I took it up with the landlord and got nowhere which wasn't help by the fact I had to be out of the country. Given the whole time I believed my deposit was protected, I didn't see any issue with trying to resolve it amicably.

    Now I've had time to look into the PI and HA2004, I can see exactly where things went wrong.

    You still have a perfectly straight-forward solution, all laid out in the link provided..
    Originally posted by G_M
    I've read your link and can't see anything beyond what I've already done - standard LBA followed by SCC filing through MCO. What am I missing?
    • G_M
    • By G_M 4th May 17, 11:12 PM
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    G_M
    I've read your link and can't see anything beyond what I've already done - standard LBA followed by SCC filing through MCO. What am I missing?
    Originally posted by cinereus
    Nothing, assuming you wish to only claim the £150 + standard court costs & expenses.
    • cinereus
    • By cinereus 5th May 17, 4:56 PM
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    cinereus
    Nothing, assuming you wish to only claim the £150 + standard court costs & expenses.
    Originally posted by G_M
    I thought courts have stopped paying the multiples?
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 5th May 17, 5:00 PM
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    Guest101
    I thought courts have stopped paying the multiples?
    Originally posted by cinereus
    What does this even mean?
    • cinereus
    • By cinereus 5th May 17, 5:37 PM
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    cinereus
    What does this even mean?
    Originally posted by Guest101
    Law allows for penalties of between 1 & 3 times the deposit.
    • jbainbridge
    • By jbainbridge 5th May 17, 8:07 PM
    • 1,662 Posts
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    jbainbridge
    Law allows for penalties of between 1 & 3 times the deposit.
    Originally posted by cinereus
    When the landlord has not protected the deposit. It doesn't apply in your case.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 5th May 17, 8:50 PM
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    G_M
    Law allows for penalties of between 1 & 3 times the deposit.
    Originally posted by cinereus
    I specifically excluded that from my post. I said:

    (you are missing) Nothing, assuming you wish to only claim the £150 + standard court costs & expenses.
    If you wish to claim the penalty, the process is different.

    I refer you again to the link provided.
    • cinereus
    • By cinereus 5th May 17, 9:21 PM
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    • 911 Thanks
    cinereus
    When the landlord has not protected the deposit. It doesn't apply in your case.
    Originally posted by jbainbridge
    According to the link it does: "What if a landlord fails to register the deposit &/or provide the PI?"

    I specifically excluded that from my post.
    Originally posted by G_M
    You alluded to a possibility I could have claimed more.

    If you wish to claim the penalty, the process is different.

    I refer you again to the link provided.
    Link says "via the courts" and then links to a form identical to the one you use with MCO?

    But as I mentioned, I thought recent case law means that the penalty is never awarded any more anyway?
    • G_M
    • By G_M 5th May 17, 9:30 PM
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    G_M
    News to me. But I'm always open to learn.

    Can you link the case law and I'll update the link.
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