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Landlord not returning overpaid rent

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« on: December 08, 2020, 11:10:48 AM »

Dear all,

My landlord won't repay me overpaid rent that I mistakenly made due to standing order not being cancelled. He is holding the money and using it to cover damages.

I have recently ended a 12 month tenancy, 3 months in, after my landlord agreed to allow early termination of the agreement, providing I pay the agency fee to find a new tenant. I have already lived in the property for a year and thought I was signing to continue as a periodic tenancy which I could terminate with 4 weeks notice ( yes I know, my mistake, I had many things going on at the time and made a mistake ). The landlord agreed to allow me to terminate, and was not pleased that I had asked to terminate, and reminded me that only as he has kindly agreed, that I am allowed to leave. He offered to allow me to move someone into a 2 bedroom flat to help with childcare and rental costs, and said I adamantly refused. I don't know anyone to move in, and won't have a stranger living with my toddler and I. I am a single mother, with a 22 month old and live an hour away from any friends and family, so lack of childcare during the pandemic, my freelance work being much less available from September, and the fear of second wave made me decide it's best if I'm close to family, in case I am affected by COVID.

A new tenant was found, and I was notified by the agency of this. The agency liaised with me to ask my leaving date, to finalise check out and check in dates.

The landlord contacted me close to the date to ask to meet at the property to do a final check out before I leave. I agreed to a meet him on the day I was handing the keys to the agency. He told me he would be conducting a check out inventory. I was not aware of a checkout being done by the landlord being normal practice or not. The landlord then said he can arrange an independent inventory, but I will have to pay for this. I agreed for this to get an unbiased review.

He arranged this with the same company who completed the inventory at check in after informing me of the fee which he also said he had kindly negotiated for me.

The inventory report showed some wear excess to fair wear and tear. These are listed below:

- stains to walls/paintwork (LL wants to charge 100 for paint only, he has kindly agreed, rather than fill cost of painting job)
- dents and scratches on laminate floor - most likely occurring during move out of furniture, as I don't recall doing such damages (irreparable; LL wants to charge 350 as contribution towards damage)
- a blister on the lacquer on one kitchen cabinet door (LL wants to charge for repair 348)
- a small scratch on a window, which is difficult to see in the inventory photo (LL wants to charge 100) a
- a small damage area to a blind where a window blind touched the key in window lock during a heatwave ( LL wants to charge  45)

Landlord is also charging me 660 agency fee, and 150 inventory fee. All of these charges, he has detailed in lengthy emails, that he has kindly negotiated in my favour.

I unfortunately paid him 1100 in rent after I left, by standing order that didn't cancel on error.

The total charges he is claiming from me as above, total to 1753. The deposit I have in TDS is 1269. The overpaid rent he has included into the figures he has for the charges and the deposit.

He says he owes me 616. He refuses to separate the overpaid rent, and pay that separately. He did agree to pay the money for overpaid rent the day before he sent me an email claiming the charges. Then the next day sent me all the charges combining the overpaid rent into the account with the all the charges and deposit.

He is telling me to agree to the deductions, and just take the 616, or negotiate with him now and settle a fee. I have not got an idea of repair costs of all the charges he has made from quotes he has acquired, and for me to get quotes is difficult now as he has a new tenant in the property, and I cannot get accurate quotes with inventory photos and my description in words.

The Landlord claims, that if I wish to dispute anything later with the TDS then I can, after I have settled an amount with him and cleared our accounts. Is this true?

Please can some help me to understand if I have any rights in the above scenario. I am feeling intimidated. This is how seems to work in our conversations, I feel. He tells me what he expects and that it is the proper way to do things, and says it is in my best interest to comply.

P.S. Landlord has also not confirmed that a new tenant has moved in despite me asking on emails, and he also has not issued a surrender of tenancy. He is not mentioning these things at all. He is only detailing our couple of conversations leading up to re-let, and termination and his charges and deductions in lengthy emails.

PLEASE ADVISE AS I'M CURRENTLY AT A LOSS 😳🥺😥


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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2020, 02:52:42 PM »

On the face of it it seems like your ex-Landlord has been flexible in allowing you to end a fixed term tenancy early. You seem aggrieved that there are unexpected [high] costs. You may be new to the private rental sector, but it is common practice for a Landlord to perform a Check-Out and advise a Tenant of Deposit deductions. The pandemic and various Lockdowns and Tiers has made this part hard for all of us. What I would usually do is send a draft Check-Out document a month before, detailing what I expect to see... then the outgoing Tenant has the choice whether to put in effort / expense to remedying things that they know will give rise to deductions. That, too, is difficult in these times. So, do the costs you mention seem over-the-top... possibly... possibly a little... it's hard to assess without more information, but part of this agreement means it is your responsibility to go around checking and making things good - so you don't get caught-out with things being beyond fair wear-and-tear... I suspect with a 2 year old kid this is nigh on impossible for you.

