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I wonder if you can give me some advice. My daughter is a student…

I wonder if you can...
I wonder if you can give me some advice. My daughter is a student in Edinburgh and rented a flat for 2 years along with 2 other students. In 2010 they decided to leave this flat and move elsewhere. Having followed all the rules, they were surprised when the Agent withheld almost half of their deposit. I believe that this was excessive and contacted the company for an explanation.
Specifically I am complaining because
• I do not believe that the deductions were fair
• The girls had to ask on more than one occasion for an itemised list of the deductions
• All contact made to this company by the girls was ignored – showing their attitude to student tenants I believe.
• the girls were not told (despite specifically requesting this) when the inspection would take place and therefore were not present
• they were given no opportunity to put any deficiencies right themselves (e.g. moving a desk, for which they were charged more than £50 etc).
Can you advise me of my daughter’s rights in these matters and whether we would have a case to take this company to court to retrieve the withheld deposit?
Any information or advice you can give me would be welcome.
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Answered in 3 hours by:
1/11/2011
JGM
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 12,379
Experience: 30 years as a practising solicitor.
Verified
Thank you for your question.

If the deductions are without justification and are excessive then they have the right to take the landlord to the small claim court for recovery of the deposit. The lease should specify what deductions can be made. If the deductions are outwith the provisions of the lease then the landlord is in breach of contract. If the lease provides that the tenant should be given the opportunity to remedy defects provided on a detailed list then the landlord is in breach of contract again. I can't advise you on what chances of success are as I dont know what evidence there is to be heard on each side and I haven't seen the lease, but from what you say there is a statable case to take the landlord to court. The small claim forms required are on the Scottish Courts website library section. Go to www.scotcourts.gov.uk Once the summons is prepared you take it to court with the court fee of £65 and the sheriff clerk will book the case in and give further advice as to serving the action on the landlord and future procedure. The case will call for a hearing and the sheriff will hear the issues and make a decision usually on the day.

I hope this helps. Please press ACCEPT so that I am credited for my time.
JGM
JGM, Solicitor
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Experience: 30 years as a practising solicitor.
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Customer reply replied 7 years ago

Hi again

This was the series of emails between my husband and the company concerned - they don't deal in letters only email apparently! I contacted the letwise team who were less than helpful in their response.

I do have a copy of the lease which I will go through this evening to see if it states anything about what you have mentioned. I am mad that this company seems to see students as an easy target - they are less than civil to them.

Thanks

 

To:[email protected]

Date: Sunday, 24 October, 2010, 22:14

Hi

Can you please send breakdown of costs for the deposit refund for this flat?

Thanks

C Gerrie

 

Sent: 29 October 2010 09:01
To: XXXXX XXXXX
Subject: Fw: 10 Eva Place

Hi
Can you please send the breakdown of costs for this
flat as discussed in our telephone call last week?


Thanks

Colin Gerrie

 

From: XXXXX XXXXXon <http://uk.mc27href=/>
Subject: RE: 10 Eva Place
To: "Marion Gerrie" <http://uk.mc27href=/>
Date: Monday, 1 November, 2010, 9:02

Dear Mr Gerrie

Please find attached the breakdown of costs as
requested.

Regards

XXXXX XXXXXon

 

 

 

Sent: 01 November 2010 10:31
To: XXXXX XXXXX
Subject: RE: 10 Eva Place

Dear Ms Robertson
Re the breakdown of costs for 10 Eva Place, please note the following:

1. The desk which you say had to be removed from the
cupboard and the pictures which had to be rehung -
Cost £57.23 + £10.02 VAT

This desk was in the cupboard when my daughter moved
into the flat in as were the pictures. The pictures
were never hung, the desk was never in a room therefore my daughter cannot be responsible for the payment of
either of these items.
2. Gardening services - £60.90

My daughter and her flatmates ensured that the grass
was cut and that the garden was in a better state than
when they first entered the flat in Therefore we dispute this cost.

3. Cleaning, laundry and replacements - £322.50 + £56.44 VAT

The flat was thoroughly cleaned and inspected by myself
before the girls moved out. It was cleaner than when they
moved into the flat. At most I would expect that there
was 4 hours of cleaning and laundry. Surely these are simply maintenance costs which should fall on either you or the owner of the flat, not the tenants. As for replacements, please inform me what was missing or in need of replacement from the original inventory that does not fall under general maintenance or normal wear and tear.
During the two years that my daughter and her friends
rented this flat, The Flat Company did nothing but collect the rent, therefore any money paid by the owner to you to maintain and manage the property was not used on the property. For you to levy a bill like this I would
expect the place to be filthy and damaged which I know was not the case.

