Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum
Sign in to follow this  
norseraider

Another Deposit Victory!

Recommended Posts

Documenting my recent experience of moving out of a flat in Greenwich.

I'd been in the flat for 15 months. Decor was fairly worn when I moved in (18 months previous tenancy, apparently). This was a commercial landlord, who owns a big block of combined offices/residential flats. Tenancy was uneventful - they sent round handymen etc as required. Original agents were OK to deal with, but got bought about by a bigger firm just before my tenancy ended.

Anyhow, I moved out to another place locally with the missus, and hired a trusted cleaning company to do end-of-tenancy clean, with carpet shampooing, for about £280. I went to have a quick look before giving the keys back, and was pretty pleased -- it looked nicer than it had in a while :)

Check-out report was done the next day, in my absence because I was away. I was expecting a clean bill of health, so I was pretty horrified when the report came back demanding nearly £900!

What terrible crimes had I committed?

Well, the report was incredibly nit-picky -- they had used a different inventory company to the original, and clearly these people had finding fault to an art! They 'found' marks and dust in almost every room, and declared that the house was "only domestically clean".. and wanted £450 for (another) professional clean.

They wanted £120 for "4 inch grey carpet stains" in three rooms (3 x £40 'compensation') ... but only had a picture of one 50p sized stain next to someone's foot (a food stain that I could not shift!).

They wanted £100 for redecorating, claiming I'd made "pin-holes & blu-tack marks".

But my personal favourite, they wanted £120 for a cracked freezer drawer. Really.

Now, to be fair to the agents, the cleaners had missed a few things, like some cobwebs (I assume they were really short!), but nothing that would require a full re-clean. I complained to my cleaning company, and they offered a 3-hour amendment clean (worth £35), to specifically address the matters spotted, which I offered to pass on to the landlord as a deduction.

I also offered £40 towards to the spot on the carpet, even though I still think a food stain in the dining area is probably fair wear and tear. I just felt guilty about spilling that beef borguignon..

I refused to pay for FULL pro-cleaning on the grounds that:

- it was done already

- I had an invoice to show this

I had secured them a refund for the things they'd spotted

I resolutely refused to pay for the redecoration the following grounds:

- the few marks and holes had been there when I moved in (even though the check-in report didn't spot them all)

- the check-out photos were not significantly different to the check-in photos

- the whole place needed redecorating (after 3 years, the decor was flaking from age, etc)

I refused to pay for carpet 'stains' in 2 rooms on the grounds that:

- regardless of what the check-out report said, I did not believe the stains were significant (or even present)

- the checkout report text had clearly exaggerated the size of the one stain which they had photo'd

- the checkout people hadn't bothered to take close-up pics of 'all the other stains'

- generally the photos showed the carpets looked the same before/after

I refused to pay for the freezer drawer because:

- £120 is ridiculous for a freezer drawer

- the check-in photos showed it was cracked already (hurrah!)

After a huge amount of going back-and-forth, making my case, and sorting out that I was willing to offer only £75, we reached a deadlock. At this point I said I was going to go to TDS, with the reasons stated above, and the agents went off for one 'final discussion' with the landlord, who then accepted my £75 offer!

So, reduction from £890 to £75.. not too bad I thought :)

The learnings from me:

a] The mindset and text of check-out reports cannot be trusted ... these people are paid to find fault. Don't be discouraged from calling them out when they are wrong -- the burden of proof is with them!

b] Photos are much better - find places where the photos show exaggeration to weaken their case.

c] Landlords and Agents really don't want to engage in disputes -- they take time, and are hard for them to win.

d] Offer a "proportionate refund" can head off a claim for the full amount - as I did with the cleaning.

e] With hindsight, I'd wish I'd done my own "check-in" and found & reported things like pin-holes, blu-tack from the previous tenants, rather than just assuming that the process 'would be fair'.

One thing that never got tested -- the agents were saying "if you agree to X, then the landlord will drop Y". I strongly suspect that TDS adjudicators would take a dim view of bargaining liabilities like this ... I think you could bring the argument that this showed a desire to secure a certain amount of money, rather than seek reparations for actual accountable damage. In this case though, we'll never know!

Happy to answer questions.
Keep fighting, and win!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't take it personally. Trying it on is just a business decision.

Imagine just 1 in 10 people not fighting it. They net £800+.