So part of me is tempted to suggest you swallow this and move on. However... on the non-cancelled Standing Order front - obviously this is your mistake... and there's no automatic refund situation banks provide as far as I know... I've had this happen to me from the other side before and once I noticed I informed the Tenant, they were shocked and I sent it back over immediately and obtained confirmation it had been received. I wouldn't dream of using it for something else.

And, then, on the Deposit front... why not open a dispute with the scheme it was protected with? You probably feel like you're on the losing-end right now and the Landlord has decided to take your Deposit and then some - so it feels like you cannot really lose much, in practice.

I would advise your Landlord that you'd like to open a dispute with the deposit scheme. You don't need to agree anything beforehand. Make sure you have all the details you need. Then what I would do is this - don't just log into the deposit scheme's website and open a dispute... blatantly tell the Landlord that this is what you're about to do... the onus of proof and admin. burden is on the Landlord in the main here... so it may persuade him he doesn't want to go through that process and may offer to reduce some of the deductions to a level you're happy with. However, it should be noted that there is a third-party Check-Out performed here... so he has some good backup... however, what faults there are don't necessarily relate to the costs attributed to those faults.

The 1,269 you have with the scheme has damages beyond wear-and-tear totaling 943 from your list. Dispute those and get someone - an objective third party - to adjudicate.

On the other charges... 660 plus 150 then I assume you previously agreed to these in return for being allowed to end the tenancy early, so there's no mileage there.
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2020, 05:50:40 PM »

I have had tenants forget to cancel their standing order,and immediately like  Hippogriff,I returned the money.This makes me think your landlord has greedily decided to milk this for all it's worth.It is a shame really that you requested another person for the check-out report. It does give some support to the landlord's claims. Maybe I am too soft on tenants,but some of those things,the paint blister,the blind,the scratch on glass,I would call par for the course.You do not have to wait to open a dispute,you should do this at once,and point out to the landlord that your overpayment of rent is a separate matter,that requires immediate refund.
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2020, 10:37:07 PM »

Hi Hippogriff,

Thanks for your reply. Yes, on the face of it, he has been fair by agreeing to all these things.

In my opinion he should have paid the overpaid rent straight away, rather than use it to offset other charges. Charges that I have never said I will not pay. He has had me as a tenant for 15 months with no late payments, no withholding rent when I actually could have in the pandemic rules, and plenty of people have told me what I can do in the new pandemic tenancy rules. He could have said to me ok, why don't you pay 2 or even 3 months rent and call it a day, as he is bound to find a tenant in that time ( the property is on the border of South London and adjacent to a British rail station and did let within 2 viewings ). Instead, he reminded of the fact that I was bound by contract by email and in person a number of times, and that he was allowing me to leave. He asked me to assure him in person and via email that I will fulfill rental payments until a new tenant is found, I said I will endeavour to do so. He told me he will select a suitable tenant, as not everyone is a suitable tenant and that I myself was selected as a tenant against others.

I am aggrieved by his underhanded way of not returning the overpaid rent by saying the lady he sees regularly to do transfers at the bank is not in every day due to COVID do it may take a few days, I stupidly believed him and said that is ok. The next day he sent me an email with his statement of account and deductions which he has listed along with overpaid rent. In good faith, I have agreed to this, and allowed all the steps of re-let be done the way the landlord wanted. The main thing he did was "allow" me to leave, and was condescending about it each time he mentioned this.

He has not notified me of the new tenant moving in, or given me the surrender of tenancy, despite me asking him a few times.

I would like to know how to separate the amount of overpaid rent, and then deal with the deposit and charges. I think he is withholding money that is not rightfully his. What is my legal standpoint in this do you happen to know?


Thank you for your sensible and honest advice. It has helped. 👍🏽
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2020, 10:46:44 PM »

Yes Hippogriff, I have previously agreed to pay the agency tenant find fee, and I am told in a clause of my contract that I need to cover this.

I also agreed in person to cover the 150 inventory fee. In hindsight I should have arranged the inventory myself as it was being paid for by me, I now feel he is underhand with things and may have played a part in picturing and grading/assessing some of the damages. I can't be certain.