I expect my daughter and her flatmates to have their
full deposit returned to them as a matter of urgency. If
this does not happen and you can give me no satisfactory
explanation of these costs I will be consulting a solicitor as well as informing the University of Edinburgh of your practices and requesting that they remove your company from their accommodation lists.

I look forward to a speedy response.

Yours faithfully

Colin Gerrie.

 

From: XXXXX XXXXXon <http://uk.mc27href=/>
Subject: RE: 10 Eva Place
To: "Marion Gerrie" <http://uk.mc27href=/>
Date: Monday, 1 November, 2010, 11:53

Dear Mr Gerrie

I understand that deductions from a deposit are never
welcome but I have set out replies to each of your
points below and supplied the relevant invoices which I hope will clarify why the deductions were made.

1. The desk was listed in a bedroom on the inventory
and is shown in the photographs we took, but when we came to the check out it was in the cupboard. The pictures were listed as hung so they had to be put back. I've attached a picture of the desk in question for your information.

2. There was a small amount of further gardening
required as per attached invoice.

3. I can assure you that further cleaning was required
as per attached invoice. Inventory items are only
replaced on behalf of tenants at the end of a tenancy once fair wear and tear has been taken in to consideration.

If you require any further information please do not
hesitate to contact me.

Regards

XXXXX XXXXXon

 

 

 

 

 

From: Marion Gerrie [mailto:http://uk.mc27href=/]

Sent: 01 November 2010 17:16
To: XXXXX XXXXX
Subject: RE: 10 Eva Place
Dear Ms Robertson

I have no objections to paying fair deductions from a
deposit, but I do object to paying for things which are unnecessary or indeed fictional.

1. I trust that you are not calling my daughter and her
>flatmates liars when they state that they have NEVER seen the desk in question - are you absolutely sure that it was returned to the room after the new carpets were laid in 2008? I can assure you that I have never seen this desk either. I can also assure you that any pictures that were hung in the flat when my daughter moved in were still hanging when she left. If pictures required re-hanging then they have required re-hanging for two years and should therefore be the previous tenants (or your) responsibility.

2. The garden bill appears to be from the end of September. My daughter's lease ended at the start of September. The garden was cleared, grass cut and hedges trimmed before they relinquished the keys. Any growth during the month between their leaving and this bill appearing is not their responsibility and no work was required when they left.

3. a. If you seriously think that a three bedroom flat
which is already clean takes a further 10 hours to clean
then you really need to check up on your cleaning
contractor. It appears to me that this is a standard
charge applied for students leaving a flat, students
may not normally clean up after themselves, my daughter most certainly did. This flat did not require 10 hours of
cleaning.
b. Carpet, curtain and furniture cover cleaning should come under normal maintenance after a flat has been occupied for two years, what exactly does the owner pay you for?
c. The light bulbs were all in working order when the girls left the flat and there were even spare bulbs left in the cupboard.
d. The Extractor filter should be replaced under normal
wear and tear after 2 years.
e. The kitchen items were never in the flat. The Flat
company installed a new oven when the girls first moved in and NO oven trays were supplied with it. There were more utensils left in the flat than had been there in the first place.
f. There was no rubbish to be removed from the flat. All
rubbish was left in the bins outside to be collected by
Edinburgh City Council. Therefore any rubbish to be removed was produced by your cleaning company and should be charged to them.

I will accept the cost of the window cleaning but I do not see that you have a valid case for deducting any other items from this deposit. I do however believe that these deductions have become standard practice for your company whether or not the work is actually required. You may think it is acceptable pass these costs on to students, I'm afraid I do not agree. I therefore still require the rest of the deposit less £15 + VAT for the window cleaning to be repaid immediately.

I look forward to a rapid conclusion to this.

Yours faithfully

Colin Gerrie

From: XXXXX XXXXXon <http://uk.mc27href=/>
Subject: RE: 10 Eva Place
To: "Marion Gerrie" <http://uk.mc27href=/>
Cc: "Lucy Petrie" <http://uk.mc27href=/>
Date: Monday, href="http://www.justanswer.com/scottish-law/4g8rx-wonder-give-advice-daughter-student.html November, 2010, 12:25
Dear Mrs Gerrie

Thank you for your email.
1. I can confirm that the desk was in the room at the start of the tenancy and was not there at the end. The carpet fitters would have no reason to store the desk in a cupboard.

2. The gardening work was instructed on the href="http://www.justanswer.com/scottish-law/4g8rx-wonder-give-advice-daughter-student.htmlth September. The invoice date does not relate to the date that the work was carried out.

