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samivel

Agent Withholding Deposit Since 1St August

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Hello, new poster here.

My last tenancy agreement ended on 1st August, and according to clause 7.4 of the agreement, the agent has to tell me within ten working days of the end of the tenancy if they propose to make any deductions from the deposit.

I then received a letter from the agent dated 26th August stating that they would be looking to claim "for some gardening, along with the replacement toilet seat which is noted as damaged on the check out report". The toilet seat was not new when I moved in six years ago, and the damage noted on the check out report was already present. When I asked for confirmation of how much they were claiming, I was fobbed off and told they would be in touch shortly. They finally told me on 11th September that they would be holding on to £205 of the deposit, plus an agent charge of £54 if I contest the claim.

They are claiming the following:

Curtain cleaning, Lounge and Bed (contribution only) - £60

Repair to bathroom door (for a small hole about 1cm in diameter which was there before I moved in) - £30

Replacing toilet seat (which was worn and damaged before I moved in) - £50

General cleaning including limescale - £25

Agent charge - £54

This is well over the ten working days limit for them to inform me of this claim, and it's much more than they're entitled to (who would pay fifty quid for a used toilet seat?). They claim that the ten working day rule is no longer the law, but it's in my tenancy agreement so surely it's to be adhered to?

Any help/advice/comments gratefully received. Thanks in advance.

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Background

You're a little misguided with the 10 day rule.

"Your landlord must return your deposit within 10 days of you both agreeing how much you’ll get back." - https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection/overview

As an agreement hasn't been mede, they don't have to refund your deposit.

I love arguing with agents and landlords, you start to enjoy it after 12 years of renting and at my age principle is worth more than a few £100. So I wish I was in you're situation today ;)

I understand if not everyone wants to be an a$$ but because of my attitude I'd tell them that I'll accept all the deposit back plus £50 for lose of interest over the month plus the insult and if they could agree to that so we can move on, it'd be fantastic.

As for their claim

New toilet seat £50 high, they go for £8 new

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Slow-Closing-Toilet-Seat-White/dp/B00D92QHN0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1410790822&sr=8-3&keywords=toilet+seat

as it wasn't new the calculation is 'item cost / expected life span * years of use' so get them to go through the figures on the £8 if they really want a new seat and ask for them to back up the claims with dated receipts, and definitely ask them "would they have charged you £50 if they repaired it while you were renting there?"

Agent charge: not acceptable, they wouldn't receive that when it goes to court. Never agree to it and tell them if they insist on the charge then you'll deal directly with the landlord, so request his details. They might not want that because if its agent managed then they could lose their client so they're likely to cave in.

Repair to bathroom door: when was their last pictures taken? if they don't have one then it can be claimed it was there before you moved in. Did you do a checkin and was it on that? if it wasn't an independently checkin then it still can be argued that it was left out.

General cleaning including limescale & Curtain cleaning, Lounge and Bed: I can't help too much with this one, It is what it is. You can try the route of time over cost or seeing cleaning quotes. I don't have much experience with that because I pay for a cleaning company as I'm too lazy to do it myself.

Final advice

Last bit of advice, you have to way up the cost, time and principle of this. How much do you want back, how long are you prepared to argue and how far into the process are wanting to go as time is money for you too. Keep in mind, you don't have to agree to anything the agent offers, request the deposit scheme details and put through a claim with them. It'll take some time, the scheme will suggest something and again you don't have to accept it. You're last line is to go to small claims court, contacting a solicitor, but that could cost more than the £205 with no guarantee you'll get the £205 you're arguing for. Swings and roundabouts but I'd certainly argue to high hell and back over the agent fee, just think if landlords could charge a fee to give back the deposit - sicking. Good luck.

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The toilet seat was not new when I moved in six years ago,

Six years? IIRC, six years is about how long things like that should last, it's definitely about six years with carpets for example.

So if an item is only supposed to last six years, then it needs to be replaced after the six years. I imagine (although don't take this as gospel) that even if you damaged it, it would still be liable to be replaced.

Poster above is right that you only have to replace equivalent but as I said, there's a general length of time things should last. I'll bet the item wasn't new when you moved in too!

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I imagine (although don't take this as gospel) that even if you damaged it, it would still be liable to be replaced.

Sorry odd typo that one. I meant, you wouldn't be liable to replace it after six years has elapsed, or around that sort of time.

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You might want to consider shooting off a quick no frills complaint to the NAEA or property ombudsman with regards to the fee to dispute your deposit, I wouldn't hold much hope that anything will come off it, but its always good to let the governing body have a record so they can slowly push through policy changes for future renters. It's a scare tactics to get around the deposit protection scheme and that's just wrong.

http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/how-to-complain-about-your-estate-agent

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If I were you I would send them a registered letter (making them sign for it will focus their minds!)

I'm assuming you cleaned the place to a professional standard as you left in which case:

Firstly I'd reject each charge withe a reason:

* Curtain cleaning, Lounge and Bed (contribution only) - £60

- The fact they are asking for a contribution is an admission that you are not contractually liable to the charge and so you reject it,

- In the alternative you reject it as after 6 years they will need to prove damage over and above fair wear and tear.

