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  • FIRST POST
    • sazdes
    • By sazdes 5th Feb 18, 11:41 AM
    • 96Posts
    • 77Thanks
    sazdes
    lodger deposit dispute
    • #1
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:41 AM
    lodger deposit dispute 5th Feb 18 at 11:41 AM
    Morning, just wondered if I could have some advice on whether I should proceed with trying to obtain part of my deposit back from a small claims court or not

    I gave notice on the 5th dec and moved out on 2nd Jan

    I had a standard lodger agreement (and hence non-protected deposit). It was £150 and initially I was returned £66. Their arguments consisted of blaming me for damage to communal areas (eg a wall scuff and saying the oven was dirty, despite it being shared with all 3 of us, they wanted to deduct £30 in oven cleaning fees) and that the bed frame on my bed had come unscrewed (its clearly a poor previous repair job as some of the holes are filled with paper/what looks like putty).

    They also wanted to charge £15 for bills, despite the contract being "bills included", on the basis that I had a small fridge in their kitchen for about 10 days to store my food as they only offered me one tiny shelf in their fridge, this was then turned off once adequate space was provided, and also because I had a small electric heater on for approx 10 hrs during my 4 month stay, because they refused to heat the house adequately during winter, and I stopped using this when requested.

    They are arguing the clause in the agreement that "utilities are included in the monthly rent unless outstanding charges are occurred due to the lodger" - however, obviously the bills are going to go up in winter, and I'm not sure how it can be attributed to just me, and the figure seems plucked out of the air (particularly since they increase it in their later email)

    There is dispute over the definition of 1 month notice, as I gave 28 days which has always been the standard notice period for the previous 5 rentals I've been in. They are arguing it should be from calendar month to calendar month eg 5th to 5th. I'm not sure who is correct here, but I agreed to pay for the additional 2 days I stayed at the start of the month (which they have confirmed in the 1st email that they were happy with this).

    After writing to dispute all of the charges for damages/cleaning, as these are communal and not attributable to me, nor did they bother with a inventory on move in so have no evidence of pre-existing state. They have since changed their minds and say the deposit deductions are no longer for the damages and are instead for 5 days of unpaid rent and now £20 for extra bills

    I get the impression they want to keep the money regardless and are just changing the story to fit the amount they want to deduct.

    However, I am aware that I am disputing £49 and obviously by going to a small claims court am risking being further out of pocket so wanted another opinion on whether this is likely to be accepted, in particular

    - is there a legal definition of a month - as from searching on google it doesn't seem to be the case?
    - if I have a written email confirmation from them stating only 2 days rent are due, can they later change their mind and increase it to 5 days?
    - can they deduct extra for bills without any strong evidence for the costs being attributable to myself (there is no clause in my contract which states I must seek permission to use an electrical appliance, which is what they are implying)?

    any help would be greatly appreciated

    many thanks
Page 1
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 5th Feb 18, 11:44 AM
    • 2,422 Posts
    • 2,323 Thanks
    Comms69
    • #2
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:44 AM
    • #2
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:44 AM
    Morning, just wondered if I could have some advice on whether I should proceed with trying to obtain part of my deposit back from a small claims court or not

    I gave notice on the 5th dec and moved out on 2nd Jan

    I had a standard lodger agreement (and hence non-protected deposit). It was £150 and initially I was returned £66. Their arguments consisted of blaming me for damage to communal areas (eg a wall scuff and saying the oven was dirty, despite it being shared with all 3 of us, they wanted to deduct £30 in oven cleaning fees) and that the bed frame on my bed had come unscrewed (its clearly a poor previous repair job as some of the holes are filled with paper/what looks like putty).

    They also wanted to charge £15 for bills, despite the contract being "bills included", on the basis that I had a small fridge in their kitchen for about 10 days to store my food as they only offered me one tiny shelf in their fridge, this was then turned off once adequate space was provided, and also because I had a small electric heater on for approx 10 hrs during my 4 month stay, because they refused to heat the house adequately during winter, and I stopped using this when requested.