3. a)If you would like to discuss the cleaning with the
company who carried it out please contact Lucy Petrie at
I have copied this email to her.
b) Cleaning is not the landlord's responsibility.
c) Light bulbs were only replaced where necessary.
d) The extractor filter should have been replaced by the
tenants just as they would have replaced the hoover bag.
e) There was a lot of rubbish stored in the hall cupboards which was removed. I have attached a photo for your information.
f) The items we replaced were listed on the inventory that the tenants signed at the start of the tenancy so must have been present when the property was handed over to them.

We provide all of our tenants with information on how to
prepare for the final inspection of the property. You may
also find the following Council website useful: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/1014/private_tenants-advice_and_support

I trust this answers all your queries but if you have any further questions about any other matter please let me know.

Regards

XXXXX XXXXXon


From: Marion Gerrie [mailto:http://uk.mc27href=/]
Sent: 09 November 2010 14:31
To: XXXXX XXXXX
Subject: RE: 10 Eva Place

Dear Ms Robertson

I can assure you that everything I have stated in my original email is true and I refer you to this page of the site you directed me to -

http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/926/landlords-advice_and_support/43href=

in particular:

*there must be a breach of the deposit clause in the tenancy agreement
- no breach has been indicated

*you should provide the tenant with a clear statement of deductions at the end of the tenancy
- This was not done until I specifically asked for it - there was no itemised list sent to my daughter or her flatmates despite the girls asking for this to be provided.

*you should provide copies of receipts for replacement items or tradesmen who repaired damage - none provided for replacement items.

*all deductions must be fair and accurate - I do not believe that this is the case re the light bulbs, missing items, garden, desk and pictures etc

*you may not withhold deposit for normal wear and tear - Cleaning of carpets and curtains

I have no doubt that the cleaning agency will back up everything you say, after all they work for you and presumably want to do so again in the future. However as you did not inform the girls of the date and time when you were inspecting the property and did not in fact inspect it until after they had left, they were not to know that their cleaning did not come up to your standards and cannot be expected to pay to have it cleaned beyond normal expectations.

The gardening work may well have been instructed on the 8th we only have your word for this but that does not mean it was carried out on the 8th. The garden was tidied at the end of the tenancy as per the tenancy agreement.

Cleaning may not be the landlord's responsibility but they do pay your company a fee to ensure the flat is ready for the next tenant.

On their last visit to the property the landlords were effusive in their praise of the girls for keeping the flat so clean and tidy, of which I am sure you are aware as you were apparently there at the time. This does not sound like a flat that requires 10 hours of cleaning to me.

I reiterate that all light bulbs were working when the girls left and spare light bulbs were left in the cupboard.

I also refer you to:

http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/926/landlords-advice_and_support/43href=

Specifically:

Meet your tenant at the property with the agreed inventory and go through the property room by room. - This was not done - no contact was made to allow the girls to attend this final inspection.

Check the items, their cleanliness and condition. Point out to the tenant any missing, broken, damaged and dirty items. - Again this was not done as the girls were not informed.

Tenants should be given a chance to put things right. If they are unable or unwilling to remedy a situation, make it clear that you will be using the deposit to do so. - Yet again this was not done and could not be done as inspection took place after they had left.

The rubbish that you provided the photograph of was in the flat when the girls moved in, they did not remove it as they assumed it belonged to the landlord. I remember commenting when they moved in about the junk that was in the cupboard. Presumably it belonged to the boys who occupied the flat before my daughter and your cleaners missed it all two years ago, perhaps they were not as thorough then? This was probably the same time as the desk was put in the cupboard and the pictures removed from the walls. A picture was balanced on the fireplace in my daughter's bedroom for the two years of her tenancy so I am most certainly NOT paying to have it hung now. The settee was covered with a throw for the entire time the girls were in the flat so any need for cleaning the covers must also have been there before they moved in.

I am well aware that tenants are provided with information on how to prepare for the final inspection of the property, this was why everything was checked before they left to make sure that it was done.

I still require return of the balance of the deposit less the window cleaning costs. If this is not done within 14 days, I'm afraid you will leave me with no option but to take court action to recover the balance of the deposit.

Yours sincerely

Colin Gerrie

 

From: XXXXX XXXXXon <[email protected]>

Subject: RE: 10 Eva Place

To: "Marion Gerrie" <[email protected]> Date: Tuesday, 9 November, 2010, 14:44

 

 

Dear Mrs Gerrie

 

I can assure you that there was a breach in the deposit clause, a 'Statement of dilapidations is sent out when the deposit is refunded, the replacement items were provided by the cleaning company and included in their invoice, all deductions are fair and accurate and, finally, cleaning is not wear and tear.

 

Before you take the case to a court I would advise you to show all of the paperwork relating to the tenancy to the Letwise team who will be able to advise you further.

 

Yours sincerely

 

XXXXX XXXXXon

 

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