* Repair to bathroom door (for a small hole about 1cm in diameter which was there before I moved in) - £30

- Reject on the basis that it is in the same state as when you moved in.

- In the alternative fair wear and tear (especially if it is where a door stop touched the door).

* Replacing toilet seat (which was worn and damaged before I moved in) - £50

- fair wear and tear

(why did you not report it yourself?)

* General cleaning including limescale - £25

(Did you have annual inspections? - if you did use that as evidence that you cleaned regularly to an agreed standard) therefore any build up of lime scale is fair wear + tear

* Agent charge - £54

- Unless there is a contract term you have no liability to this as far as I can see.

As well as rejecting each charge remind them that they admitted no charges were due by failing to inform you within 10 days as per the contract term.

Demand return of the deposit within a reasonable time (14 days?) and a copy of the deposit protection scheme used to protect the deposit, or you will be forced to consider taking further action.

Address the letter to the landlord c/o the letting agent... as your contract is with the landlord. If you have the landlords address send a copy there too. (check your contract for details of where to send notices and make sure one of the letters goes there).

(make sure you put the CC address on the letter too which shows both people who open the letter you are not messing!)

If you genuinely feel that one of the charges is reasonable then accept it and state what you think should be returned to you.

In summary I suggest being reasonable but firm, keep thinks in writing and send "signed for" and of course keep copies of all letters and postal receipts.

Good luck and remember you are in the right!

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Further (maybe fist in the letter) I would point out to them that you note that you and they agree that (full deposit - £205 [you do the maths]) is not in despute and that you expect that t be paid by return of post.

Then state you despute the rest and take them apart charge by charge etc as in my last post.

Anyway I'll stop waffling and wish you good hunting!

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I agree with the OP that the terms of the tenancy agreement prevail. So long as there is nothing in the agreement to the contrary, if he was not notified of the proposed deductions within the time limit set out in the agreement, no deductions may be made from the deposit and it should be returned without delay.

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I agree with the OP that the terms of the tenancy agreement prevail. So long as there is nothing in the agreement to the contrary, if he was not notified of the proposed deductions within the time limit set out in the agreement, no deductions may be made from the deposit and it should be returned without delay.

Doesn't matter about the tenancy agreement in my opinion. It's up to the DPS or Mydeposits etc to decide how much money the landlord gets from the deposit. If charges for cleaning are deemed unfair by the OFT, then there's no way that a landlord can get away with charging their own fee for the tenant to get the deposit back.

The whole idea of deposit protection is to put the process into the hands of a third party. The landlord surely can't dictate things by inserting unfair terms into a tenancy agreement.

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By the way - regards cleaning: this is why it's so important that you take your own inventory when you move in. You only have to leave the place in as good as a state that you found it in.

When I moved into a flat, the place was filthy and the agency still tried to charge me £50 in cleaning fees when I moved out. But as I'd done my own inventory, they didn't have a leg to stand on besides it being an unfair term regards Office of Fair Trading as I've mentioned.

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Doesn't matter about the tenancy agreement in my opinion. It's up to the DPS or Mydeposits etc to decide how much money the landlord gets from the deposit. If charges for cleaning are deemed unfair by the OFT, then there's no way that a landlord can get away with charging their own fee for the tenant to get the deposit back.

The whole idea of deposit protection is to put the process into the hands of a third party. The landlord surely can't dictate things by inserting unfair terms into a tenancy agreement.

But the question is not how much can be deducted, but whether anything can be deducted at all. Here a claim can only be made if notified within a specified period. No notification was received in time and accordingly no claim can be made against the deposit. The condition cannot be unfair because it favours the tenant. Unless the tenancy agreement provides to the contrary, the landlord is not prevented from making a claim, but the deposit has ceased to be a security and the agent has no right to hold it.

Edited by Damocles

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By the way - regards cleaning: this is why it's so important that you take your own inventory when you move in. You only have to leave the place in as good as a state that you found it in.

When I moved into a flat, the place was filthy and the agency still tried to charge me £50 in cleaning fees when I moved out. But as I'd done my own inventory, they didn't have a leg to stand on besides it being an unfair term regards Office of Fair Trading as I've mentioned.

AIUI the inventory is more for the landlord's protection not yours - if it wasn't mentioned in the inventory then they've got no reason for charging you, so with no inventory at all there's not much the landlord could do if you've trashed the place since they wouldn't be able to prove that it wasn't in that state when you moved in.

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AIUI the inventory is more for the landlord's protection not yours - if it wasn't mentioned in the inventory then they've got no reason for charging you, so with no inventory at all there's not much the landlord could do if you've trashed the place since they wouldn't be able to prove that it wasn't in that state when you moved in.

I agree, an inventory is normally better for the landlord but there's nothing stopping you from making your own. The best thing to do is to go round the property with a dictaphone, noting any defects, damage, dirt etc whilst taking pictures.

That is miles better than all the landlord inventories I've seen, which generally involve a simple tick the box exercise.

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