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The Knimbies who say No

Deposit dispute in the offing, L L disputes checkout report

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Ok,

 

checked out out of a rental recently, where my family and I (2 adults plus 3 year old child) have lived for 2 years. The agent's inspector conducted a 'Schedule of condition' /inventory report when we moved in and one recently when we moved out. The inspector, who has apparently received training from both the DPS and the APIP (me neither, the Association of Professional Inventory Providers) gave a summary stating the property is in a good clean condition commensurate with that when we moved in, with a few minor marks to the walls. There is a section which asks whether any cleaning to the carpets, Windows or anywhere else is required, which has been filled in as 'n/a'. There then follows a detailed room-by-room breakdown where any issues are noted in more detail, with photographic evidence. In the more detailed breakdown a couple of minor cleaning issues are noted along with maintenance stuff for the LL. The report runs to 23 pages, although is mostly pictures with a couple of comments.

So, the Landlord is apparently unhappy with the report and wants additional cleaning done to a few parts and thinks some damage has been caused. Seems they are unwilling to accept the agent's inspector's report, despite the agent trying to persuade them to leave it. I also sent around 150 photos to both agent and owner upon leaving the property and prior to the report being compiled.

I called the DPS for some advice and although helpful they seemed slightly bemused by the situation and suggested I call Shelter.

Has anyone had to rely on a checkout report from an agent in order to defend themselves against a claim on the deposit made from the same agent..? The agent is the entity listed on the deposit paperwork so it would be them who would make the claim on behalf of the LL I suppose. Agent is refusing to release our deposit for now, we have officially requested it via DPS.

How do I protect myself against this stuff? I don't really want to go through the dispute process but seems like it will be happening. What are the prospects for the deposit to be returned in full? I guess the fact the inspector has had DPS training would surely give their report some credence with the DPS.

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13 minutes ago, The Knimbies who say No said:

Ok,

 

checked out out of a rental recently, where my family and I (2 adults plus 3 year old child) have lived for 2 years. The agent's inspector conducted a 'Schedule of condition' /inventory report when we moved in and one recently when we moved out. The inspector, who has apparently received training from both the DPS and the APIP (me neither, the Association of Professional Inventory Providers) gave a summary stating the property is in a good clean condition commensurate with that when we moved in, with a few minor marks to the walls. There is a section which asks whether any cleaning to the carpets, Windows or anywhere else is required, which has been filled in as 'n/a'. There then follows a detailed room-by-room breakdown where any issues are noted in more detail, with photographic evidence. In the more detailed breakdown a couple of minor cleaning issues are noted along with maintenance stuff for the LL. The report runs to 23 pages, although is mostly pictures with a couple of comments.

So, the Landlord is apparently unhappy with the report and wants additional cleaning done to a few parts and thinks some damage has been caused. Seems they are unwilling to accept the agent's inspector's report, despite the agent trying to persuade them to leave it. I also sent around 150 photos to both agent and owner upon leaving the property and prior to the report being compiled.

I called the DPS for some advice and although helpful they seemed slightly bemused by the situation and suggested I call Shelter.

Has anyone had to rely on a checkout report from an agent in order to defend themselves against a claim on the deposit made from the same agent..? The agent is the entity listed on the deposit paperwork so it would be them who would make the claim on behalf of the LL I suppose. Agent is refusing to release our deposit for now, we have officially requested it via DPS.

How do I protect myself against this stuff? I don't really want to go through the dispute process but seems like it will be happening. What are the prospects for the deposit to be returned in full? I guess the fact the inspector has had DPS training would surely give their report some credence with the DPS.

He's trying it on, the chancer. Here's my view as a non-lawyer.

The deposit is YOUR money until proved otherwise. The landlord needs to prove that he's entitled to it in the same that he would do if there was no deposit at all (it's only there so it is easier to get to if there is a dispute - and you have a right to go to court if you really want to).

