A blog clinic question today from Janet who is concerned about claims for charges:
I vacated my rented property on 16/04/2011, today 6/7/2011 I received a letter along with a bill from the previous letting agents for so called damage/cleaning and general “housework” costs that they claim they had to undertake when I vacated the property.
The total cost amounts to just over £750.00 and lists various works which they claim had to be undertaken.
Some examples are as follows…..
- Cleaning the property £125.00 (I cleaned the property before I left)
- Changing a light bulb £20.00
- Rehanging a pair of curtains £50.00
- Cleaning of above curtains £50.00 (I had told the letting agent that I did not wish to use them when I moved in, they advised me to store in cupboard, therefore curtains are in exact same state as when in moved in as they where not used by me)
- Filling tiny hole in wall from where a picture was hung £80.00
- Small chip to kitchen work top, claim worktop needs completely replacing (cost has yet to be confirmed by them)….is this not wear and tear?
The list goes on….My question is firstly does a Landlord/letting agent have to notify you of any claims for damages/cleaning e.t.c within a set period of time after the date that you leave the property. I left nearly 2.5 months ago.
Secondly can I ask for proof, i.e invoices to prove that all this work.cleaning e.t.c has infact been carried out and that the prices quoted to me are genuine as most do seem totally unreasonable.
If I can request this information how long does the Letting agent have to provide me with the official and correct documentation and do I have a right to dispute all these claims.
Janet you don’t mention any deposit but if you have been out of the property for over two months I assume that if you had a deposit, it has been returned to you. Which is odd if these are genuine complaints.
The legal time limit for claims such as this is six years, so two months is allowable. However you are right in asking whether the agents need to provide proof. If they were to claim these charges sucessfully at court they would need to prove to the Judge, on the balance of probabity, that the charges were:
- reasonable ones to charge you and
- that the actual sums charged are reasonable
A landlord (or the agent on his behalf) can only make a claim from an outgoing tenant if they are able to prove that the property was in a significantly worse condition at the end of the tenancy than it was at the start, fair wear and tear excepted. They cannot prove this without an inventory taken and verified (preferably by you) at the time you first went into the property.
So if they cannot prove that you are responsbile for the damage then they cannot claim anything at all.
Then, even if they are able to prove that there is damage and that you are responsible for it, they will need to prove that the sum they are claiming is reasonable. To do this they will need to provide the Judge with receipts and/or invoices for the work done. They cannot just pluck a figure out of the air.
I suggest that you write to them and say that you deny that you are responsble for these charges and request sight of all paperwork, such as receipts, invoices and the like, to prove the charges claimed. In the meantime don’t make any payment.