Cookies must be enabled for this site to function properly

Topics / Complaints and disputes 

start a new discussion

Unreasonable landlord - many issues

2 helpful votes
This is the number of people who have indicated that they have found this discussion useful.
785 views 3 replies latest reply: 16 March 2015
Photo
Tenant

I apologise in advance for this lengthy post but I have several issues with former landlady.

We began our tenancy in Jan 2010 which was via a letting agent. For the first year everything went smoothly, repairs were carried out when requested etc and there were several issues including a gas leak a broken shower and a kitchen cabinet that continually collapsed.

However, after the first year  I was contacted by the landlady and advised that she did not want to continue using the letting agent as she felt that they charged her too much for repairs and claimed that the rent was often not paid to her on time. Incidentally I paid rent each month by standing order on the day it was due. She offered to reduce our monthly rent by £50 to compensate. We agreed to this as she appeared to be a reasonable decent person.

Our deposit was initially held with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme as arranged by the letting agent. From here on things went from bad to worse. We had discussion with the landlady regarding where our bond would move to if at all and she advised that the letting agent were refusing to release the deposit due to a monetary dispute she had with them. I had to remind the landlady to arrange a gas safety certificate which I arranged for myself and paid and deduct it from my rent. She visited the property once in the following 4 years and no issues were raised.  However I very often got telephone calls from her during which she would tell me about her marriage and financial worries and she told me on more than one occasion that without the rent she would not be able to pay the mortgage on the house. This was quite a concern as we were constantly worrying whether we would have to move out. In June 2012 I was contacted by her where she advised me that she was being investigated for tax fraud as she had not declared that she was renting a property out. Nearly every month on the day that the rent was due I received a text asking if I had paid it. On her request I had to walk from my bank to hers with the rent in cash as she claimed that standing order payment didn’t always go in on the day that it was due. This was a pain to us as it meant that  I had to finish work early to do this.

Due to us being aware of  her financial worries  we were very reluctant to report any issues with the house as we knew that she would probably be unable to afford any repairs. The kitchen cabinets continually collapse and when there was a flood from poor plumbing under the kitchen sink the flooring was ruined and another kitchen cabinet collapsed. There was also damage to the decoration in the room due to water damage. She was aware that the flood had happened and did pay for a temporary repair on the plumbing but no offer was made to repair the floor.I only ever heard from her buy text each month when he checked that  I had paid the rent into her bank. She had advised me on several occasions that she was separating from her husband but each time this seemed to be sorted out.

Then, out of the blue in January this year we received a section 21 notice. She advised us via text that her marriage had broken down and she was living in a hostel and as she owned a property was unable to get any help with housing herself therefore needed to move back into the property. She advised that she had waited until after christmas in order not to spoil it for us. Personally i would rather have known before christmas as we would have ensured that we had money put aside for the move. My husband had stripped off the wall paper in the kitchen diner and on the hall stairs and landing with the intention to decorate in the new year. We advised her of this and stated that we would make good before leaving and she stated that she had already bought enough wallpaper to totally redecorate the house and that she would let us have the materials if my husband was happy to do the work.

We then found a property and requested a reference from her and she provided us with a good reference. The final few weeks of our tenancy were very stressful as i was suffering with the flu and we were trying to get the decorating done whilst both working full time. We also felt that as she was moving back into the property we would do our best to make things easy for her and replace the flooring in the dining room which had been damaged by the flood and also repaired both kitchen cabinets that had collapsed. A light fitting in the living room had stopped working so we also replaced thius and had a repair done to a light in the kitchen which was also faulty. The total cost of the repair was £350 although at this point we had no intention of asking her to pay as it was a good will gesture to her.

On our final day in the house her daughter arrived to collect the keys and also to take delivery of a fridge freezer. Her daughter raised no concerns about the house  I explained that we were still cleaning as we were a bit behind as my husband was decorating on right up until the final minute which meant that i had to conduct the packing on my own. We finally finished at the house at 930 in the evening.

The following day i received a text from the landlady telling me that she was heartbroken with the state of the house. She complained that the hedges have not been trimmed and that she specifically requested that we maintain the hedges. I explained that they would have been cut in the spring and that we have to pay over £150 each time to get this done so it was not possible to do so before we moved. Incidentally there was no specific mention within the tenancy agreement regarding the hedges.

Before we left  she had also asked us to measure up all the bedrooms and the living room for her as she was going to buy a new carpet. In her text message she stated that the carpets were ruined. When i mentioned that she had advised she was replacing them anyway she stated that she had not intended to replace the underlay which was expensive and heavily soiled. I or her have no way of proving whether underlay was previously soiled as the carpets were not new when we moved in and we have been there for 5 years. The landlady then stated that she will be disputing the return of our deposit all the way. This is where my problem started. I have no idea where our deposit was being held. We were unable to get a straight answer from the landlady and eventually i managed to find out from the former agent that the deposit had stayed in the original deposit scheme for all of this time yet the landlady has decided to move it into a deposit protection scheme account and this only happened 4 days after my tenancy ended. I am now in a position where we are unable to even make a claim on the deposit as it has to wait 28 days from being deposited.