Put it this way: without a third party inventory, it's very difficult for a landlord to prove anything and they really struggle with claiming off the deposit without one. Read this:

http://www.depositprotection.com/documents/top-ten-inventory-tips.pdf

You have a third party inventory and it's on your side = sorted. Dispute it. Say that you agree with the checkout report in its entireity (if you do) and make sure that you submit the report you were provided with.

Unfortunately, I don't think there is much you can do to prevent this happening in the first place - chancers exist and probably fancy keeping your money (this is why deposit protection legislation exists!). Don't be intimidated. There's no hearing, just written evidence.

Be aware that many landlords don't understand what "fair wear and tear" is and expect you to return the place unlived in. 

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Thanks. I ought to make clear that the inspection was actually carried out by an employee of the agent, and neither my wife nor I were present, so it's not even 'independent' as such.

Seems the agent has been trying to get the LL to back off, without success. I've asked for the full deposit back and said that the landlord will have to provide amount(s) they wish to claim, and the reasons for doing so.

Crackers.

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You are right to try and get clarity from the Landlord over what they claim from the deposit. The undisputed amount should then be released to you and then you can pursue the remainder.

Good luck

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What grounds could they have for pursuing you through the courts? It might be entertaining to see them try but when you've had the system firmly come down on your side you probably won't even hear of them being laughed out.

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On 7 December 2016 at 9:30 PM, Riedquat said:

What grounds could they have for pursuing you through the courts? It might be entertaining to see them try but when you've had the system firmly come down on your side you probably won't even hear of them being laughed out.

Yeah, I guess their statutory rights to seek redress are unaffected by the agent's action. The only reason I thought of this was because the agent sent an ambiguous email, probably just poorly worded, which stated that the LL wants to take it further and I've released the deposit. I'm mindful of a poster here who was stitched up in court over a carpet or something despite it being noted to be in poor condition at the start and end. It would as you say be a pretty silly situation, I guess the agent realised this, albeit not before asking us to consider offering some dough. I think they really ought to have firmly closed the issue upon production of their own report. Knowing the LL's behaviour I suspect they were kicking up a huge stink over trivialities and probably forced the agent to approach us about issues the inspector had 'missed' in the report.

If anything, I feel the LL ought to be going after the agent if they feel the report is deficient.

Anyway, glad to be away from that particular LL, totally unsuited to their chosen 'profession' In my view. Just a bit of a mockery to be asked to stump,up regardless. I can only imagine what happens to tenants who challenge the inspection report findings when it goes against them.

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As I understand it your conclusion is correct. The agent is acting on behalf of the landlord and he has returned your deposit to you. That's pretty much the end of the matter for you. IF the Landlord disagrees with the actions of his agent then it is up to him to take action against his agent.

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Cheers, that was my growing feeling. Obviously I dunno what has been said between agent/LL at the point the agent decided to refund the deposit, but there's not much else I can do having obtained a satisfactory check out report. I'd hope, in the instance that the LL takes action which establishes (say) that the inspection report was wrong or deficient, that it would be the agent/DPS/APIP that would be responsible for sorting it out.

 

Obviously I dunno what the LL/agent contract says about such a matter either. If it is anything like their AST, it will be full of unenforceable  lapses though.

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The question raised by this thread is a bit of a tricky one. I raised it a while ago here: http://swarblaw.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4128 The question was not resolved to my satisfaction and I have bumped the thread.

Whilst the bottom line is that a party to contract should comply with his obligations and pay compensation if he fails to do so, the question is (assuming no collusion or other funny business) whether a tenant can rely on a first report he has agreed, whoever prepared it. 

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On ‎18‎/‎12‎/‎2016 at 9:54 AM, Damocles said:

The question raised by this thread is a bit of a tricky one. I raised it a while ago here: http://swarblaw.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=4128 The question was not resolved to my satisfaction and I have bumped the thread.

Whilst the bottom line is that a party to contract should comply with his obligations and pay compensation if he fails to do so, the question is (assuming no collusion or other funny business) whether a tenant can rely on a first report he has agreed, whoever prepared it. 

Doesn't the issue become one of fact. With a decision to be made by the first judge as to who's evidence he finds more plausible.

