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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
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Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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A former tenant is refusing to use the ADR available under

Customer Question

A former tenant is refusing to use the ADR available under my deposit protection scheme (mydeposits.co.uk) after signing the tenancy agreement within which we agreed to first use the ADR available under mydeposits.co.uk if a disagreement was to arise as to the withholding of any of the deposit.

They are now suing me for retaining £717 from a £4050 deposit which I feel is fair as they breached two terms of the agreement: (TERM 1) was that I agreed I would pay a third party cleaner, for the tenants, of 2 man hours (£20) every week for a weekly clean of the property. In the agreement the wording is 'to be used for a weekly clean of the premises' but they used it for their personal ironing 50% of the first 12 months and 40% of the 13th month. Their tenancy ended at the end of the 14th month. I was not aware of them doing this until I spoke to my cleaners (whom I pay in arrears) at the 12 month stage - who are happy to confirm this percentage. I asked the tenants to desist at this stage - but they continued and emailed me to say that the cleaning should continue including ironing as before. They ignored me when I said this wasn't what the term/cleaning was to be used for. We had also verbally agreed that as I was extending their agreement out of goodwill (I allowed them to get to the end of the full 12 months of the agreement without knowing if they were going to give notice or not, so as they could find out whether their son got into the school they had applied for) until 12 months had passed and that if they wanted to then give me 2 months notice OR start a new tenancy, that the cleaners who were not to be used for ironing, would not be part of the new agreement. I agreed this - at their suggestion - while agreeing also to keep the rent the same (£2925 pcm) for those two extra months OR a new tenancy should the want that.

They gave me notice at the 12 month point (rather than the 10 month point, as explained, as I said I would wait for them to find out about their son's school) but they then, as it wasn't written down presumably, insisted that not only the rent for these final two months stay the same, but that the cleaner was still to come to the premises. I said I was forced into this, as these 2 months were effectively notice and I couldn't do anything else ie evict them or say no, as they would have had to leave immediately. Also, I wrote to tell them that was against what they agreed verbally AND that the cleaners were NOT to be used for ironing but they ignored me.

I therefore withheld the 50% of the £20 per week x 52 weeks and 40% of the next 5 weeks, as advised by my cleaner as to what she was asked to do.

They have threatened to sue my cleaner too.

TERM 2 - it is written in the agreement that once every 12 months the tenants are to clean the chimney - but they haven't, so an additional £85 is withheld by me. They claim no receipts were given to them from when it was cleaned before, and that they cleaned it anyhow. I have said that the contract doesn't not state I have to give them receipts but that they do have to prove they cleaned the chimney, which as it requires professional brushes, presumably would mean a professional job, not just be part of a professional cleaning company who did the end of the tenancy clean?

Should I bother fighting this in court, would I win?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Hi

Thank you for your question and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

In order to give you an answer tailored to your circumstances, I will just need to ask you some preliminary questions so that I can consider your position from all angles.

What type of contract is it?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi there Jo


Thanks for help - I feel really bullied by them!


It was an AST originally for 12 months, but I allowed them to give notice at the end of 12 months, rather than the 10 months, good will only.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the information

Have I got this right? Essentially you are trying to deduct over £700 because they used your cleaner for other things and didnt clean the chimney?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi


I paid for a cleaner for them for 14 months at the rate of £20 a week, for what I thought was a mutually beneficial thing: they got a clean home and I made sure my property was looked after. It was part of the agreement but they instead used the cleaner for ironing for at least 50% of the time, so yes, I want 50% of the money I paid the cleaners to be given back to me from their deposit.
52 x £20 = £1040 / 2 = £520


5 weeks x £20 of which 40% they used the cleaners for ironing = £40 = £560 then £85 for the chimney to be swept, which I have now had to do which was £85 = £645. You're right I have my sums wrong there, I will immediately refund the extra £72.


 


But what of the rest? Are they allowed to ignore the contract we signed in which we agreed to use the ADR of the deposit protection scheme before court?


 


Should I not bother agreeing to go to court and just pay them? As it was part of our signed agreement and they've breached it and I have paid the cleaners, duly, for cleaning the premises not to do their domestic ironing, I am seeking my money back for their ironing?


 


Your answer thus far seems to suggest perhaps I shouldn't ?


 


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the information.

I am sorry but I cannot be confident that you will succeed. A court is not going to like the fact that you made them responsibe for cleaning the chimney anyway. That type of thing so for the landlord.

Asking the cleaners to do the ironing does not entitle you to compensation either. If that was inappropriate use of the cleaners then they should have refused unfortunately.

I am sorry this cannot be more positive but thats your position I'm afraid.

Probably the reason the tenant is refusing is that they are confident they will win at court.

I would make arrangements to settle I'm afraid. Ultimately it is open to you to contest this but I would brace yourself for a loss at court.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi there - I just send a bit more info/queries to you - ie I don't understand why a court would be looking to condone tenants who signed up for one thing, but disregarded it at the end of the tenancy ? Does the signed agreement not stand for anything?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Sorry for the delay

I think the problem will be that its something for which the tenant should never have been made responsible for anyway.

The problem with this is that courts can strike down agreements that offend against UCTA and also can make people pay costs for bring vexatious actions.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

FOR JOMO1972


Ok if that's true re the cleaning of the chimney, then that's that, thanks for the advice - but what about the cleaning and getting 50% of the value back? Or would this be something I took them to court for, rather than deducted from their deposit? I can't imagine how a court would condone tenants, who made me take out certain mandatory clauses for their convenience, ie had legal advice before signing, just ignoring things. So, would just sticking on the issue of the ironing / cleaning be successful for me? It is £560 which I paid for, for them, to keep the house clean (which is what the usual wrangle with tenants is, hence why I added it at my own cost, which I feel was abused?)
Thanks


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

As I've said really, she should have refused.

If she did not then any claim you do have is against her rather than them and its not the best to be wholly honest.

I am very sorry
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi - Sorry, I appreciate it seems just like you have given me an answer I didn't want, but actually I am dissatisfied as I am still confused because you haven't given me a properly detailed answer, as request - I just don't have enough information here to fully understand - ultimately for the price I was expecting quotes of case law / statutes to back up what you're saying and furnish me with a proper answer so I could prepare and/or seek further advice. I feel you dismissed what I wrote ( by you 'so you want to claim over 700 quid...' etc.. answer) without perhaps fully understanding, or helping me to understand, hence the 'poor service' rating - for £47 I would at least have liked to understand more about why your professional opinion was that I wouldn't win rather than just I wouldn't?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
I would normally be happy to continue and offer further information but you have left a negative rating so that won't be possible.

All the best.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

well I did give you the chance before I rated you - then I got an email saying you wanted to know more as I'd rated you with a low rating, so it is your turn ! I think you are not based in the UK, are you?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
I am UK based but I won't be continuing.

Opting out
Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.
Your expert has opted out.
The answer you have had is accurate and complete and I can think of nothing to add.

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PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice