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Deposit deductions from surprise inspection

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Newbie
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« on: September 29, 2020, 09:42:02 PM »

I recently moved out of a property and feel the letting agents are trying to unfairly deduct from my deposit. They arranged a checkout inspection 2 days before the end of the tenancy - which I only found out about 4 days later after receiving the report - and are trying to charge for cleaning and removal of items left at the property which was all sorted in those 2 days after inspection before my keys were handed in. They are saying that I had previously implied that the property was vacant so it is my fault that the inspection is incorrect and they have attempted to charge me for another inspection.

It is true that I told them over email that I was no longer living at the property. It was over the phone that I explained that before handing the keys in I would return to the property to properly clean it and remove any possessions/ rubbish so unfortunately they are denying this and I have no way to provide evidence of what was said. I still think that I am in a good position to dispute the checkout inspection though as it took place during the tenancy but I was not given any notice. It was near to the end but still within the tenancy dates, so I believe that they are required as per the tenancy agreement and the 1988 Housing Act to give notice of an inspection occurring? The letting agents are not willing to budge at all, should I approach the deposit protection scheme? Just want to get this sorted as quickly and easily as possible and get my deposit returned.
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2020, 09:57:58 PM »

I would advise they are acting incorrectly.  Make sure you write a very reasonable email explaining your stance.  If they do not budge then I would suggest raising a deposit dispute for all deductions you disagree with.
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2020, 10:23:48 PM »

I sent a very polite email after receiving the report explaining my stance and asking them if I should go through the report and comment on all the things that are incorrect because of the timing of the inspection, or if another inspection was due to be taking place. They replied with their bank details saying I needed to pay them almost 200 for another inspection. There have been many emails back and forth since then and they still will not entertain any reasonable discussion on this.

Am I right in thinking they should have notified me that the inspection was taking place? I think this is the easiest way to dispute the results of the inspection.

I had previously requested an inspection a few days earlier so I could attend it, but was told this wasn't possible. I was left with the impression that the inspection would therefore happen after I handed my keys in, whereas it seems they assumed that the house would be fully empty and clean from the date I had originally requested the inspection on. But I'm thinking the major issue is that they didn't notify me the inspection would take place, so I had no idea that they had assumed that and I didn't know that I should clean and clear out the house for that date.
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2020, 10:34:12 PM »

Definitely a messy one.  Check the terms of your tenancy agreement and see if you can find anything about the checkout procedure.

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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2020, 11:05:33 PM »

"Dear letting agent, the tenant is required to return the property at the end of the tenancy in the condition required by the tenancy agreement / same condition as at the start of the tenancy less wear and tear, you have provided a report on the condition of the property before the end of the tenancy which is meaningless for determining the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy. It has since been X days* since the end of the tenancy, any inspection conducted now would be meaningless given I cannot be certain who have had access since I returned possession and what they may have done to the condition of the property. As such, unless you are able to provide an independent inspection report on the condition of the property at or soon after the time of the end of the property to justify your claims for deduction from the deposit, I require you to return my deposit in full promptly in accordance with the terms of the tenancy agreement. Failing which, I would have no choice but to raise a dispute for its return with the deposit protection scheme with which it is protected in."

* I'm assuming X is more than a few days here
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2020, 11:18:02 PM »

Thanks Inspector, I have checked my tenancy agreement and there is no mention of checkout procedure. I can only assume therefore that checkout inspection would fall under the general rule:

(...) That the Landlord or any person authorised by the Landlord or his Agent may at reasonable times of the day on giving 24 hours' written notice,
(unless in the case of an emergency) enter the Property for the purpose of inspecting its condition and state of repair.

A real mess unfortunately, kicking myself for not taking photos of the property before I handed the keys in. The landlord/ letting agency have been terrible but I never expected this to happen.
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2020, 11:24:13 PM »

Thank you for your reply KTC. It has been around a week or so now, so its all occurred within a fairly short timeframe so far but their attitude leads me to believe they are happy to drag this out indefinitely. I am thinking of sending them an email similar to your template which suggests they arrange another inspection ASAP or else the results of a further inspection may be meaningless due to time elapsed since termination of tenancy. Unfortunately I think the deposit protection company have extended what they consider to be a reasonable timeframe for inspections to occur in due to COVID-19 so that may work in their favour if the decide to get one done further down the line.
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2020, 11:28:54 PM »

If you raise a dispute they cannot drag out the process if the dispute is accepted.
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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2020, 11:44:51 PM »

True, Inspector. I guess I am put off by the time it will take to investigate a dispute, but I suppose that it comes with a guarantee that at the end of it all the letting agents can't stall any longer.
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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2020, 12:54:08 PM »

It is clearly nonsense to do a report when the tenancy has 2 days left,and the tenant has made it clear they will be going in to clean and remove stuff,regardless of whether they notified you in advance.
There seem to be quite a few queries like this of late,examples of landlords and agents trying to make unreasonably deductions.It was said at the time that stopping landlords charging for initial letting fees would end up costing tenants more in the end.
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« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2020, 01:59:51 PM »

...saying I needed to pay them almost 200 for another inspection.