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16 hours ago, sleepwello'nights said:

Doesn't the issue become one of fact. With a decision to be made by the first judge as to who's evidence he finds more plausible.

Obviously that is the case where the evidence submitted by one party conflicts with the evidence submitted by the other. What we are talking about here though is not whether the most accurate report should prevail, but whether the first should prevail if it has been agreed between tenant and landlord and irrespective of whether agreed by the landlord personally or by his agent.

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OK, I'm restricting my response to the circumstances posited by the OP. He has said that he agreed a checkout report with the LL's letting agent. The LL then disputed the accuracy of his agents report. In which case surely the tenant can rely on the report submitted by the agent and the LL then is in dispute with his agent.

If both parties agree that a particular report is more accurate then does it matter whether it was the first or a later report. The issue to my mind is whether the parties agree with it, if they don't then isn't it simply which parties evidence a judge decides he prefers? 

Pragmatically the situation where a subsequent report differs from an original report must be very common and is often the subject of negotiation by the parties involved. If it does proceed to litigation isn't it then a question of fact as to which report is the most accurate not a point of law.

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This isn't legal advice, but I had something a little bit similar a few years ago (before the DPS existed). I had rented a property through a property management company and after some time, the landlord got pissed off with the management company 'taking a cut for doing nothing' and asked us to pay the rent direct to him, which we did. However, the management company still held the deposit and once we vacated the property they returned the deposit in full, along with a line about not caring about the state of the property as they had had enough of the landlord.

From your position, I would assume that your rental contract was with the agency acting on behalf of the landlord and when the agency approved the return of the deposit, through the DPS, they were acting on the landlord's behalf. If the landlord has some kind of issue with the state of the property, it's no longer your issue, and I would expect that if it did end up at the small claims court it would be a very short hearing: the landlord would claim damage, you would defend with the end of tenancy checkout from the landlord's agent and, at that point, everyone would go home - there simply is no case.

Like some of the other posters have mentioned already, these end of tenancy problems normally stem from ill-informed landlords having no understanding of fair wear and tear, seeming to think that their properties should be returned to some kind of show house condition at the end tenancy, rather that reflecting the reality of a poorly maintained house with tired decor, worn out carpets and peeling paintwork.

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On 27 December 2016 at 11:57 PM, gaztastic said:

This isn't legal advice, but I had something a little bit similar a few years ago (before the DPS existed). I had rented a property through a property management company and after some time, the landlord got pissed off with the management company 'taking a cut for doing nothing' and asked us to pay the rent direct to him, which we did. However, the management company still held the deposit and once we vacated the property they returned the deposit in full, along with a line about not caring about the state of the property as they had had enough of the landlord.

From your position, I would assume that your rental contract was with the agency acting on behalf of the landlord and when the agency approved the return of the deposit, through the DPS, they were acting on the landlord's behalf. If the landlord has some kind of issue with the state of the property, it's no longer your issue, and I would expect that if it did end up at the small claims court it would be a very short hearing: the landlord would claim damage, you would defend with the end of tenancy checkout from the landlord's agent and, at that point, everyone would go home - there simply is no case.

Like some of the other posters have mentioned already, these end of tenancy problems normally stem from ill-informed landlords having no understanding of fair wear and tear, seeming to think that their properties should be returned to some kind of show house condition at the end tenancy, rather that reflecting the reality of a poorly maintained house with tired decor, worn out carpets and peeling paintwork.

Cheers, and apologies for missing this a few months ago. The LL is a delusional newbie, not really on board with the professional aspects of providing a service. ie don't be a interfering micromanager, and accept that your own personal expectations of certain behaviour may have no basis in the legal framework of your chosen vocation.

Their delusion also clearly extended to the idea that my wife and I were being given some sort of great deal on the rent it seems, hence the place reappeared with a £50/month hike. It remains empty, and available on Rightmove, nearly 100 days after our contract ran out.

They should clearly sell it, but for whatever reason that would be crazy. 5% gross yield on the rental approximately, nuts. There's just no telling some people though.

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