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Another Deposit Withheld

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Guest muttley

My previous landlord has withheld £190 to replace a carpet that,quite frankly,doesn't need replacing.Can I insist that he shows me the bill for the new carpet,or can I ask for the carpet itself!!!?

The carpet was actually damaged by a clumsy policeman dusting for fingerprints,but the police deny this!

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My previous landlord has withheld £190 to replace a carpet that,quite frankly,doesn't need replacing.Can I insist that he shows me the bill for the new carpet,or can I ask for the carpet itself!!!?

The carpet was actually damaged by a clumsy policeman dusting for fingerprints,but the police deny this!

Have a look at the info for tennants, there is a document by the office of fair trading which has an entire section of the landlord with holding deposits. Basically they can't, and they can't take money from the deposit without your consent. You will need to read it to check exactly where you stand, although fair wear and tear can't be taken out of the deposit, it sounds as though the carpet was damaged beyond repair. To be honest, i'll say you got away okay, i've had far more taken from me, but if you want to pursue it arm yourself with the info in that oft 356 document first, it'll have all your answers. Hope that helps.

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Guest muttley

Thanks for the reply,lewis.

Unfortunately I only have internet connection at work,and I am unable to download the document.The damage to the carpet was barely visible,and the letting agent would never have spotted it until my wife pointed it out.My point is that I don't want the landlord to pocket the money.If he thinks the carpet should be replaced then he should replace it.Can I demand proof?

The LL is clearly miffed that we left just before Christmas and so is facing a void.He has also withheld £100 for "marks on the walls" and "bare patches on the lawn"

The letting agent described the property as "immaculate" when we left and that we were his best ever tennants.The bare patches on the lawn were there when we moved in.The agent had even suggested we tell the LL to relay it.

The amounts involved are pretty small to us,but I get the impression that the landlord sees the deposit as rightfully his (he even suggested to the Agent that he should withhold money because the sun had faded the lounge carpet!!).

All in all he was a good enough LL,but he's been petty over the deposit.We were quite tolerant over his unwillingness to fix a broken dryer.The dryer was still under warranty,but HotPoint refused to honour it as the LL had had it delivered to his home address.

Any advice before I get bored and let it go will be much appreciated.

I may just have to settle for letting Mrs Muttley loose on the Letting Agent (Ouch!!)

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The damage to the carpet was barely visible,and the letting agent would never have spotted it until my wife pointed it out.

In that case it is almost certainly reasonable wear and tear - that basically means that if the flat looks like it would do if the landlord had lived in it for a year they can't charge you for any redecorating. If the walls need repainting once a year for instance (fingerprints, marks whatever) that is reasonable wear and tear.

They almost certainly won't really replace the carpet, but don't waste time asking for proof etc - that just allows them to keep the money now and kick it into the long grass. Just tell them they are wrong in their interpretation, and that if you had to point it out to them they can't really claim it to be anything more than reasonable wear and tear (quote the law if you can to add weight). Also be prepared to threaten to or actually take them to the small claims court. It's the only way to get the money back, but it does work if you're prepared to go to the effort (quite cheap, and most landlords/agents assume that you 1) don't know the law and 2) can't fight your corner.

(And I'd also strongly suggest that next time you don't pay the last month's rent... at least till they change the law on deposits and make it more difficult for landlords to rip tenants off)

Edited by Magpie

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Guys, please think a bit more before posting bad advice, a lot of what has been posted on this thread is misleading at best.

Quite frankly, OP, we need considerably more information before coming to a conclusion. There are many issues to consider here.

First of all, what is fair wear and tear? Basically, it is defined as "damage" to the carpet caused by normal daily use. Quite obviously, a carpet being dusted for fingerprints is not usual day to day use, and so it quite clearly does not fall under "fair wear and tear".

Second issue. Such a damage would in no way justify the replacement of a carpet, certainly IMO. Any damage caused in this way is definitely a problem, as I would say it is a defintie grey area. However, I cannot possibly see how dusting for prints would cause any kind of permanent damage to the carpet.

