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Landlord claiming smell in the house and not returning full deposit

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1452 views 3 replies latest reply: 13 January 2015

I have recently vacated a property and most likely we’re going to have to use the ADR to get to an agreement on the amount of the deposit to return.

My landord claims that there is a “smell of wee” apparently in the carpet (he actually agrees that the carpet is clean and he’s not sure where exactly is it coming from). When we moved in, 2.5 years ago, my partner complained about a “smoky smell” in the house but the landlord did not take any action. We all agree there is a smell in the house, previously to our arrival, probably due to the old age of the apartment, but nothing to be too bothered about. The landlord reckons that there is a new odour, which I personally couldn’t smell the last time I was there, when I handed back the keys.

He plans to deduct about £150 in terms of professionally cleaninig the carpet, which i find unfair as the carpet is clean and there has definitely not be any spillage of any kind on our part. Also, there has been a number of works in the house that we think might have contributed to any additional smells (new boiler and radiator pipes).

How likely is he to get the deduction accepted? How can he even prove that there is a smell, apart from saying that some tenant candidates said so? There is definitely no such smell!!!

Many thanks for your comments.


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Hi Dave

A few questions that might help:

– Did you have a check in inventory? If so and the state of the carpet/the smell was noted this will make it much harder for the landlord to justify cleaning the carpet.

– Do you have in writing the landlord agreeing the carpet is clean and also the agreement about the smoky smell? This will support your case.

– What does your tenancy say about the state in which the property must be left? Some tenancies will specify something like a professional carpet clean, others may just say it should be left as it was when you moved in (allowing for wear and tear). 

– How old is the carpet? Arguably if it’s very old then a smell is possibly par for the course as wear and tear and the landlord would have to bear the cost themselves.

There’s some info here on deposit disputes. The main thing to remember is that the decision about whether or not to allow the landlord to keep that money will be made by the deposit scheme adjudicator on the basis of the evidence you can both supply. However, what many landlords forget is that the deposit belongs to the tenant unless the landlord can prove their case:

“Remember that the tenant has no obligation to prove his argument, because the deposit remains his property until successfully claimed for by the landlord. A landlord must prove that he has, on the ‘balance of probability’, a legitimate claim to retain all or part of the deposit. If he can’t, the adjudicator must return the disputed amount to the tenant.” (this is taken from My Deposits guidance on disputes, which you might find helpful – the full text is here).

Hope that helps.



 Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time to write such a good your response. Here are some answers:

– Yes I have a check-in inventory, however this is very brief and does not mention anything about the general state of anything. It basically lists the furniture and some objects available in the house, with no further description or state. For the check-out, we agreed that I would leave the keys in the house before leaving. The landlord came later to do the inspection. He’s never claimed that anything is missing so we’re good there.

– I have emails for both things: landlord admitting that the cleaningless of the carpet is good and us claiming the smoky smell shortly after settling in. I also have am email from him, shortly after, saying that he didn’t think the carpet needed further cleaning after inspection.

– I have double checked the lease and unfortunately it states that the carpet has to be professionally steam cleaned before vacating. This can obviously go against us. However this was never reminded at any time during the emails. Also, when I was in the house and I said (by email) that I had cleaned, rubbed and vaccuumed the carpet (which I did), the landord said that “it sounded good” and never said anything like “but you should have done this professionally”.

– The carpet is relatively old, I would estimate 8-10 years, but I’m not sure. When we entered the place we also complained about stains in the carpet that we ended up cleaning ourselves. The carpet is actually in better state now than it was!!

Thank you so much for that documentation, really appreciated. It is really useful.




Hi David

Great, I’m glad it was useful. If your tenancy requires a professional clean then it may be that you do have to do the clean as you’ve legally agreed to it. However, there’s no reason why you can’t find someone to do it who charges less. Also, look at the wording and if it states something like ‘cleaning to a professional standard’ then you might be ok with the evidence you have that the landlord is happy with it.


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