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Question from tenant regarding deposit deductions

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316 views 3 replies latest reply: 01 December 2015
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Tenant

Hello. I’ve just moved out from a room where I’ve lodged for the last 4 years (49 months, in fact). There was no written tenancy agreement and no inventory. I paid a deposit of £300 when I moved in.

I left the room in the same condition as I found it, with four minor exceptions listed below.

She four issues in particular:

(1) The only valid one in my opinion. There was a minor spillage on the wall behind the waste bin which I didn’t notice on my ‘final clean’ of the room. I offered to clean it during the landlady’s inspection, but she derided me and tried to make me re-clean the whole room, so I thought screw it.

(2) There is some wear and tear on the wall at the head of the bed. There’s no headboard, so over the last 4 years, the pillows and mattress have rubbed against the wall and left a bit of wear.

(3) There is some minor discolouration on the wall below the light switch. I contend that this is normal wear and tear, a result of fumbling for the light switch over 49 months.

(4) She claims there is damage to the carpet just inside the door. I contend that this is normal wear and tear from 49 months of coming in and out of the door. It’s barely visible in the images or in real life.

I contend that all of these ‘problems’ are reasonable wear and tear, except the first which I offered to clean but was insulted for my efforts.

Not only is my landlady refusing to give back the deposit, she insists the room needs to be “fully redecorated” and that I owe her more money for things like paints and rollers, a decorator to fully redecorate the room, new carpet, etc., etc.

It’s worth noting that she has recently redecorated her kitchen and lounge, and it seems she wants to redecorate this room – at my expense.

Also she has decided to claim ownership of some of my items. I have left the house and taken my items with me, but she claims they were hers. Neither of us have receipts and there is no inventory of what was present in the room at the start of tenancy.

I consider this outrageous. But, when I think about it, given that there is no tenancy agreement, and in particular no agreement (signed or verbal) regarding what condition the room should be left in, am I liable to pay anything at all for the cleaning/redecorating of the room or of the items she claims are hers? Legally, is there some secret rule that I am bound to but unaware of?

Thanks for reading!

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Administrator

Hi Jack

If there’s nothing in writing then neither of you has more right to anything than the other. I’m not a lawyer but as I understand it that money remains your property until she can prove a right to it. If she can’t then she’s not entitled to hold on to any of it. I’m guessing that as there’s no tenancy the deposit wasn’t protected so you don’t have recourse to the disputes service of a deposit protection scheme. So, your only option is to go via the courts to get the money back – this may sound intimidating but it’s a very straightforward process for which you don’t need a solicitor – this guide tells you exactly how to go about it. Make sure you follow the steps about putting things in writing as that’s very important.

I am not sure but are you definitely a lodger? If you fall into the category of a tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy then the landlord should have protected your deposit and you can take action/seek compensation for the lack of protection. You can still be a tenant even without a tenancy (look at the criteria in the link above).

In terms of your deductions, I’m not a lawyer but what she’s asking for is clearly wear and tear – perhaps even the minor spillage may come under this category. She thinks she can intimidate you into just paying to redecorate her room – this is sadly not unusual. Use the guide above and get your money back.

Alex

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Tenant

 Hi Alex,

Thanks for the reply. Yes I was a lodger. No deposit protection scheme and no receipt either (she always refused to give paperwork), but thankfully there was a witness when I handed it over.

Do you know if a letter of action for a small claim can be sent by email? Would this be acceptable? I’d rather not give the old landlady my new address, as I don’t trust her.

Thanks, Jack

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Administrator

Hi Jack

There’s some info here on the process of making a claim. If it was me I would send it via registered post so that you have proof of delivery. Perhaps you could put a c/o address (care of) or use a post office box? However, I’d check that with Citizens Advice to make sure that wouldn’t invalidate your claim.

The trouble with serving anything via email is proving it has been received so I’m pretty sure the courts wouldn’t be happy with it (although, as I mentioned, I’m not a lawyer).

Hope that helps.

Alex

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