Deductions from deposit during tenancy

by Readers Question

3 years ago

Deductions from deposit during tenancy

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Deductions from deposit during tenancy

I have just handed in my two months notice to the Estate Agent (EA) managing the flat I’ve been renting. Within a week of handing in the notice I went on holiday for two weeks. I confirmed my time away to the EA by email stating the exact date of my return. I also mentioned that I may have no/limited access to mobile/wifi reception during this time. Deductions from deposit during tenancy

During these two weeks the EA had carried out several viewings of the flat taken place but the potential tenants had rejected the property due to a patch of mould/ condensation issue along the ceiling above the patio doors.

On my return from holiday I found this email from the EA in my inbox:

“I hope you are having a nice time away. Can you please confirm the date you are due to return?
Also we have had a number a viewings at the property, of which the mould/ condensation issue along the ceiling above the patio doors has had a very negative impact. We have a contractor who is able to attend this week to clean it off, they will charge a call out fee of £30 which we will look to recover from your deposit. It is understandably a difficult place to reach without the use of a ladder.”

The damp patch was gone! So it looks like the contractor has already been.

I have constantly battled with damp and mould throughout the flat for the 1.5yrs I lived in the flat. I have to spend cleaning out the mould build up every few weeks mainly in the living room and the bedroom. This is purely for my benefit so I don’t fall sick with build up of mould. Also I am clean freak and house proud. This includes the area mentioned in the estate agent’s email above. I have a ladder and I could reach the area and I have been cleaning the area regularly. Or the the damp/mould would be far more widespread and in a much worse state. Unfortunately I was unable to do much cleaning prior to going on holiday.

The flat is actually a maisonette with no gas central heating. There is a single Robinson Willey Warmplan heater in the living room. The timer on it has never worked and I mentioned this to EA within 7 days of moving into the flat. All the heat escapes to the gallery bed room upstairs so the living room is always stone cold. There is no heating and no double glazing in the kitchen and the bathroom. The extractor hood in the kitchen has never worked and no extractor fan in the bathroom. There is no other heating anywhere in the flat.

My concern is this – I am due to vacate the property end of March. I am a tenant who has never had even penny deducted from my deposit. Each time I vacated a rented property I always make sure the property is returned in a state that matches the check-in inventory if not better. I would never handover a property with damp at the end of the tenancy because I know this is risking deduction from deposit. In this case however I still occupy the property. So did the EA do the right thing in getting a contractor in to clear the damp themselves and expecting me to pay for it during the tenancy without giving me the chance to rectify it first?

I look forward to reading your replies.

Thanks

Darcy

Comments

Mark Alexander

3 years ago

Hi Darcy

I think your agent has totally overstepped the mark in terms of showing the property without permission and charging you for the damp patch.

Question is; is it really worth the fight?

If you wanted to fight it as a matter of principal I wouldn't blame you and I'm very confident that you would win if you raised a deposit protection dispute.

Are you angry enough to deal with the hassle though for the sake of £30? If so go for it. Meanwhile you might want to consider posting a review and rating the service of the agent on http://www.allagents.co.uk/write-a-review/
.

Darcy Kanags

3 years ago

Hi Mark,

Many thanks for your response.

Before I left on holiday I had a chat with the agents and verbally agreed for the viewings to take place during my absence. As long as the agents accompany the viewer I couldn't see a reason not to allow the viewing. At the time I did request the agents to drop me an email confirming date/time they access the property but they haven't done so.

I feel upset that they did not give me a chance to rectify it before calling the contractor. In the first instance I overlook my cleaning I'm charged £30! Yet there have been many occasions where they have ignored my requests for repair work on leaking toilets, showers, security lighting by the stairs/entrance to the flat. I've either given up out of frustration for the lack of response and devised my own workarounds. Due to lack of proper lighting I slipped and fell by the entrance, bruised lip. I contacted the agents for repair work, the response at the time and for subsequent requests was 'the landlord is getting a quote'. So, to date I use a travel torch to access the stair case/entrance for the flat when dark.

So, yes if I fought, it would be as a matter of principle and I hope there is still a case to fight even if I allowed the viewings to happen.

In the mean time will hold back on rating the agent, at least until my check-out inspection is complete.

Thanks
Darcy

Joe Bloggs

3 years ago

you have an argument that the heater is in disrepair and this caused the mould. you also have a good argument that they cannot charge you retrospectively after doing the work (although 30 quid seems very cheap).

If they try to deduct it from your deposit then just lodge a disagreement with the deposit protection scheme. Let them sort it out at arbitration. Based on what you've said they won't be able to claim the money from the deposit and the full deposit should be returned to you. Albeit later than you wanted.

Presumably you know which deposit scheme your deposit is secured with.

Darcy Kanags

3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "25/02/2015 - 12:24":

Thanks for both the comments.

£30 is cheap for the contractor but it is still my pennies and an unnecessary expense as this is something I would have been able to repair myself have done so in the past. The estate agent's argument is that the damp had a negative impact on the viewings. From experience the damp/condensation is an issue that repeats itself in the flat frequently, so no doubt before I vacate the flat in a month's time I will have to clean the same area the contractor repaired.

My preference is to sort this out through deposit protection service too.

Recardo Knights

3 years ago

Hi Darcy,

I would ask the agent for the contact detail of the contractor and a copy of his invoice, as you may require their services in the future. But only as proof payment has been made to a third party as said).

Can't see them refusing but if they do it would seem dodgy. Money may be going to agents pocket!

Then say as you had not given your approval and the problem would have been sorted before you left the property you do not agree to £30 deduction. If money is withheld you would go to arbitration with the DPC.

It is a matter of principle you have bent over backwards to help ( viewings etc) and they have not bothered sorting your problems. If a tenant tells me something does not work it is repaired ASAP.

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