A quick legal query...

vernon

Harder than Ronnie Pickering
Location
Meanwood, Leeds
We have just received a letter from the solicitors of my student son's ex landlord threatening us with legal action for an unpaid £25 cleaning fee allegedly incurred when making the accommodation fit for use for the next tenant.

My wife contends that the flat was in good order - she's a Virgo and if she says it was tidy and presentable I have no reason to disbelieve her.

A previous threatening letter offered to present us with the evidence if we supplied a blank CD ROM and they'd then supply digital images. We didn't respond to that letter.

I have my doubts that a £25 debt would be processed by any court and that the letter is bluster.

What do you think?
 

Gary E

Veteran
Location
Hampshire
Was there no handover with the landlord? Surely that was his opportunity to look the place over and point out any problems?

Can he not email you the digital images? You never know it may be something your wife missed (no offence) but at least when you know what it is he's talking about you can decide if it's worth arguing?
 
OP
vernon

vernon

Harder than Ronnie Pickering
Location
Meanwood, Leeds
Was there no handover with the landlord? Surely that was his opportunity to look the place over and point out any problems?

Can he not email you the digital images? You never know it may be something your wife missed (no offence) but at least when you know what it is he's talking about you can decide if it's worth arguing?
Believe me my wife misses nothing. After I have cleaned the kitchen it's amazing what she can 'harvest' afterwards.

My son has already been cheated out of his deposit and I am not blindly defending him. I can't believe the efforts taken to collect twenty five pounds - I am sure that there's a degree of collusion between the landlord, letting agent and solicitors.
 

Gary E

Veteran
Location
Hampshire
Believe me my wife misses nothing. After I have cleaned the kitchen it's amazing what she can 'harvest' afterwards.

My son has already been cheated out of his deposit and I am not blindly defending him. I can't believe the efforts taken to collect twenty five pounds - I am sure that there's a degree of collusion between the landlord, letting agent and solicitors.
Sorry Vernon, didn't mean to imply anything.
As I've said, surely his time to bring this sort of thing to your attention was at the hand-over?
If he's already kept the deposit then I'd say he's had his pound of flesh and is just being greedy and chancing his luck.
As ComedyPilot says, I think he's unlikely to push things for £25. Maybe you should threaten to contest his decision to keep the deposit and see if he still has the appetite to take you on?
 

Rohloff_Brompton_Rider

Formerly just_fixed
Just be careful, unscrupulous landlords or agencies know what they're doing. It might only be £25 now but with admin costs on top it soon builds up. In effect it's a back handed way of getting £50 an hour for admin. They are allowed to add this to courts costs which you could end up paying for.

In my opinion, ignore letters until they get to the legal threatening stage, then just suck it up. Is it worth the risk for £25?
 

aoj

Well-Known Member
Believe me my wife misses nothing. After I have cleaned the kitchen it's amazing what she can 'harvest' afterwards.

My son has already been cheated out of his deposit and I am not blindly defending him. I can't believe the efforts taken to collect twenty five pounds - I am sure that there's a degree of collusion between the landlord, letting agent and solicitors.
This an all too common scam with landlords. Both my daughters had issues like this with various landlords through out their time a uni. The first being the university student accommodation service attempting to charge against the deposit for non existent damage. Fortunately my daughter and her flatmates were law students and soon had that one sorted out! One agency charged for a cleaning bill even after we had cleaned the place. The place was a bit of a dive before. I wish I'd taken pictures of the condition when they moved in to contest that one.
My other daughter had difficulty getting her deposit back on a flat until we threatened legal action, especially after the first cheque he sent bounced! it was for £300.

On the other side of the coin, my now son in law shared a flat with some lads. It was left for them to move into in a state with no attempt of the landlord to clean it up. They were complete pigs while there themselves I believe, things like testing pasta by throwing it to stick on the wall. When they left, a years worth of pasta tests were still on the wall! they lost their deposit as probably the previous tenants did and I bet the landlord didn't give them back theirs either or clean it for the next lot.

Talk to citizens advice they will advise you what to do.
 

redcard

Veteran
Location
Paisley
Just be careful, unscrupulous landlords or agencies know what they're doing. It might only be £25 now but with admin costs on top it soon builds up. In effect it's a back handed way of getting £50 an hour for admin. They are allowed to add this to courts costs which you could end up paying for.

In my opinion, ignore letters until they get to the legal threatening stage, then just suck it up. Is it worth the risk for £25?
You give letting agents and landlords way too much credit.

They only get away with unscrupulous behaviour because people pay up.

Based on the information provided this is going nowhere near a court.
 
Bottom line
- these sorts of things should have been identified, confirmed, and agreed at the final handover;
- and would normally be deducted from the deposit - the balance of which should be returned.

My son's just got caught similarly - and is using this (http://www.mydeposits.co.uk/tenants/get-started/register-a-dispute) to get the problem sorted and the balance of his deposit back.

There's three such schemes - each with their own dispute arbitration scheme; landlords must by law be using one of the three ............ eeek, probably teaching you to suck eggs. Sorry, but then I didn't know about it until a few weeks ago ----- even with kids renting at university over the last 6 years.
 

Rohloff_Brompton_Rider

Formerly just_fixed
You give letting agents and landlords way too much credit.

They only get away with unscrupulous behaviour because people pay up.

Based on the information provided this is going nowhere near a court.
I did say ignore the letters, until they get to the threatening stage. I used to do a lot of work for letting agents and landlords, you'd be surprised at just how good they are at this sort of thing.
 

ASC1951

Guru
Location
Yorkshire
We have just received a letter from the solicitors of my student son's ex landlord threatening us with legal action for an unpaid £25 cleaning fee allegedly incurred when making the accommodation fit for use for the next tenant.
Tell them to whistle. Routine cleaning is 'fair wear and tear' and is a cost to be borne by the landlord. [Not so with cleaning caused by negligence e.g. paint fights, pasta hurling ...Not so, either, if the tenant has specifically agreed to it in the tenancy agreement.]
 

Milo

Guru
Location
Melksham, Wilts
Had this tried on me. Though not with a solicitors letter What worked for me was telling her not to be a cheeky cow. And lieing about having a barrister in the family who would strike you down yada yada. She backed down but was clearly just having a go at trying her luck.
 
I would write back rejecting the charge and saying if they wish to contest it, not to expend further cost on writing to you but to move straight to a filing a claim in the Small Claims Court. That usually stops such attempts as they cannot claim their costs in the Small Claims Court so they will have a lot of effort for at best £25 if they win.

Edit: P.S. Only use this in genuine cases because if the Court finds that you are using it to evade paying what you know you owe, they can award costs against you for wasting the Court's time. But that will not happen for any genuine dispute.
 

Oldspice

Senior Member
Doesn't it all depend on what the contract states. If the contract does say that there is a cleaning fee and it was signed by you or your child, then pay it.
 
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