    They are arguing the clause in the agreement that "utilities are included in the monthly rent unless outstanding charges are occurred due to the lodger" - however, obviously the bills are going to go up in winter, and I'm not sure how it can be attributed to just me, and the figure seems plucked out of the air (particularly since they increase it in their later email)

    There is dispute over the definition of 1 month notice, as I gave 28 days which has always been the standard notice period for the previous 5 rentals I've been in. They are arguing it should be from calendar month to calendar month eg 5th to 5th. I'm not sure who is correct here, but I agreed to pay for the additional 2 days I stayed at the start of the month (which they have confirmed in the 1st email that they were happy with this).

    After writing to dispute all of the charges for damages/cleaning, as these are communal and not attributable to me, nor did they bother with a inventory on move in so have no evidence of pre-existing state. They have since changed their minds and say the deposit deductions are no longer for the damages and are instead for 5 days of unpaid rent and now £20 for extra bills

    I get the impression they want to keep the money regardless and are just changing the story to fit the amount they want to deduct.

    However, I am aware that I am disputing £49 and obviously by going to a small claims court am risking being further out of pocket so wanted another opinion on whether this is likely to be accepted, in particular

    - is there a legal definition of a month - as from searching on google it doesn't seem to be the case?
    - if I have a written email confirmation from them stating only 2 days rent are due, can they later change their mind and increase it to 5 days?
    - can they deduct extra for bills without any strong evidence for the costs being attributable to myself (there is no clause in my contract which states I must seek permission to use an electrical appliance, which is what they are implying)?

    any help would be greatly appreciated

    many thanks
    Originally posted by sazdes
    A month is typically X-Y e.g. 30-29, 1-31, 5-4 etc.


    They have 6 years to make a claim, so do you. So yes that claim can change as evidence becomes available.


    Ultimately it's £49. It's worth a letter before action, but I wouldn't go much further.
    • Rambosmum
    • By Rambosmum 5th Feb 18, 11:50 AM
    • 1,597 Posts
    • 2,073 Thanks
    Rambosmum
    • #3
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:50 AM
    • #3
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:50 AM
    What was the exact wording on your contract? If it was "one caledar month" or "one month" I'd take it as exactly that - 1 MONTH e.g. 5th to the 4th. 28 days is not a month (unless it's february), it's 4 weeks or 28 days.

    An electric heater on for 10 hours a day is what I would consider excessive use of the 'bills included' and quite frankley was taking the p!ss. The house may not be heated to your liking but that's the risk you take with any sort of house share, particularly as a lodger. It would be relatively easy to calculate the cost of the heater specifically - a quick google estimates an electric fan heater to cost 28p per hour so for 10 hours that would be £2.80 per day, if you did use it every day for 4 months, that's £336!
    • Doozergirl
    • By Doozergirl 5th Feb 18, 11:53 AM
    • 24,472 Posts
    • 67,347 Thanks
    Doozergirl
    • #4
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:53 AM
    • #4
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:53 AM
    What was the exact wording on your contract? If it was "one caledar month" or "one month" I'd take it as exactly that - 1 MONTH e.g. 5th to the 4th. 28 days is not a month (unless it's february), it's 4 weeks or 28 days.

    An electric heater on for 10 hours a day is what I would consider excessive use of the 'bills included' and quite frankley was taking the p!ss. The house may not be heated to your liking but that's the risk you take with any sort of house share, particularly as a lodger. It would be relatively easy to calculate the cost of the heater specifically - a quick google estimates an electric fan heater to cost 28p per hour so for 10 hours that would be £2.80 per day, if you did use it every day for 4 months, that's £336!
    Originally posted by Rambosmum
    Not sure where you got 10 hours a day from. They said 10 hours total.
    Everything that is supposed to be in heaven is already here on earth.
    • pinkshoes
    • By pinkshoes 5th Feb 18, 11:56 AM
    • 15,554 Posts
    • 21,293 Thanks
    pinkshoes
    • #5
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:56 AM
    • #5
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:56 AM
    What was the exact wording on your contract? If it was "one caledar month" or "one month" I'd take it as exactly that - 1 MONTH e.g. 5th to the 4th. 28 days is not a month (unless it's february), it's 4 weeks or 28 days.