Third. Any replacement of the carpet must be done like for like. In other words, if the carpet is, for example, 10 years old, then the landlord could only charge you for a very similar carpet that is in the same condition(ie ten years old). If replacing for a new carpet(which is fair enough, he cannot really be expected to go and find a ten year old carpet), then he can only charge you a percentage of the cost, dependant on the age and condition of the carpet prior to you moving in.

Finally, as a kind of side issue, yes you can demand a bill for the carpet, you have a legal right to the receipt. Demanding the carpet itself I do not even understand.

Sorry, just to correct Magpie. Do not withhold the last months rent without reason.....you will only find yourself in court and lose. This is, quite simply, very bad advice, definitely to give in a general situation. ONLY in very certain conditions should you withhold rent in this way.

Edited by MrShed

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Sorry, just to correct Magpie. Do not withhold the last months rent without reason.....you will only find yourself in court and lose. This is, quite simply, very bad advice, definitely to give in a general situation. ONLY in very certain conditions should you withhold rent in this way.

Yes, fair enough, that was a bit intemperate. But my experience is that landlords always do this, I've twice had to get the money back from small claims and once from threatening it, and in the end I found the only way that worked for me was to calmly withhold the last months rent and point out that I would be perfectly willing to pay any reasonable bill for damage they wanted to send. I was never taken to court for that - it's not really worth the landlord's time especially if you make sure you communicate the situation calmly to them. It puts the onus on them to prove that there has been actual damage, and so far as I can see most landlords just see the deposit as extra money for them.

But it's not for everyone and you need to make your own decisions on anything like that. However it still seems to me exceedingly unlikely that damage to a carpet that had to be pointed out can be something they should charge for.

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Magpie, you have a fair point. And, to be totally honest, I would personally actually do the same, and withhold the last months rent. However, it is dangerous to indiscriminately and generally advise it, as it would depend upon the individual circumstances, and also on certain wording in the AST. Apologies if I came over too strong....as seems to be a habit on these forums, I always post when I get in from a night out! Actually I am quite surprised that my spelling seems to be ok!! :D

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Mr Shed,

No worries, you were right to correct me.

Actually I was just thinking about it, and putting the deposit thing aside for a moment, your previous post makes me realise there are two issues here

Firstly is this damage more than reasonable wear and tear.

Secondly, if so are they really replacing the carpet.

I was a bit hasty to say forget about the receipt, but my thinking is that if you get hung up on a receipt at this stage, you are accepting point one, that this is damage which the tenant can be held accountable for and skipping to stage two. I'd be inclined to fight the first argument first by pointing out that landlords are responsible for upholding their properties and stating that this is reasonable wear and tear.

If that fails you can still go back and fight on the second point, and asking for a receipt would then be useful in any future claim.

Maybe the thing is to make sure your correspondence covers both points - saying in longer form that 1) I don't believe this counts as more than reasonable wear and tear and 2) regardless of that if you keep my money I will be expecting to see a receipt - that might be enough to make them realise you are going to pursue this beyond the point where it's worth their while fighting it.

And a final disclaimer as Mr Shed says, this is just friendly advice - the CAB or even a solicitor (you can get legal aid for this I think - I certainly did once, but a long time ago) would be more reliable.

Edited by Magpie

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Guest muttley

Top advice guys!!

We'd already paid the last months rent,and would have been reluctant to go down that route anyway.However,we are going to inform the agent that we intend to contest the full amount.I'll let you know how it goes.

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To kind of sum up a bit....although whether you should be liable at all is maybe slightly in doubt one way or another, it is a definite that you are in no way responsible for a full cost of replacing the carpet.

The damage described is definitely not fair wear and tear, but it also is not your fault. I would be inclined to push it right up to court level, as I do not believe that any judge would find against you for this.

A few points for if you do end up having to pay for some of it:

- Demand to see the receipt. You have a legal right to the receipt. They cannot, unless it is in your AST(doubt it), charge you for "future loss" ie compensation. They must actually replace the carpet then.

- Demand to see evidence of the damage. I find it unbelievable that this described damage cannot be removed by a professional carpet cleaner for a fraction of the cost you have mentioned above.

- They cannot charge you for the full cost of the carpet, as stated above. Ensure you know how old the carpet is if possible, and check very carefully the description of the carpet on any receipt.