Is the landlady in the wrong for moving the deposit after the tenancy has ended? Also do i have any comeback for not being provided with a gas safety certificate for the past 3 years or so? We are at the end of our tether we have no money whatsoever after the move and paying out for the repairs and i feel that she has acted unfairly. There was no official checkout at their property although she has stated she has a photograph.  Does anybody know where we stand legally with regard to the return of our deposit given that she actually moved it after the tenancy ended and for the last 4 years we have had no information from her with regard to the whereabouts of our deposit.

Any advice on this would be welcome as we do not know where to turn. Thank you.

Photo
Service provider

Did you receive an inventory of the properties condition when you moved in?  If non exists then she can’t deduct anthing from the deposit as she has no proof that the property has deteriorated?

 

I can’t see how the landlord can protect the deposit after the tenancy has ended.   If the deposit was held in the original scheme at the termination of the tenancy then this will be the scheme that you would have to claim from.  I would submit a case with them for failure to repay the depost and allow them to use their free adjudication to decide who gets what.  If no inventory exists, or formal checkout process, then she will struggle to make a case to retain any amount.

 

Without knowing full details of teh deposit protection i can’t give precise advice but i suspect there may be a case against the landlord for failure to correctly protect the deposit and provide the stautory information to yourselves as tenants.  In this case you would be able to take her to court where she could face a find of between one and three times the deposit amount.   If this is the case you could use this threat of court action as a tool to suggest she returns the full deposits.  i.e if she pays you the full deposit back you’ll not drag her through the courts for the deposit issue. 

 

 

Photo
Administrator

Hi Bob

First of all how incredibly unprofessional of the landlady to try and make her personal problems your issue. I know some people share this kind of information genuinely but it’s really not approprite in a commercial relationship. 

In terms of charging you for damage to the property, the starting point for deposits is that the money belongs to the tenant until the landlord can prove otherwise. Without an inventory or other proof she could struggle. There is also the concept of ‘betterment’ which is designed to ensure a landlord doesn’t end up in a better position than at the start of the tenancy – for example, charging a tenant for new carpets when the carpets have 5 years wear and tear to take into account.

You’re right that the new money protection scheme has to deny access to the deposit for 28 days – this is a money laundering protection. I spoke to someone at the TDS and they said there is nothing to stop the landlord doing this in terms of their own rules. However, she would have been required to give them the end date of the tenancy when she transferred the deposit, which would have been 4 days previously! So either they are being very slow on the uptake (possible) or she told an untruth. Legally, I’m not sure whether you have more rights (I’m not a lawyer). What does your tenancy agreement say about return of the deposit? If there are timeframes in there that she doesn’t stick to then she is in breach of your tenancy.

There are reporting obligations with deposits – tenants must be kept informed of where their deposit is held (‘statutory information’). Was the deposit definitely held elsewhere beforehand? If she is only protecting it for the first time now then you can take action against her and ask a court to compel her to repay the deposit in its entirety and possibly compensate you too.

The gas safety certificate is a legal requirement – non-negotiable. A landlord who doesn’t provide tenants with one faces a prison sentence and/or a fine of up to £20,000. Three years is a significant oversight and it’s not up to you to do this on her behalf.

So, what can you do? I would start getting everything in writing – email the landlord, mentioning her comments and that you’re disputing her retaining any of the deposit. Ask her to provide proof of when the carpet/underlay was purchased and how much it cost and remind her that she cannot take any wear and tear from your deposit. Then start a dispute with the scheme that now holds your deposit.

Separately, you might want to mention to the landlord that she could be reported to the Health and Safety Executive for breaking the law with respect to the gas safety certificate – and they could criminally prosecute and fine her – if someone (you) decided to report her. It might seem harsh but what if her lax approach had resulted in an explosion that killed someone? You could also mention she is in breach of the tenancy with respect to the timeframes for returning the deposit (if that is indeed the case) and that you’re going to be seeking legal advice on that (you can speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau or someone at a Law Centre). Those are strong negotiating points.

Hope that helps.

Alex

Photo
Tenant

Thank you both for your replies.

There was an inventory initially albveit very basic and not too descriptive with rgeard to the condition of items. (e.g. in working order).

I am unable to take any action on the online form of the DPS as it seems “frozen” until 2nd April. She has already breached the tenancy agreement in that it states that a dispute has to be lodged within 10 days of the end of the tenancy (we are on day 15 already) and she is unable to do so until 2nd April. There was no formal checkout process, her daughter just came and took the keys. She didn’t even go upstairs. In fact, she then left us there as we were still cleaning and it was agreed we could post the keys as we left.

I guess I will just have to wait until any action can be taken via the DPS but I am so annoyed that it is being dragged out like this. She showed no interest in the property at all as long as the rent was paid (and it was without fail every month) but now it seems like she has seen the £ signs. Thanks for all of your advice.

 

I have been assured by the letting agents that up until 5th March the deposit was still held with the TDS (this was when the landlady decided for reasons unknown to move it to a DPS scheme)

Showing 1 - 3 of 3 Comments
start a new discussion

Post a reply