I bet plenty of our eastern european cousins don't fight it or are not bothered if their deposits are protected etc. They probably offset it against not paying the gas/electric/water bills. The energy company wanted me to pay the £3000 the polish couple left outstanding at the last flat I rented in slumdon. lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't take it personally. Trying it on is just a business decision.

Imagine just 1 in 10 people not fighting it. They net £800+.

I bet plenty of our eastern european cousins don't fight it or are not bothered if their deposits are protected etc. They probably offset it against not paying the gas/electric/water bills. The energy company wanted me to pay the £3000 the polish couple left outstanding at the last flat I rented in slumdon. lol

Not just our EU cousins, an agent in our area regularly keeps the deposits of American service personnel. He even takes stuff they leave behind and sells it to boost his bottom line.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My last landlord forgot to protect our deposit 'whoops' which made his claim for new carpets and replacements look rather foolish.

"I hadn't received the deposit notice" I say

"oh dont worry about that I have the money here, its fine" he claims.

I reply "Its clear we wont be able to agree on deductions, you just hold onto the deposit and keep a list and I'll have my solicitor get in touch since we can't go through the deposit scheme".

We dismissed his claims and sent a larger request back at him, eventually walked away with a nice little profit after that, well worth it and didn't even have to hire a cleaning company either :]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't take it personally. Trying it on is just a business decision.

It should be taken personally. It is not the sort of decision which should be regarded as a proper business decision. We are into Arthur Daley territory: "Hitting old ladies over the head and taking their handbags is robbery, everything else is business."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't take it personally, but I do despair of a world where such bare-faced cheek is considered even remotely "fair game"!

The key learning for me was that you can challenge check-out reports - you can call them out as over-pedantic, nit-picking, or exaggerating.

So, don't just bow down to something unreasonable just because it's in the check-out report... the agent will say "it's impartial, independent" etc, as a negotiating tactic, but these companies are paid to find fault, so don't be afraid to say they have made a mistake, or have poor judgement!

For me the kicker was the text saying "4 inch stain", and then a photo of said stain next to someone's foot... showing it to be about 50p-sized (either that or the person had absolutely massive feet!). From then on, I could hinge my entire argument around the fact that the check-out company was "demonstrably prone to exaggeration".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't take it personally. Trying it on is just a business decision.

Imagine just 1 in 10 people not fighting it. They net £800+.

I bet plenty of our eastern european cousins don't fight it or are not bothered if their deposits are protected etc. They probably offset it against not paying the gas/electric/water bills. The energy company wanted me to pay the £3000 the polish couple left outstanding at the last flat I rented in slumdon. lol

I just think it is a sorry state of affairs that renters have to jump through so many hoops just to move! Surely most of what was pointed out in the OP was general wear and tear. How is someone suppose to live somewhere if every little thing is supposed to be kept in perfect condition and you can't even put up a poster without worrying about the blue-tac mark?

It's no wonder that almost everyone wants to buy their own home no matter the cost!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After a huge amount of going back-and-forth, making my case, and sorting out that I was willing to offer only £75, we reached a deadlock. At this point I said I was going to go to TDS, with the reasons stated above, and the agents went off for one 'final discussion' with the landlord, who then accepted my £75 offer!

Seems like the other take away message here is that when the TDS dispute resolution procedure was mentioned then the Landlord caved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just think it is a sorry state of affairs that renters have to jump through so many hoops just to move! Surely most of what was pointed out in the OP was general wear and tear. How is someone suppose to live somewhere if every little thing is supposed to be kept in perfect condition and you can't even put up a poster without worrying about the blue-tac mark?

It's no wonder that almost everyone wants to buy their own home no matter the cost!

@RTID - you got it.. the whole renting experience in Britain is a horror. It's expensive, stressful and demeaning. It is the only industry I can think of where the paying customer is treated with so much contempt. The whole thing is an unreformed 19th century nightmare - and not in a good way :)

I genuinely do believe that this part of what is behind house price inflation/resilience - I am fairly sure that many people have paid literally whatever they could to escape living under someone else's scrutiny, and the yearly cycle of a*se-achery that goes with it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • The Prime Minister stated that there were three Brexit options available to the UK:   224 members have voted

    1. 1. Which of the Prime Minister's options would you choose?


      • Leave with the negotiated deal
      • Remain
      • Leave with no deal

    Please sign in or register to vote in this poll. View topic


×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.