EDIT

Oh and as Magpie says, yes you can always consult with the CAB(I personally wouldn't recommend them, their knowledge is severly lacking) or a solicitor. A good letting law solicitor is Painsmiths, do a search on google....they will also reply free to emailed queries. However, there isnt a lot they will say more in this case, basically they will say pursue in small claims court if it is not damage caused by you, and you certainly don't need a solicitor to go to SCC.

Edited by MrShed

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When these threads come up people often say, 'Well, you got off lightly' or 'Probably not worth the hassle of pursuing it', etc.

Letting agents or landlords that try to steal all or part of a deposit over spurious claims or try to get you to pay for wear and tear issues, or damage that was always there are common thieves.

If someone lifted £900, £150 or £10 from your wallet you'd be mighty annoyed.

Edited by CrashedOutAndBurned

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I had to pay for an Inventory, and I left my previous flat in an immaculate condition. However these new breed BTL had furnished the flat to a high standard and obviously got very close to the property. After 6 months of mould and damp due to a fault on the new build flat, I left the flat to be accussed by the (the landlords were a gay couple) the 'female' version of the couple as living distgustingly. When I moved in, he even told me the former tenant smelt, because he was a vegetarian. I should of saw the signs then. My point is, on the check out nothing was mentioned about the over hob, however they replaced it at cost to me from my deposit despite it not being on the inventory as any damage. (incidently the deposit was held with the letting agency and they released it under the LL direction - that's another story). Apparently oil burn stains where on the one of the hobs!!! It is ridiculous, and as I can appreciate Mr. Shed giving the balance to the argument, but in fairness, most landlords do this, they will try to cover their costs, have a little refurb, upgrade the property at cost to you. It is disgusting, unfair etc. but that is what they do, it is normal practice. And with that said, you can understand why 'our' advice is withhold your last months rent, to the disgruntlement of Mr. Shed and other landlords it's quite ironic they're saying that's not right, that's not fair. But they should really practice what they preach. They force us to take drastic measure to protect ourselves or they will take advantage at the vulnerability of holding our deposit which we give to them in trust.

How did the landlords get all the power, the OFT document has realligned this somewhat, but the relationship will always be flawed, it will never be a win win situation. LL will never be happy with the prospect of their property coming back the same with the prospect of a void period. They will take it out on you and often do and you have no comeback. You can take them to court, go to small claims court, see an arbitrator... that's what they bring you to.

:angry:

I feel sorry for people that can't afford a home, can't afford to buy, and feel distgusted with these new-breed landlords who have BTL mortgages and leveraged themselves to the disadvantage of the young working professionals and have the delusion of grandure to think they've done something clever. They haven't, they've merely joined the bandwagon and capitalised on free credit. To hell with all LL and letting agencies, in my eyes they're all spineless w@nkers. Hope that helps.

p.s. I have rent for several years, and never once had a good experience, i satisfy my core obligations, and that is paying my rent on time and maintaining the property and returning it to the standard at which i've received it. i rarely bother the LL or LA for any problems and yet have never received my deposit back 100% and also incurred innoculous charges for anything and everything. It is by no coincidence i have spent all this money and received crap service. They are spineless money grabbing w@nkers. All of them.

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Actually, lewis, I am speaking from a tenants point of view....I am(or was until very recently) a tenant. I just happen to have a decentish knowledge of rental law. It is a shame you have had such bad experiences, but don't tar all landlords with the same brush, the problem is that, like anything, you only hear about bad experiences. Good landlords are actually out there! I personally would withhold the last months rent, as I said above. However, my issue was not with the advice per se, just the very general way it was given. If you do this under the wrong circumstances, and without checking the AST thoroughly first, then the tenant will have many more problems than he initially did. I am not defending landlords in the slightest, indeed I hope that unscrupulous landlords are taken to the cleaners by tenants for their lax procedures. But, just because some landlords are lax with their obligations, does not mean that the tenant should do the same.

