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How we were scammed by the property agent and landlord as foreigners - lessons learned and warm reminders the other tenants (reading time: 3 - 5 mins)


mnm

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My husband moved to England more than one year ago because of work relocation and I followed him moving to England a few months later. My husband signed the tenancy agreement. Two days before the end of the tenancy, we cleaned the flat (including the balcony) thoroughly with reasonable care.

Two days after the tenancy ended, the problem emerged. My husband was informed by the landlord that they hired a professional cleaning company to clean the flat and asked us to pay for it. The cleaning cost is 300 pounds. It is absurd that my husband was required to pay for the fee based on the following reasons:

1. We already exercised reasonable care to clean the whole flat, the landlord sent us pictures for they found one hair and some washing powder left on the corner of the washing machine which they claimed it “dirty”, and yet no one could confirm whose hair does it belong to that unless we did some DNA test to it.

2. We checked cleaning companies online for cleaning the flat, the market price for cleaning a one-bedroom flat is 120 pounds on average. It is not reasonable to pay 300 pounds (which is more than double) for cleaning.

Reference: https://www.fantasticcleanersbristol.co.uk/end-of-tenancy-cleaning/

 

3. Besides, the tenancy agreement did not contain a clause that asks for a professional clean at the end of the tenancy and the Tenant Fees Act 2019 has stated that "A landlord or agent cannot require you to pay for a professional clean when tenant check-out. This includes a professional deep clean. "And "Since 1 June 2020, the term (for professional clean) requiring that payment is no longer be binding on tenant. " Thus we are not liable for any professional cleaning. 

 

The landlord argued that it is NOT a professional cleaning and argued that they did NOT force my husband to pick this cleaning company.

 

Under the circumstances that my husband had NO choices to pick a cleaning company and he was not informed before hiring the professional cleaning company, that is called forced in NATURE.

 

The professional company that the landlord hired cost more than double the market price which constituted the reasonable suspicion of scamming the tenant.

 

4.  After living in the flat for a few days, my husband already found out that the ventilation of the bathroom did not work and thus it caused some mold on the sealants. Within an enclosed area like the bathroom with no windows, no ventilation, but water was needed to be used in, it is predictable that mold would grow. And my husband already sent an email enclosed with the pictures of the mold to the landlord. But they did not send anyone to fix the ventilation, which they argued that the mold on the sealants is not considered “fair wear and tear”, but luckily my husband did have the proof of the email informing the landlord about the problem in the first place.

 

5. The wardrobe wooden bar of the flat was broken and we were willing to fix it as we checked online that for market price it would only cost 50 pound. And the landlord wanted charge us for 100 pound.

 

Facing the injustice and malicious action to be scammed, my husband intended to bring the issue to TDS (“Tenancy Deposit Scheme” https://www.thedisputeservice.co.uk/), but the landlord rejected this action to solve the dispute and intended to bring the issue to court. TDS cannot assist to solve the problem if the landlord does not consent to forward the case to TDS.

(Ref: https://www.tenancydepositscheme.com/learn-more/information-tds-lounge/faqs/

Should I go to court rather than use TDS?

Either party may go to court if they prefer. We can only deal with a dispute if both tenant and landlord agree they want us to. Most people prefer to come to us because they feel it will be quicker, cheaper and less stressful. Like the courts, we are independent, authoritative and our decision is binding. However, while we can deal with proposed deductions from a deposit, we cannot consider counterclaims or matters unrelated to the deposit.”)

 

I strongly suggested that my husband should go to court if the landlord did not want to solve it with TDS because the landlord only wanted to scam us and by leveling up to court which took much more time and money during process would make us succumb to the injustice. But since it is my husband who signed the tenancy agreement instead of me, I could not represent him to make the decision to go to court with solving this. My husband has a job which makes him work a lot and even on weekends sometimes, with considering the resources that he needed to put in if he had to attend some court hearing, he decided not to level up this issue to court and paid the landlord the unreasonable fee.

 

The lessons I learned from this matter and advice I want to give the tenants are listed as below,

 

1. Read the tenancy agreement and the Tenant Fees Act 2019 carefully, know your rights and responsibilities well before you sign, be extra careful with any clause related to cleaning issue, because this can be ambiguous and can be an excuse from the landlord or agency to deduct your deposit.

 

2. Take not only pictures but slow and clear video of the flat or house before you move in. If possible, ask someone to be there when you take your pictures and video. The third party being there when you take your video can be a witness when you have to raise your dispute to court or TDS. Remember to take pictures and video inside of the oven, fridge, cabinet, washing machine, dishwasher etc. anything that could be open or in the corner like under the bed because it might be used as an excused to deduct your deposit too. (My husband did not open the washing machine to take picture after cleaning the whole flat and he was accused of leaving a hair in the washing machine, which quoted by the landlord was “dirty”.)

 

3. Inform the landlord any problem that is in the landlord’s responsibility like ventilation out of order immediately. If you do not do it in a reasonable period of time (which is asap), you might be attacked for problems in the flat that you should not be responsible for.

 

4. Record any contact with the letting agency and landlord, use email for most of the time but if it is a phone call or meeting in person, record the conversation by voice recorder.

 

5. Be patient and stand up against injustice. Do not be afraid that this cost a bit more than the deposit. If I were my husband I would definitely go to court to solve this matter because it was not about money only, it was about justice and going against people who take advantage of the innocent. The landlord and letting companies who did not prefer to solve it with TDS and propose to take this to court are taking advantage of our mentality that we do not want to spend more time and resources fighting against injustice.

 

I spent time writing this experience for reminding the tenants of not making the same mistakes as we did and I want to stand up to fight the injustice. And in all, I sincerely hope that less people will be scammed for not having enough knowledge about renting.

 

 

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