    An electric heater on for 10 hours a day is what I would consider excessive use of the 'bills included' and quite frankley was taking the p!ss. The house may not be heated to your liking but that's the risk you take with any sort of house share, particularly as a lodger. It would be relatively easy to calculate the cost of the heater specifically - a quick google estimates an electric fan heater to cost 28p per hour so for 10 hours that would be £2.80 per day, if you did use it every day for 4 months, that's £336!
    Originally posted by Rambosmum
    Heater? The OP said a small fridge...
    Should've = Should HAVE (not 'of')
    Would've = Would HAVE (not 'of')

    No, I am not perfect, but yes I do judge people on their use of basic English language. If you didn't know the above, then learn it! (If English is your second language, then you are forgiven!)
    • LandyAndy
    • By LandyAndy 5th Feb 18, 11:59 AM
    • 24,140 Posts
    • 51,024 Thanks
    LandyAndy
    • #6
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:59 AM
    • #6
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:59 AM
    They also wanted to charge £15 for bills, despite the contract being "bills included", on the basis that I had a small fridge in their kitchen for about 10 days to store my food as they only offered me one tiny shelf in their fridge, this was then turned off once adequate space was provided, and also because I had a small electric heater on for approx 10 hrs during my 4 month stay, because they refused to heat the house adequately during winter, and I stopped using this when requested.
    Originally posted by sazdes
    Heater? The OP said a small fridge...
    Originally posted by pinkshoes

    that heater.
    • sazdes
    • By sazdes 5th Feb 18, 12:03 PM
    • 96 Posts
    • 77 Thanks
    sazdes
    • #7
    • 5th Feb 18, 12:03 PM
    • #7
    • 5th Feb 18, 12:03 PM
    heater was 10 hours total in 4 months (not 10 hours a day, I work 11hrs a day!), the house heating was off until they asked me not to use the heater then at 20 degrees for 1hr in the morning and 2-3 in the evening. So we're talking its cost them £3 for the heater going on the above maths. Not sure on the fridge (its a 1ft beer fridge) but would never have been used at all if had been given adequate fridge space
    • saajan_12
    • By saajan_12 5th Feb 18, 12:25 PM
    • 1,122 Posts
    • 755 Thanks
    saajan_12
    • #8
    • 5th Feb 18, 12:25 PM
    • #8
    • 5th Feb 18, 12:25 PM
    * Rent - please quote the exact terms surrounding notice (often it has to be in line with licence period end dates and/or final month rent can't be pro-rata'd). A "month" could mean a licence period or a calendar month (whichever is more favourable for you if its ambiguous in the agreement). However it would NOT be reasonable to assume a month = 28days. So minimally you owe rent for 3 days 2nd - 5th Jan.

    * wall scuff - who caused this?

    * oven cleaning - was there a particular mess you caused? Was there any agreement to split cleaning? If you failed to do your share, they could charge you 1/3 the cost, if not then I agree it would be hard to justify charging you for it.

    * bed frame - did it become unscrewed during your stay?

    * bills - please quote exact terms where these are included. There can be fair usage clauses, where you'd have to pay if you exceed. Reading between the lines, sounds like there was a debate on what constitutes sufficient heating / fridge space, where your LL agreed to provide a certain amount. You unilatterally getting your way at the expense of the bill payer can be seen as breaching that agreement, which you should pay for. Such appliances usually have an approx running cost published, so should be easy to estimate the additional cost you incurred.

