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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 20068
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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Hi, My tenancy agreement came to an end and it was stated

Resolved Question:

Hi,
My tenancy agreement came to an end and it was stated in the contract that the flat would have to be cleaned to a 'professional standard' as part of the check out process.
I asked the state agency and they specified that 'professional standard' means that it WILL HAVE to be done by a cleaning company and they suggested a one that they regularly use because if there was any extra cleaning requirements they would come back to do it, to comply with the 'professional standard' clause.

So I went with this company, the state agents provided the keys and they went in to clean, however during cleaning the state agents got a call from the flat below saying that water was coming down their ceiling. She went to check and discovered that the water leak was caused by damage to the shower plug caused by the cleaner.
In her email she says: "it became apparent that the cleaner whilst cleaning the shower, had forcibly removed the shower plug due to a substantial amount of hair clogging the plug to clean it.
This inadvertently caused the pipe work attached to the shower plug to come apart/falling into the void under the shower tray. (Causing the leak)."

She also says:"We have received one quote to repair this and will organise a further quote next week.
However as the works were instructed by you, we would look to make a claim against your deposit.
You in turn would need to contact the cleaning company to put forward your claim to them."

I had a couple of conversations with the cleaners and the agency. Although I said that the shower was used and CLEANED during my tenancy with no problems the cleaners deny that they did anything forcibly and don't want to cover the costs of the repairs however they are willing to cover SOME of the cost to preserve their working relationship with the estate Agency but don't accept liability.

Although they both agree that I have follow my contract to the last clause and the shower was in perfect working order, the state agents say they will claim against my deposit which I think it is really unfair and the cleaner says that the shower's pipe work was in a bad condition and the Landlord's insurance should cover the costs.

My question is: My invoice for the cleaning services is due today(after 7 days), but I'm thinking of withholding the payment until the cleaner's position is clearer and the repairement work has been paid. However as I suspect that I will have to claim against the cleaning company I was thinking that not paying this invoice could play against me.

Would you be able to help me? Is it better to pay the invoice with a view to then claim or is it better to withold the payment until the situation is resolved?

Regards,

Fermin.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question here on Just answer. It is my pleasure to try and assist you with this today. Please bear with me if I need to ask for any further information from you in order for me to be able to advise you fully. My name isXXXXX and I am a practising solicitor. I have been an expert on this website in UK law since 2008. During that time, as you appreciate, I have answered thousands of questions from satisfied users on a variety of subjects.

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Are you intending to claim against the cleaner then?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Well, I don't know exactly what to do, should I claim against the cleaner? or should I claim against the Agency for taking my deposit? they say they are doing it because the cleaning work was instructed by me.


 


So I don't really know but the most pressing detail right now is the payment (or not) of the invoice for the cleaning services as it is due today and I'm worried that missing the payment or witholding it might hurt my chances of getting my money back IF I was to claim against the cleaners.


 


I would need a quick answer, as I said the invoice is due today.


 


Regards,


 


Fermin.

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.


You can always pay the bill they ask for and pay it under duress,
and then dispute with the deposit scheme and if necessary, take it up with the
cleaning company that you instructed.

If you feel that the extra cost was completely unjustified, pay
it and then sue the landlord for the extra cost which you do not feel justified

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry, what does 'pay it under duress' mean?


 


If you feel that the extra cost was completely unjustified, pay
it and then sue the landlord for the extra cost which you do not feel justified




So do you suggest suing the Landlord instead of the cleaning company?

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.


To pay under Duress means to pay under pressure.

It means that you have paid it just get rid of the matter without
necessarily agreeing that you owe it. It gives you the option of then suing to
get some of the money back.



People very often do that and pay a bill that they do not agree to
so that it does not affect their credit rating and then they sue the creditor
to get the money back.



There are two potential issues and two potential defendants with
regard to the cleaning and without looking at the property it is impossible for
me to say which is the correct route.



If the cleaning is inadequate for what you paid, you sue the
cleaning company.



It may be that you got £100 worth but that was not enough to do
what was needed. Just because you paid £100 does not necessarily mean that was
sufficient. I obviously cannot comment on the competence of the cleaners



If the cleaning is inadequate for the purposes of the landlord,
then you have to pay the landlord.



It comes down therefore as to whether the cleaning was indeed
inadequate for the purposes of the landlord or the landlord is looking at
making £300 for doing nothing.



Remember that the agent is alleging damage caused by the cleaners.
The cleaners will of course say that they didn't force anything because they
are not going to say "oh yes we gave it a good yank and it came away in our hands".
I also cannot imagine that the flat downstairs will imagine the water or would
make it up. It is easy enough to ask them.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your reply.


 


The level of the cleaning is not in question but the damage cause by the cleaners.


The damage is real and it was assessed that it was caused by the damage in the shower. The invoice for the cleaning services is £240 and the first quote for repairs is around £1,500.


 


I'm not sure where you arrive to the £300 you mention on your example.


 


In summary, to my original question, paying the invoice in duress will make sure that my credit rating is not affected and I could claim it back in the future.


Would you let me know how exactly a 'pay in duress' is made?


 


 

Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.


I'm sorry, I was thinking of another question with regard to the
amount because looking back up the long thread, I can see there is no mention
of an amount. I have another question which I have been dealing with on
virtually similar circumstances and I was thinking of those amounts of money.

£1500 is obviously a substantial amount of money and therefore it
comes down to whether that is reasonable bearing in mind the damage.



I have not seen the damage although I accept, as you do, that it
is real.



It appears that it is not just the damage to the shower but the
damage caused by the water leaking from the shower.



Assuming that the amount of money is correct, then you are
responsible for it in that the cleaners were your agents acting on your
instructions and the cleaners are responsible to you.



If you accept the damage is real and you accept that the cost is
reasonable, I really cannot see how you can get out of paying it but you will be able to claim against the cleaning co.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Law,


 


Thanks for your last reply.


 


Only this remains unanswered:


 


Would you let me know how exactly a 'pay in duress' is made?



Will this be in the form of a letter,email attachment, would you be able to provide the wording needed?




Expert:  Stuart J replied 1 year ago.


Send a cheque for the money with a covering letter.

Head the letter "without prejudice save as to costs"



say that you are offering this money in full and final settlement
of any claims against you in on the strict understanding that you do not accept
that you are in any way liable for this damage at all because the damage was
caused by the cleaning contractors and not you, and that you are paying under
duress/pressure/mistake.



 



If you do that, it leaves the door open, if needed, to sue them to
get the money back



one final point that I would make is that it would appear that the
water outlet was not secure because unless the cleaners were really ham-fisted
butchers, these do not normally come apart. You could therefore allege that the
landlord was partly to blame for this

Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 20068
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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