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Remus2004, Barrister
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 71051
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Good afternoon Its a long story but in brief I am a tenant

Customer Question

Good afternoon

It's a long story but in brief I am a tenant whose tenancy ended in April. We were only there six months because the contract had a six month break clause. We actually wanted two years, they offered one year and said we could renew which was fine. When we received the contract we saw the break clause and asked why that was there. The agent told us that the landlord worked in the oil industry and thus had a perilous job. Should he die the family would want to relocate. They said all previous tenants had had the same break clause. To be frank we thought the chances of that happening were slim (God forbid!) and so we signed. The landlord didn't die thankfully but they exercised the break clause less than two months into the tenancy. As you can imagine we were were very upset. We had signed the contract so we didn't have a leg to stand on. I had just had twins so it was not good timing. I mention this because the relationship between us and the agent/landlord was not good from the beginning. The house was handed to us in a filthy condition and they would not pay for the cleaning. I paid as I couldn't bring my new born babies into a house in that condition. There are lots more issues. But here my question. I am Spanish and had no idea of the laws protecting tenants. When we left the landlord wanted to charge us £355 for cleaning and redecorating! I was shocked. We began a dispute via email back and forth and always very slow on the side of the agent. When I found out that they had no legal right to hold onto my deposit, only the disputed amount they promptly returned it just within the 3 month time frame. So now I cannot go to the TDS to resolve the outstanding amount. The amount has now gone down to £160 but I still feel that they are taking advantage. I left the house perfectly clean except for a few areas where we touched up the paint and it was the wrong colour. I agreed to compensate for this but not £160! I asked for quotations but all they sent were invoices for work done but that didn't look authentic. Who can I ask for help now that I cannot involve the TDS? The previous tenant also had issues with them. The agent has done nothing buy lie all the time. Should I just agree to that amount? Out of principle I don't want them to get away with it. They caused me a lot of distress. The landlord is retired and of course he new he was retiring. He just wanted to have the house rented for his remaining six months. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

What would you like to know about this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Sorry I am not sure what more you need to know. I was not very clear in my message?
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.
No, I've read the facts.

I just wondered what your question was about this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok. Who can I turn to to settle this dispute for me? The TDS can no longer do anything as it's over 3 months since the end of the tenancy. Can I take them to court? In your opinion do you think the amount is small and I should just settle. Is it going to be too much hassle and maybe not worth the aggravation?
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.

Have you received the rest of your deposit but for the £160 yet?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes I did but as I mentioned in my message only when I found out that they could not legally hold onto it. They are holding onto £355 and we could try and settle on £160 but I still think it's too much. Sorry Jo the answers to your questions are all in my original text.
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.
Yes, but I'm afraid I will need to spend some time narrowing this down into relevant facts if thats OK?

All I need to know is whether you have been given the remainder back or not? Yes or no is fine. Please don't put yourself to detail.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes i got it back. They are only holding the disputed amount
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.

Have you seen an inventory of the house either before you took it or after?

I suppose that you would not have taken photographs of the property and its condition upon leaving?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
We did the check in and at the time noted all the issues. When I turned up to do the check out they didn't even have the up to date report. The check out report had a couple of minor things such as fluff in the dryer. On the whole the check out was good. The redecoration costs came well after. We took photos only of certain things when we entered but we did take photos of the whole place on leaving as we didn't trust them.
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.
That is helpful.

Its easy enough to claim your money back. You can just sue at the small claims court. You can issue here

This was how claims were always pursued before the schemes can along and arguably it is better.

The question really is what is the chance of success. the first point to make is that this does seem a very high sum for just cleaning. You are likely to get something on that basis alone.

Also, if you have photographs that show the property in a good state then that will be helpful.

However, the really useful piece of evidence here is the inventory upon leaving. If the clerk didn't record a state of uncleanliness then no court is going to accept that it existed. There are some things that clerks can miss because they don't meet the eye but not general disorganisation and visible chaos.

Overall, I would sue. You will probably win.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you that sounds positive. What are the costs for suing through the small claims court? If it's going to cost me more than the claim, is it really worth it? I just don't want them to get away with this kind of thing. They have been getting money out of tenants for years.
Expert:  Remus2004 replied 4 years ago.
Its incredibly cheap. That is the main attraction. Probably about £25-35 for a claim of this sum.