Return of rent deposits after 11 year tenancy?

by Readers Question

14:54 PM, 4th May 2020
About 3 months ago

Return of rent deposits after 11 year tenancy?

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Return of rent deposits after 11 year tenancy?

We had a tenant on an AST which was renewed every year for 11 years in total. The schedule of condition wasn’t updated each year and unfortunately we didn’t carry our regular inspections, although this isn’t stated in the lease. The property needed a full refurbishment and last year a notice was served to terminate the tenancy.

After the two month notice he refused to leave and an eviction process was undertaken. He finally left the property in March this year. The property was suffering extensive mould which needed eradicating.

Under the lease there was a specific term to keep the premises ventilated and clean any mould on a regular basis. We are asking for him to contribute towards these costs (the rent deposit would cover 50% of the costs).

We raised the issue of condensation and advised how to clean mould back in 2015.

He is saying he opened windows and cleaned the property, but we find this hard to believe.

Are we able to claim these costs and deduct from the rent deposit, or will this be difficult bearing in mind he has rented the property for 11yrs and we didn’t inspect the property regularly and undertake works at the time (even though there was space the fully clean and decorate the mould).

Many thanks Marcus



Comments

Neil Patterson

14:57 PM, 4th May 2020
About 3 months ago

Hi Marcus,

The Burden of proof for a deposit arbitration is always on the landlord to prove evidence of the damage.

Puzzler

17:33 PM, 4th May 2020
About 3 months ago

The DPS will tell you that you must ignore fair wear and tear. You have evicted someone from their home of 11 years (you don't say if there were other reasons) to refurbish so it's a bit hard on the tenant to expect them to contribute to the cost of something you'll be doing anyway. You didn't inspect or maintain the property. Have you before and after photos and a comprehensive inventory? You could try but I wouldn't rate your chances.

Ross Tulloch

9:13 AM, 5th May 2020
About 3 months ago

11 years? Always paid? No arrears? imo I would shrug my shoulders, refurbish and paint and return deposit.

Graham Bowcock

9:14 AM, 5th May 2020
About 3 months ago

Hi Marcus

After 11 years and for such a small amount (you say 50% of the deposit) I think I'd let it go. You could be opening up a can of worms and incurring costs to try and recover some money. No doubt the tenant (and any subsequent arbiter) would regard your approach as a bit unfair.

If you've not done any significant repairs in 11 years, you're not exactly out of pocket on this house, are you?

Perhaps next time inspect regularly and keep an eye on your property.

Marcus A

9:18 AM, 5th May 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Puzzler at 04/05/2020 - 17:33
The costs for the mould cleaning and primer / prep works are about double that of the rent deposit (not claiming additional costs). The total costs of refurbishment work are not being claimed and taking into account wear and tear. Windows were replaced 5 yrs ago and after 6 months the T complained about water. This was inspected and the surveyor / window installer noted condensation and poor ventilation to be an issue. Guidance was given to the T to control condensation which photos at expiry would suggest they haven’t followed. The Flat is a 1 bed flat, and when they moved in they had a small baby and had a second child two yrs later. They stated the flat was becoming too small and last yr notice was served in order to take back possession and refurbish the kitchen.

Marcus A

9:26 AM, 5th May 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Graham Bowcock at 05/05/2020 - 09:14
Thanks Graham - it does seem pointless to have a specific clause about mould and condensation and also to have a deposit. The rents have been kept below market rates throughout (against the advice of the letting agent). We were of the understanding we were helping the T out to keep rental low, giving him chance to save some capital to enable him to move to a larger property with his growing family. The rent deposit would cover just over 10% of the overall repair costs for the flat, which we are asking to pay towards the mould cleaning works.

You might be right, more hassle than it’s worth

James Mann

9:30 AM, 5th May 2020
About 3 months ago

The place is clearly run down and he is being evicted for essential repairs to take place. I think that it is amazing that you think that you can deduct any deposit as you have no proof of condition that will stand up in court and that he has been a good tenant for so long!!

James Mann

9:30 AM, 5th May 2020
About 3 months ago

The place is clearly run down and he is being evicted for essential repairs to take place. I think that it is amazing that you think that you can deduct any deposit as you have no proof of condition that will stand up in court and that he has been a good tenant for so long!!

Marcus A

9:39 AM, 5th May 2020
About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by James Mann at 05/05/2020 - 09:30
It was only the kitchen that had reached a condition it was beyond economical repair. And a full replacement required vacant possession. A number of repairs had been carried out over the years (new kitchen tap, new washing machine etc, cleared blocked drains from tenant pouring fat down the drain). The property was not neglected by the Landlord.

General view seems to be the T after 11yrs can walk away. We had to evict him as he refused to leave and then went to Local Authority to get put in housing, despite him working in City of London (on prob a reasonable salary).

Veronica Mitchell

9:44 AM, 5th May 2020
About 3 months ago

When we have good tenants who pay on time, report repair requirements immediately and generally keep the place tidy, we often do not increase their rent. Hence, they stay for a long time, appreciate that they are not being ripped off and this also saves us doing regular refurbishments. Also, we find that if we increase the rent 5% yearly, there is a chance that the tenant might leave and the 5% increase may equate to extra income of £1080 a year (based on £1800 a month rent). The cost of re-advertising the flat, time cost of viewing and if the flat remains empty for a month, it will negate the potential increase of £1080 for the year. We have had tenants that stayed over 10 years and we've chalked up repairs to wear and tear. Everyone is happy,

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