Weren't Check-Out fees also part of the legislation?

Yeah, they were.

Since June this year any terms you may have agreed to in your tenancy (even if it started years ago) aren't even binding. So let them do another Check-Out inspection, but at their own cost.

This all comes down to timelines / delays... whether you can stomach it if it's drawn-out. And that's your call.
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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2020, 02:02:35 PM »

True, Inspector. I guess I am put off by the time it will take to investigate a dispute, but I suppose that it comes with a guarantee that at the end of it all the letting agents can't stall any longer.
Keeping it simple. You have 2000 deposit and the agent or landlord wants to deduct 500 you disagree with.

After negotiating you ask for the 1500 back that is not in dispute.  You then raise a dispute for the 500.

So you get the agreed money straightaway, as long as you request it. The disputed amount can take a few months for the ADR decision but this is money you would have lost anyway.
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« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2020, 03:36:03 PM »

It is clearly nonsense to do a report when the tenancy has 2 days left,and the tenant has made it clear they will be going in to clean and remove stuff,regardless of whether they notified you in advance.

Unfortunately, because it was in a phone conversation that I made it clear I would be cleaning and removing items they are disputing that I ever made them aware of this. Even without written confirmation that I told them this it doesn't seem like they have a leg to stand on. And yet they persist.
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« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2020, 03:37:49 PM »

...saying I needed to pay them almost 200 for another inspection.

Weren't Check-Out fees also part of the legislation?

Yeah, they were.


This is very useful to know, I wasn't aware of this so thank you. I am sure they will argue that they did not charge me for the initial inspection and that I am requesting an additional one so I should pay, but I will put this to them anyway.
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« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2020, 03:39:43 PM »

Keeping it simple. You have 2000 deposit and the agent or landlord wants to deduct 500 you disagree with.

After negotiating you ask for the 1500 back that is not in dispute.  You then raise a dispute for the 500.

So you get the agreed money straightaway, as long as you request it. The disputed amount can take a few months for the ADR decision but this is money you would have lost anyway.

Also very useful information, thank you. I was not aware that the undisputed amount could be released while the dispute is ongoing. This may be the best way to proceed.
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« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2020, 11:05:35 PM »

This is very useful to know, I wasn't aware of this so thank you. I am sure they will argue that they did not charge me for the initial inspection and that I am requesting an additional one so I should pay, but I will put this to them anyway.

Inventory and property condition inspection (especially the end of tenancy one) is generally for the benefit of the landlord. Deposit is legally the tenant's money, and remains tenant's money while it's held as security for potential deductions in accordance with tenancy agreement. Any such deductions would still have to be agreed (or are awarded by a court) between two sides until the money become the landlord. Having the check out inspection provides evidence to the landlord to justify their claim on the deposit. If they don't want to gather what evidence they can to justify their claim, that's up to them, but it's only going to hurt them (unless of course they know the result of a new inspection wouldn't help their case).
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« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2020, 11:20:24 PM »

This is very useful to know, I wasn't aware of this so thank you. I am sure they will argue that they did not charge me for the initial inspection and that I am requesting an additional one so I should pay, but I will put this to them anyway.

Inventory and property condition inspection (especially the end of tenancy one) is generally for the benefit of the landlord. Deposit is legally the tenant's money, and remains tenant's money while it's held as security for potential deductions in accordance with tenancy agreement. Any such deductions would still have to be agreed (or are awarded by a court) between two sides until the money become the landlord. Having the check out inspection provides evidence to the landlord to justify their claim on the deposit. If they don't want to gather what evidence they can to justify their claim, that's up to them, but it's only going to hurt them (unless of course they know the result of a new inspection wouldn't help their case).
Not sure I agree with you there.  I am an inventory clerk and give a 3rd party non-bias report.

Sometimes my reports supports the tenant in stating the condition of the property was very good at checkout and can be used in the tenant's favour to argue their case.  Sometimes my report shows damage that the tenant will be liable.

I don;t believe my reports favour one party over the other.
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« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2020, 12:06:46 AM »

My response says nothing about the professionalism or independence of inventory clerk, or whether such report are meant to favour landlord or tenant.

The tenant don't need any (check out) evidence to argue their case. The deposit is their money, and remains so unless the landlord can provide the evidence to support their claim for deductions. That they (should) use an indepedent clerk means any such report have more weight if it shows damages because you're not bias. However, the lack of such a check out report cannot hurt the tenant.
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« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2020, 12:10:11 AM »

Apologies, misinterpreted your checkouts are "generally for the benefit of the landlord" comment.  Understand your meaning now and agree.
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