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Ex Landlord issued court claim re rent arrears and dilapidations

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  • Ex Landlord issued court claim re rent arrears and dilapidations


    Claim received 29/10/21, via a solicitor on behalf of ex landlord.

    Submitted AOS, and have been trying to work out how to complete my defence. I was not sure where to go for help and then found this forum and hoping I can get some advice as it's a bit complicated. I think that my deadline must be tomorrow at 4pm, based on 28 days from the date of issue so don't unfortunately have a lot of time left!

    The landlord is claiming for rent arrears, plus (disputed) dilapidations on property, and then interest and costs on top - total 1,407.99. They had failed to carry out a good standard of repairs on the house, as acknowledged by their managing agent when I raised a formal complaint. I therefore made the decision that my children and I would need to move to a new property as nothing was going to change, and we did so in August 2020, despite only being in the house for a year and not wanting the disruption and cost. My income was reduced at the time due to Covid 19 and I then had all the expense of moving house. This meant I was unable to pay full rent for the last two months we were living there, and paid part rent in these two months. I proposed that the arrears should be taken from my deposit. This would cover 2096.72 of what was owed, and I offered to pay the remaining 235 over a six month period. I did not receive a response on this proposal.

    After the check out,t he landlord alleged that there were dilapidations of 779.60. I disputed all of the points in detail and it felt as if they were being raised as retaliation for moving out and for raising a complaint about how the property was managed. The case went to the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) for review. They asked on 8th Dec 2020 if I agreed to the full deposit being released for the rent arrears. I agreed, as that is what I had originally proposed, and I also said again to the managing agent for the landlord that I was willing to pay the small amount of rent arrears not covered by the deposit over the next six months. The TDS said that since the full deposit was released in respect of the rent arrears, the case would now be closed. This meant that the dispute over dilapidations was not reviewed.

    In May 2021 I received a letter of claim from the landlord's solicitor demanding payment of rent arrears and dilapidations within 14 days, no offer of dispute resolution. I replied to defend, and received another two letters, the last in October, and then the court claim on 29/10/21. Although most of the rent was agreed to be paid through the released deposit, they continue to list the full amount as rent arrears (as this would constitute a breach of contract I assume) and apply interest to the full amount. They also demand these dilapidations which have never been agreed as if they are a given.

    Although I cannot really afford and I would have to ask family to help (I already have a DMP due to debts with ex husband) my thoughts were to offer again to pay the 235 which constitutes the last of the rent arrears, but to defend the dilapidations with what I already prepared for the TDS.

    On responding to the solicitor, I was told by a legal helpline I could consider a counter claim since the landlord had breached contract by not agreeing to necessary repairs and misrepresentation when I took the house, and even for the disruption and costs of moving. I even have the former acknowledged in the response from the managing agent to my complaint However, this has all taken me so long already, I would rather it went it away asap as find it all very stressful and I don't know how to start with that.

    So, my request for help is how I word all this in the defence. I have started on line, but having looked at a few examples, it looks wordy and emotional. I feel like the landlord is being petty and vindictive, and also greedy after causing me huge disruption already and apart from not having the funds to pay, it would be a massive injustice. Thanks!

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  • #2
    Do you have all the correspondence between you and the TDS? If you can prove that you agreed for the deposit to pay the rent then I would think you only need to worry about the delapidations as you call them - what are they claiming for? Damage? If so was there a full inventory? Can the Landlord prove the state of the property when you entered?


    • #3
      Yes, I have the emails between me and the TDS, where they specifically asked if I approved release of the deposit for rent arrears, and I replied to that end.

      They are claiming for 'damages for sustained losses' as a breach of the Tenancy agreement. It's anything they thought they could get away with e.g picture hooks in walls, alleged damage to paint work on skirting, cleaning, light bulbs, keys, garden not tidy enough, replacement of a coir doormat (that was old and damaged by a leak anyway). It is hilarious considering what could not be used, like a shower, and what was not maintained. There was a check in and a check out inventory. What has not been done though, and what I detailed in my dispute already, is a comparison of the two. I had professional cleaning carried out for example and it was spotless, yet in the check in, it was acknowledged that additional cleaning was required. As I understand it, these matters would usually be looked at and mediated by TDS, but of course this has not happened


      • #4
        Should I post this in the Court thread as well? New to the site and just realised it should probably have gone there.


        • #5
          Double posting is not a good idea - better to ask admins to move. In terms of your case, what do the check in and out reports show? Ie was the wall perfect before and not after, was the paintwork on the skirting perfect or were any scuffs noted etc. The LL will have to prove his case.


          • #6
            The check in report showed there were already marks on the walls and skirting, areas that needed cleaning. It's a Victorian house, with lots of quirks, so easy just to pick out elements of a check out report without referring back to the check in...The check out people are now only paid for by the landlords, so I don't feel they are particularly balanced in the way they report at the end, or at least this one was not.


            • #7
              In that case the LL should not be able to evidence any claim he may make.


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