    Estimate the total potential deduction a court would make - sounds like very little change would be left to argue over from the £49 withheld, not worth the risk of doubling that in court fees if you lose.
    • pinkshoes
    • By pinkshoes 5th Feb 18, 12:28 PM
    • 15,554 Posts
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    pinkshoes
    • #9
    • 5th Feb 18, 12:28 PM
    • #9
    • 5th Feb 18, 12:28 PM
    A mini fridge is about 25W.

    0.025kW x 24 hours x 10 days = 6kWh of electricity used.

    Electricity is about 12p/kwh so 72p for the fridge.

    The heater was only 10 hours in total but a higher power rating. You can do the maths...
    Should've = Should HAVE (not 'of')
    Would've = Would HAVE (not 'of')

    No, I am not perfect, but yes I do judge people on their use of basic English language. If you didn't know the above, then learn it! (If English is your second language, then you are forgiven!)
    • Rambosmum
    • By Rambosmum 5th Feb 18, 12:41 PM
    • 1,597 Posts
    • 2,073 Thanks
    Rambosmum
    Not sure where you got 10 hours a day from. They said 10 hours total.
    Originally posted by Doozergirl
    Oops! Misread that bit!
    • sazdes
    • By sazdes 5th Feb 18, 12:45 PM
    • 96 Posts
    • 77 Thanks
    sazdes
    * Rent - please quote the exact terms surrounding notice (often it has to be in line with licence period end dates and/or final month rent can't be pro-rata'd). A "month" could mean a licence period or a calendar month (whichever is more favourable for you if its ambiguous in the agreement). However it would NOT be reasonable to assume a month = 28days. So minimally you owe rent for 3 days 2nd - 5th Jan.


    one month
    * wall scuff - who caused this?
    no idea, not me

    * oven cleaning - was there a particular mess you caused? Was there any agreement to split cleaning? If you failed to do your share, they could charge you 1/3 the cost, if not then I agree it would be hard to justify charging you for it.
    no, I wipe the oven whenever I use it, she openly stated the stains she is referring to were there when they moved in and won't come off, although this is verbal, no evidence of which. I agreed in principle to pay 1/3 of the costs of professional oven cleaning, then didn't hear any more so assuming it was a made up figure

    * bed frame - did it become unscrewed during your stay?
    yes, its not broken though, just loose

    * bills - please quote exact terms where these are included. There can be fair usage clauses, where you'd have to pay if you exceed. Reading between the lines, sounds like there was a debate on what constitutes sufficient heating / fridge space, where your LL agreed to provide a certain amount. You unilatterally getting your way at the expense of the bill payer can be seen as breaching that agreement, which you should pay for. Such appliances usually have an approx running cost published, so should be easy to estimate the additional cost you incurred.
    the quote from the contract is above, basically utilities are included in rent unless outstanding charges are occurred due to the lodger
    Estimate the total potential deduction a court would make - sounds like very little change would be left to argue over from the £49 withheld, not worth the risk of doubling that in court fees if you lose.
    Originally posted by saajan_12
    yes that was my current feelings, just frustrating its not through a deposit protection service so wouldn't need to pay to have it independently reviewed
    • smartpicture
    • By smartpicture 5th Feb 18, 1:15 PM
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    • 1,800 Thanks
    smartpicture
    The cost of cleaning an oven around here is £60, or £90 if it's a double oven, so £30 may only be a share of the cost?
    • sazdes
    • By sazdes 5th Feb 18, 1:36 PM
    • 96 Posts
    • 77 Thanks
    sazdes
    its a small single oven, I said I'm more than happy to pay for my share providing they gave me a receipt/photo to prove the cleaning actually took place, after that I didn't hear anything more and the charge was removed on the second email changing all the original reasons for the deductions, so I am assuming it wasn't actually cleaned
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 5th Feb 18, 1:41 PM
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    • 2,323 Thanks
    Comms69
    its a small single oven, I said I'm more than happy to pay for my share providing they gave me a receipt/photo to prove the cleaning actually took place, after that I didn't hear anything more and the charge was removed on the second email changing all the original reasons for the deductions, so I am assuming it wasn't actually cleaned
    Originally posted by sazdes
    Why do you think you have any right to such a thing? They don't need to get it cleaned.


