How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask leanne-jones Your Own Question
leanne-jones, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 183
Experience:  Barrister
Type Your Property Law Question Here...
leanne-jones is online now

Last week I put down a holding deposit on a flat in Islington

Customer Question

Last week I put down a holding deposit on a flat in Islington equivalent of 2 weeks rent (585 per week) as requested by the letting agent. At the time of the viewing, I noticed that the prior tenant had been a smoker due to the tobacco odour in the flat. Initially I presumed that this could be addressed with a simple deodorizer, although having researched the topic (see it seems that removing the odour could be a complicated process, and may involve repainting and other professional interventions. Neither my partner nor I are smokers, and a special requirement was put in our AST contract to indicate no smoking is allowed, and any perception of that at the end of the tenancy would incur cost. I have asked the letting agent / landlord to address the odour, and all they are willing to do is put deodorizers in the apartment, even though my research tells me this is not a long term measure. Independent of the bad smell, I’m not sure what the health implications are of the remaining residues, although I’m not happy about giving the landlord the benefit of the doubt. If they refuse to address my concerns and I therefore pull out, what legal standing do I have to get the holding deposit back? Can the letting agent refuse? If they decide to hold some of it back to meet their administrative costs, how much can be considered reasonable? Thanks…
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  leanne-jones replied 4 years ago.
Hello - my name is Leanne and it will be my pleasure to assist you today.

Do you know if the previous tenants had a no smoking clause too?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No I don't, but I could certainly ask? What difference would that make? The no-smoking clause was a special condition added to our contract, it's not part of the standard contract. Either they learnt from their experience, or the previous tennant simply ignored it.


In the end, if I pull out due to lack of agreement on how to proceed on this, can the letting agent retain the 2-week holding deposit? Are there even legal grounds for a holding deposit? I haven't signed anything...

Expert:  leanne-jones replied 4 years ago.
I would ask because this would mean the Landlord then has a duty to deep clean the property.

Given that the previous tenants were smokers and you have a no smoke clause I would expect the Landlord to make sure the property is deep cleaned.

However I would notify the agent/Landlord of your concerns about the attempts to rid the smell. You should give the deodorizer a try but say to the Landlord that if this fails and if they refuse to deep clean that you will want out of the agreement.

You could consider this to be a breach of contract being non smokers. It would affect your enjoyment of the property and as such if it went to the very heart of the contract, you would be entitled to terminate.

As for your deposit it should be protected and if they refuse to give you this back then you would be entitled to raise a dispute with the tenancy dispute service. They will consider both sides and decide whether your deposit can be returned.

But put the Landlord on notice so he/she is aware of your concerns and why. They could try and hold some of the money for admin, but given you are a non smoker and the property is contaminated, my view is that they would struggle to justify this.

If I can be of any further help then please contact me.

Expert:  leanne-jones replied 4 years ago.
I'm just following up with you to see how everything is going. Did my answer help?