The LL has told me he won't pay me the overpaid rent as he has already paid charges that I am owing him, the tenant find fee and inventory (660 and 150), so actually he is owed money from me.

I am thinking whether to ask him to pay my overpaid rent minus the the 660 and 150 and then say I wish to take some further quotes for the damages before finalising those charges.

Then I will get some quotes and say I will open a dispute. Say it at first like you said, and not execute until later.
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2020, 11:01:06 PM »

I have had tenants forget to cancel their standing order,and immediately like  Hippogriff,I returned the money.This makes me think your landlord has greedily decided to milk this for all it's worth.It is a shame really that you requested another person for the check-out report. It does give some support to the landlord's claims. Maybe I am too soft on tenants,but some of those things,the paint blister,the blind,the scratch on glass,I would call par for the course.You do not have to wait to open a dispute,you should do this at once,and point out to the landlord that your overpayment of rent is a separate matter,that requires immediate refund.

I am not understanding, when you say I do not have to wait to do a dispute. Do I not have to get my own quotes for the damages and negotiate with him first, and then go for a dispute? If not then yes I will notify him of dispute and go ahead if he doesn't pay the overpaid rent.

Also, if entering a dispute with the TDS, are there any charges that I may be charged at any point of the dispute or if a decision is made in the Landlord's favour? I am under the impression it is all free.

I think in the small claims court (which I may go forward with for the overpaid rent) I will have to pay for filing the case, and then the LL costs of time, admin and court fees  if a decision is made in the Landlord's favour...am I correct in thinking this also?
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2020, 08:50:49 AM »

How can you get quotes for the work if you have no access to the property? The schemes cater for this. Most disputes are raised after the Tenant has departed, obviously.

Advise your Landlord, pleasantly, that you're going to formally commence a Deposit dispute with the Scheme. Tell your Landlord you've taken advice (that's us, so a stretch) and you have been advised the charges are high and it is worth getting a third-party to objectively assess - as it costs you nothing to do so, but the Landlord will be required to provide plenty of their own evidence to support their deductions. Hint that if an agreeable position could be reached between you before that then you'd prefer that (add "especially just before Christmas") Then give them time to reply.

It may be that they dig their heels in. It may be that they are not fazed by the prospect. It may be that they relent a little, for an easy life, and present you with an option you can live with.

Whatever happens on that aspect I don't see you have anything to lose.

On the accidentally overpaid rent... we don't need to discuss it any further, the position is clear. You also need to manage your own position better though. Being so scatterbrained has gotten you into an unnecessary pickle. A trying lesson. Time to commence adulting with gusto.
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2020, 10:50:38 AM »

Ok thank you Hippogriff. That is useful advice about the opening of the dispute and that they will require further clarification from him before the independent opinion is given.

Yes, it is proving difficult to get quotes with just inventory pictures which are not so clear. I am attempting at the moment, but if the deposit schemes cater for this then I will go ahead with politely informing my landlord of my intention to open a dispute, and hint that if he can make a reduction on any charges, then we can easily and preferably settle the matter without dispute resolution before Christmas.

Also, you are absolutely correct. I do need to become less scatterbrained, as that has lead me to not cancel the standing order, and made a sticky situation far stickier.
Adulting with gusto is required yes. ( this comment did make me lol, but with realisation)

Thank you for reminding me...really.

It has been a bit full on in my brain, with moving and managing a 22 month old following marital separation, and life tasks have fallen by the wayside. I state these as facts, as that's what they are. I will now pick myself up and get organised.

Thank you again. God bless.
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2020, 05:46:34 AM »

In coronavirus your landlord is bleeding lucky.
I would be broadly considering the following..
Try get the money back for your bank if it is their error
Issue a money claim online against he landlord and agent for return of the overpaid rent
Put in a dispute with the deposit service
Put the landlord and agent to proof that you agreed what you said you agreed and then if proven suggest it was done under duress - at the very least because it was -- coronavirus and he should have been extremely sympathetic and grateful you were not one of the poor buggers that has lost their job / business etc and you were in his pad for a year and half without paying rent and then just walked...he is a  greasy money grabber and you need to play tough - it is the only language they understand because most landlords think they are some kind of superior being to tenants and many will screw over a good tenant for a few extra quid and justify it with exactly the same sort of logic i am asking you to consider employing to counter them.   
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2020, 07:40:03 AM »

How would it be an error of the Bank? It's not a game of Monopoly...

You sound hurt, by some recent experience? Or have you just consumed a bit too much Baileys last night?
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