    If you hit my car, I don't need to get a new one, I can take the pay-out and spend it on getting hammered if I choose.
    • Penitent
    • By Penitent 5th Feb 18, 1:49 PM
    • 2,057 Posts
    • 6,255 Thanks
    Penitent
    They are arguing the clause in the agreement that "utilities are included in the monthly rent unless outstanding charges are occurred due to the lodger"
    Originally posted by sazdes
    Outstanding means unpaid. Are they saying they didn't pay their electricity bill because you ran up <£5 over four months?

    They have since changed their minds and say the deposit deductions are no longer for the damages and are instead for 5 days of unpaid rent and now £20 for extra bills
    28 days + 5 days = 33 days. Which month has 33 days in it?
    • sazdes
    • By sazdes 5th Feb 18, 2:31 PM
    • 96 Posts
    • 77 Thanks
    sazdes
    Why do you think you have any right to such a thing? They don't need to get it cleaned.


    If you hit my car, I don't need to get a new one, I can take the pay-out and spend it on getting hammered if I choose.
    Originally posted by Comms69
    I was under the impression this was how it worked with tenancies, ie to avoid betterment (whenever we had tenants that had stained things that we needed professionally cleaned we would always provide before/after pictures and the receipt to prove we weren't just taking their money without justification)

    not that said stains were of my doing anyway
    Last edited by sazdes; 05-02-2018 at 2:36 PM.
    • sazdes
    • By sazdes 5th Feb 18, 2:34 PM
    • 96 Posts
    • 77 Thanks
    sazdes
    Outstanding means unpaid. Are they saying they didn't pay their electricity bill because you ran up <£5 over four months?
    I'm assuming they pay their bills but no idea as not really anything to do with me


    28 days + 5 days = 33 days. Which month has 33 days in it?
    Originally posted by Penitent
    I pay rent on the 1st of the month, so they are saying 5 days payment to cover 1st-5th, as I gave notice on the 5th, although I moved on the 2nd, and as an aside had to sleep on the floor on the 1st/2nd as the bed had came apart and they hadn't got round to fixing it

    initially we had agreed 2 days rent to cover the days I had my property still in the room, which I agreed to, it later got increased to 5 days when they realised they couldn't justify the damage claims
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 5th Feb 18, 2:41 PM
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    • 2,323 Thanks
    Comms69
    I was under the impression this was how it worked with tenancies, ie to avoid betterment (whenever we had tenants that had stained things that we needed professionally cleaned we would always provide before/after pictures and the receipt to prove we weren't just taking their money without justification)

    not that said stains were of my doing anyway
    Originally posted by sazdes


    You were incorrect.
    • saajan_12
    • By saajan_12 5th Feb 18, 2:48 PM
    • 1,122 Posts
    • 755 Thanks
    saajan_12
    I pay rent on the 1st of the month, so they are saying 5 days payment to cover 1st-5th, as I gave notice on the 5th, although I moved on the 2nd, and as an aside had to sleep on the floor on the 1st/2nd as the bed had came apart and they hadn't got round to fixing it

    initially we had agreed 2 days rent to cover the days I had my property still in the room, which I agreed to, it later got increased to 5 days when they realised they couldn't justify the damage claims
    Originally posted by sazdes
    The posts suggesting you pay the 3 days 2nd - 5th Jan were under the assumption you had already paid for your 28 days notice, not shorted the LL for time you actually occupied the room!

    If you pay rent on 1st of month, I am assuming (not always the case) that your periods run 1st - last of month. So your Dec rent payment covered until 31st Dec. You still owe minimally for 5 days 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Jan.

    The LL may have been willing to let you slide on some out of generosity or a belief you would cover other damages, but this is not binding on them. You owe the 5 days rent, no question.
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