Bit of a long story so bare with me.
We rented a small annex to a larger house out in the countryside and lived there happily for 9 years. Our landlord, who was a wonderful old chap, lived in the larger house so we saw him nearly every day and got on very well with him. We looked after the place when he went away, shared our broadband connection with him and I helped with his computer problems, mobile phone etc. (he was in his 80’s) as that is what I do for a living. So we got on really well.
He had two daughters and a son who would visit now and then and we also got on well with them. They used our broadband for their ipads etc. and I would help if they had computer issues etc. So, all going swimmingly well.
Then disaster struck and our landlord became ill. He was fit as a fiddle up to then but over a period of 6 months he deteriorated. I helped from time to time and we had discussions with the family about what might be wrong and how we could all muck in etc. Then one evening he became seriously ill, so much so that I had to physically help his partner to dress him as he could hardly move. It was so sad to see him like that. Eventually a doctor was called and he was taken into hospital and diagnosed with two large brain tumours, which were inoperable. Just a few weeks later he passed away. For us it was like losing a member of our family and we had a real hard time with it.
Obviously we knew the family were suffering and so as not to cause them any further worry and knowing they were going to sell the property we offered to move as soon as they needed us to and also to help with estate agents visits etc., generally making things as easy as possible.
Our late landlords partner stayed in the house for a couple of weeks but she also had her own place and eventually she felt should could no longer keep living in a house with so many memories. We agreed to look after the place and feed the cat, who had been there well before we moved in. And so it went on for 6 months. The family had been advised to wait before putting the house on the market and so this was left until the following February.
Eventually a buyer was found and we were given two months notice, which although sad was fine with us. We didn’t realize how the rental market had changed in the past 9 years and it was tough to find a place but we eventually did and prepared to move out a few days before the end of the two-month notice period.
At this point I should mention that the annex had it’s own propane tank at the top of the garden. The main house had one also. Our contracts were separate though and before signing with Calor I had asked them what would happen should we need to move. We were told the contract would simply be cancelled and a new contract taken out with the new owners. At the time we left the tank was 50% full, which equates to approx. £280 of fuel. We assumed this would simply be taken over by the new owners and all would be good. Wrong!
On the day of moving everything was pretty manic. The family were clearing the main house or at least what was left in the main house as they had moved various things over the previous few weeks. One of the daughters had arranged for a house clearance company to come and asked if there was anything we would like taken at the same time. We didn’t need our fridge/freezer, bed or sofa so we let the house clearance company take those whilst we were there. There were also some things in the garage that we did not need and again it was agreed the company would take them.
It was a really hard move. You accumulate a lot over 9 years! Eventually after a very long day we had most things packed but agreed with the daughter that we would return the next day for the remaining stuff and also to clean the place. This we did and our deposit was returned to us. All good so far.
Fast forward two months and we are being chased by Calor for the cost of the remaining fuel in the propane tank. They say although we were not penalised for ending the contract early that did not mean we were not liable for the cost of the fuel in the tank. Ok, fair enough but then if the new owners were going to use that gas then surely they should pay for it?
I contacted the new owners and they told me that in the contract of sale ALL the remaining fuel on the property was included in the sale. This was the first we had heard of it so I contacted the daughter and after some delay she got back to me saying that it was indeed included in the sale and asked how much Calor wanted for it. So I told her about the £289.
After another few days delay she replied that they felt this bill was our responsibility. They had reached this conclusion because of the “state we left the annex in” and the “sheer amount of stuff we left behind”. Also she spent a whole day cleaning the place after we left and despite this our deposit was returned in full.
Naturally I was not only shocked by this response but also hurt and disappointed. We had not left the place in any state whatsoever. We cleaned it and I took photos at the time as a precaution. The place was in no worse state than when we moved in 9 years ago! and even at that time, the company that did the inventory said that we could not be charged for any wear and tear because everything was already so worn out! In all the time we were there the only things that was replaced was the cooker and that wasn’t until 5 years into our tenancy and only because the weld that held the door on had broken away. The cooker was at least 30 years old. No other money had been spent on the place in that time. We paid for all the decorating ourselves and kept the place clean and tidy at all times.
I think the bottom line here is, one, they had no right to include our fuel in their sale and not even discuss it with us and two, the place was left as clean as we found it. No damage to anything in all that time and certainly no reason to withhold a deposit, which is why it was returned.
That house sold for over £700,000 and the money was split between the three children. They were all fairly wealthy even before that and now, they are trying to get out of paying for something they should never have sold in the first place?
I have not replied as yet. I want to calm down a bit first. Would appreciate any feedback on this. Were we wrong? Did we not do something right? Why are they behaving like this? Their father would never have done such a thing.
Thanks for reading. Sorry it was so long winded. I actually left out quite a bit!