Edited by MrShed

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Actually, lewis, I am speaking from a tenants point of view....I am(or was until very recently) a tenant. I just happen to have a decentish knowledge of rental law. It is a shame you have had such bad experiences, but don't tar all landlords with the same brush, the problem is that, like anything, you only hear about bad experiences. Good landlords are actually out there! I personally would withhold the last months rent, as I said above. However, my issue was not with the advice per se, just the very general way it was given. If you do this under the wrong circumstances, and without checking the AST thoroughly first, then the tenant will have many more problems than he initially did. I am not defending landlords in the slightest, indeed I hope that unscrupulous landlords are taken to the cleaners by tenants for their lax procedures. But, just because some landlords are lax with their obligations, does not mean that the tenant should do the same.

Hi Mr. Shed, my thread did turn into a rant, sorry for any offense implied to yourself. I understand there are decent landlords out there, but unfortunately i haven't had the opportunity to meet them which skews my views on LL somewhat. I can really appreciate emphatically both sides of the argument, although my conflict of interest in the debate is that i'm actually a 'tenant', not by choice, but by circumstance like many renters on here.

There will be no solution to this problem, because it only takes one to spoil it for everyone i guess. And ultimately the tenant/landlord relationship falls on very subjective grounds all the time.

oh well, it'll be a new year soon, not to hold any negative feelings or energy, let's hope the housing market normalises to a level where it can sustain both first time buyers and renters alike. And that the government can put in some measures to prevent the market running away with itself as it has done. <_< and finally with an onus of rentals being secondary to the working class being able to stand a chance of purchasing a home and begining a family.

Happy New Year ;)

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Guest muttley

That letter from the Letting Agent:

The LL has instructed us that he is retaining £290.50 for the following:

Police fingerprint powder on the bedroom carpets.The cost of replacing the carpets in the front master bedroom and back left bedroom is £420.50.A copy quotation is enclosed.Lancashire Constabulary have paid LL £230.00 and he is retaining the balance of £190.50.*

Damage to the lawn and painting the walls

The lawn at the rear needs attention as it has several bare patches.

There are a number of marks on the walls,including the hallway,dining room under the light switch,south wall of the kitchen by the radiator,the west wall of the lounge has a dark mark across it,the right hand back bedroom has a blue mark to the left of the door,the left hand bedroom has marks on the walls,the bedroom over the "arch" has a black mark down the north wall and the stairwell has a dark mark on it.

The LL is retaining £100.00 for attention to the lawn and re-painting the walls.

:blink:

Makes us sound like a bunch of hooligans doesn't it?Interestingly,the Agent never pointed any of this out in the six inspections he carried out.He described the condition as "immaculate".

*It is interesting how the LL came up with this figure.The police admit to damaging the smaller carpet but not the larger one.However,the LL has neglected to point out to the Lancashire Constabulary that they have paid him for the more expensive carpet,an overpayment of £39.50.He then charges the balance to us. :o

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There are a number of marks on the walls,including the hallway,dining room under the light switch,south wall of the kitchen by the radiator,the west wall of the lounge has a dark mark across it,the right hand back bedroom has a blue mark to the left of the door,the left hand bedroom has marks on the walls,the bedroom over the "arch" has a black mark down the north wall and the stairwell has a dark mark on it.

Is the house provided with tins of paint? If not, then you can claim that you were unable to repair any marks on the paintwork caused by everyday wear and tear.

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It's all ludicrous isn't it. A few scuffs on the walls, and bare patches on the lawn really don't constitute unresonable damage. It's the landlord's reponsibility redecorate the property to keep it in reasonable condition and it is absurd to expect that it will be in absolutely mint condition.

Best of luck with this, whatever you decide to do.

Remember also that a quotation for carpet is not proof that he is actually going to take up the quotes.

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Is the house provided with tins of paint? If not, then you can claim that you were unable to repair any marks on the paintwork caused by everyday wear and tear.

Meh....sorry, but thats utter rubbish.

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Guest muttley

Ok.We've been to see about a Small Claims.It costs £30 to serve the claim on the LL.I read through the claims forms and apparently I have to serve the claim on the LL at his home address.Problem is we don't have his own address and I'm guessing the Letting Agent will be reluctant to give it to us.What next?

The info pack given to us clearly states that we cannot serve the claims via a third party.

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