I have a long and complex issue I would desperately like some advice or help with please.
My husband and our 3 kids and myself rented a property on the 29th October 2015. From the start we experienced several issues with the agents because the initial agent subcontracted their lettings department to a northern based company and it was chaotic due to the very nature that they were telephone based. On the day we moved in we were told we could not occupy the property until midday as they needed time to conduct the check-in process. This cost us as we had hired a van from 8-5 but only had use from 12-5. We had paid our rent and deposit in full the previous day so one would have though they should have done this prior to the date of our move. Anyway, long story short…after a few months the original agents took back their lettings to be run in-house again. By this time we had experienced numerous issues with the property from not receiving our inventory at all, which was a concern to us as the property was dilapidated and falling apart, to power cuts, to gas problems to dishwasher problems to dryer problems to plumbing problems and many more…so because of all the issues we had experienced so far, we asked the agents if they thought the landlords would be willing to allow us to reduce our tenancy from 12 to 6 months (this was now November). right away the agent became defensive and said no. We carried on as usual but very unhappy as we were paying £1300 per month and didn’t think the 3 bed bungalow with all the problems was worth it. Anyway, at time Christmas 2015 we received notification from the agent that the landlord’s father had died (this was his house we were renting) and that she will want to sell at some point. We thought this might give us an early exit. Time went on and I requested an inventory report fir the hundredth time as we had not received one since we moved in. I also asked the new agent what would happen when we move out as we hadn’t received our inventory and were concerned about the safety of our deposit in the end. She said the other agents messed up and they would have to bear some of the responsibility in the end. Anyway, having had been put through so much in way of endless appointments we had to oversee due to everything in the house breaking down (I would say a total of about 15/20 appointments in 4 months with either a plumber/electrician/landlord/estate agents etc…we were then informed that the landlords wanted to sell the property therefore we would now be expecting viewings etc.. I expressed my feelings about this and said we would not allow any further appointments due to the amount of administration and inconvenience we had suffered since our tenancy commenced and that we did not even receive and apology from the landlord’s or a refund for the troubles. I therefore refused any viewings during the remainder of our tenancy. They then came back to us and all of a sudden they agreed to let us out of our tenancy early, which by this time we had refused as we had been looking for suitable houses and did not find a single one in 5 months of searching. They then played tit for tat and revoked their offer to let us leave early. By this time things between us had become extremely sour and our relationship with them extremely hostile. In September 2016, we finally found a property which we liked and was empty and available immediately. We then told the agents we would be leaving our tenancy one month early and that they could take the last months rent out of our deposit and to cut a long story short she threatened us with legal action, called our current landlords to give us a bad reference after she already gave a good reference and basically did everything in her power to mess up our move. Eventually, she came back and humbly stated that the landlord’s were happy for us to vacate the property early and that no action would be taken against us (obviously, as they were desperate to sell).
Now for the main issues…
Our deposit is a total of £1950, minus the rent for one month and 4 days which we are in agreement with so we believe the total amount we should pay is £1470.96. They, unsurprisingly are claiming from us a total of £2750 roughly which is basically the amount we agree that we owe in rent plus one month’s rent (coincidently if you get my drift, in retaliation to us leaving one month early). The checkout inventory and the agents have made ridiculous claims about carpet stains, broken windows, broken tiles, and numerous other unbelievable things that are just extortionate of which some are not even in the inventory. I have requested evidence of the receipts for the replacement of all the items they are claiming to have had to replace and my request was refused. I requested evidence of the cleaning invoice or quote which happens to have been dated after my request was made. I also do not believe that they had any intentions to carry out the works claimed on the proposed deposit deductions spreadsheet as they sold the property less than one week after we vacated.
I have some evidence that they have falsified quotations/invoices with the company that did the cleaning. By their own admission they have had a long relationship with the cleaning company who coincidently also happen to be the company that conducted the checkout inventory. All this is concerning as I feel that each of the parties namely, the landlord, the agent, the inventory company which also happens to be the cleaning company, all have a (unfair to us) vested interested in each other and that is that they have exaggerated and falsified evidence against us in order to seek as much damage as they can approximately £1304 which is £4 more than a months rent. I would like to know how to proceed with this case as I believe it is not merely a deposit dispute but also a deliberate attempt to defraud us. I have also today discovered that our landlords did not protect our deposit for 3 months after we moved in. Please could someone tell me wether to go straight to court with the whole deposit dispute or to use the DPS resolution process? Also, as I believe they are defrauding us I think this is a matter for the courts so do I file a claim combining all three elements; the deposit dispute, the late protection of the deposit and the fact that they have falsified documents and are claiming extortionate amounts of money which we do not owe?
Please help and thank you in advance. I am happy to provide more information and please excuse the waffling, but it is complicated.