Contacting new tenant

We have just moved out of a rental property where we have had a rat infestation for 2 years. Been a nightmare to be honest and now the landlady is trying to take our deposit. So annoyed with it.

She has rented out the house again and the estate agent has sent me the new lease for signing by accident. It has the new tenants contact details. I am want to send the new tenants photos of the correspondence and the rat issues but wonder about the legal consequences for me. Any advice?

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Was the cause of the rat infestation established?

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They live in the overgrown garden

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Why has she taken your deposit?

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She is claiming that

  • we touched up the walls with the ring paint (existing when we moved in and documented in opening inventory)
  • leak from bath has damaged ceiling (we raised this in week 1 of a 3 year tenancy)
  • washing machine needs replacing (again we raised it wasn’t working properly in week 1 of a 3 year tenancy)
  • other wear and tear

She is claiming £2300 which I am confident we will get back

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@azamour My view is that the issues your raised in your original posting should be dealt with separately:-

  1. The estate agent sending you details of the new tenant is likely to be a breach of GDPR rules, however, it is the estate agent who has potentially breached these rules not your previous landlord. If you wanted to raise your concerns regarding this I would suggest writing to the Data Protection Officer (all companies should have a designated person). You cant unsee the information you have provided so all they can do is apologise to you, the new tenant and confirm what steps they are putting in place to prevent re-occurance. It should be noted that GDPR rules only apply to companies not individuals so any action you do decide to take will not impact your previous landlord.
  2. With regards to the holding of your deposit, I would suggest allowing this to go to dispute for an independent adjudication. Whilst I appreciate you are confident of getting it back, your previously landlord is also probably thinking likewise. Whilst we only have 1 side of the story here, the rules on landlords holding deposit for wear and tear are clear.
  3. I would steer clear of contacting the new tenants. It is unclear who is responsible for the overgrown garden or even if that is the cause of the rat infestation. I would let the new tenant deal with their new tenancy rather than get involved.
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That’s probably sound advice @Martin41. We have applied to the deposit scheme so let’s see what happens. Am I correct to say that they will only look at the opening v closing inventory? Can the landlady use additional photos which were not picked up in either inventory? Also can we get a copy of the closing inventory?

I was thinking we could contact to new tenant just to let her know that we have received the contract in error. Our relationship with the landlady has not ended well so we are letting her know. If she has any questions about the property then get in touch.

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I think that trying to stir the pot as a way getting your own back is probably not the best way to go.

You should have been given a copy of the closing inventory, bad practice of agent to not supply this at the time, so yes you can request a copy.

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My understanding is that the adjudicator will only be interested in the state of the property when you handed it back compared to how it was when it when the tenancy started. So in theory, you could have taken on an immaculate property, lived in it for 2 years like a pig sty and then returned it to the immaculate state the day you move out. I don’t think any deposit could be withheld in this circumstance (of course I am not saying you did treat it like a pig sty!)
If a landlord is withholding any of the deposit then the onus is on the to demonstrate any shortfall. I don’t know if there is any legal responsibility to provide the closing inventory but they should be able to demonstrate why they feel the need to withhold the deposit. I don’t believe it is unreasonable for you to be provided with the closing inventory.
From the information you have provided, I suspect that you will quite rightly get your deposit back as it does allow for reasonable wear and tear (although the definition of reasonable does open up a debate that is very often discussed on this forum).

With regards to contacting the new tenant, I would still advise contacting the estate agent to advise of their error and gaining confirmation from them that they have advised the new tenant of their error. I think it would be fair to give them the opportunity to do this, however, if they do not, advise them you will go directly to the new tenant. I would hope the estate agent would feel the bad news is better coming from them rather than via yourself.

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Thanks for the advice. We won’t contact the new tenants. We have however spoken to a journalist who is looking to do a story about the rat infestation on the property. I have sent on photos of the rats, damage caused by the rats and WhatsApp conversations with the landlady to the journalist. I will let her do the story and leave it at that.

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I’d advise that just before you leave a rented property, you take many photos and videos of the state of the interior and exterior so that you have your own independent evidence.

I’d also advise that when you give notice, you ask the LL, in writing, to let you know any potential deposit deductions that they expect to make so that you can a) possibly mitigate them before you leave and/or b) prove that no notice was given of any issue that is subsequently raised.

Neither of these makes your case watertight if a dispute arises, but it does make it far stronger.

Hi

Best take the two issues separately

Rat infestation issue - you mention the rats live in the “overgrown garden”. I suggest you quickly check your tenancy agreement. If it says you are responsible for maintaining the garden (this is the norm on tenancy agreements) then the landlord can argue that you called the rate issue by lack of maintenance for the garden. They may also be able to recover the cost of returning the garden to its previous state from the deposit. Do not raise this issue unless you are sure of your case - it may end up costing you.
Some issues that may also influence this are did you report the issue to environmental health ?And what the landlord agreed to do aboutr the rats? Did you allow full access to the property for setting of traps and bait etc.
Any tribunal or court would consider whether the the property already had a rat infestation when you moved in, if the landlord was negligent in failing to del with points of ingress. If the infestation caused illness or caused you to move out of the property. In those cases the Landlord is responsible.
If however you failed to maintain the garden - or to keep you home clean, free of crumbs on kitchen floor etc , with carpets regulalry hoovered or if the garden or house is full of rubbish sacks discarded furniture etc they may rule you were responsible for the infestation .

Deposit - you simply appeal to the deposit protection agency - if you have left damage or disrepair and the landlord can evidence that then this will be deducted your deposit regardless of the rats.

However you may be able to claim a repayment of rent if say environmental health ordered you landlord to deal with infestation and she did not.

If there are rats the new tenant will soon know about it and I would be vary wary about interfering in the the relationship with the new tenant and landlord. Either the tenant or the landlord could see this as harrassment.- if the new tenant does decide to take action against the Landlord you may be resented if you then decline to give evidence to a court or tribunal. As yourself if you want to stay involved.

You would propably resent it if you landlord contacted you new landlord or employer to give them evidence of what an awful tenant they thought you had been! So be careful about escalation unless you intend to folow through in court ! .

Rats will only “infest” a place if there is a food source. They have to eat, they don’t just sit around waiting for welfare handouts. So you have to wonder why the garden was overgrown, and what food source was available to them. In my case we had a rat infestation in a property and it turned out the tenant left big bags of dog food in the garage, and rats snuck in under the door and bit through the bags to get the nutricious food, and drag some of it away to a store they then made under the floor. Another reason to be wary of people with pets…

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Ok. So we have had a valuation for damages from the landlady. She values damages at 6,400. Our deposit is £2,300. Things she has included are:

  1. Paint touched up with wrong colour + damage in ceiling due to leak £1,500. Our defense. The check in report noted patchy paintwork in most rooms. I informed the landlady about the leak in the kitchen ceiling within 2 weeks of moving in. She said the leak has happened before and all 4 shower curtains need to be closes. I told her there were only 3 shower curtains in the bath.

  2. She is claiming that we were hostile and she couldn’t show the property so has lost rent. In reality there was a rat infestation which we reported to the council and wasn’t resolved. We never resorted to name calling or anything of the sort and never refused anyone access to the property. £2,500

  3. We were late paying rent for 2 months during our tenancy. I told her I was between jobs and would pay as soon as I could. She got debt collectors involved and is charging us their costs £700.

I feel this is ridiculous. What do people think?

She doesnt have much hope with those claims. Just keep disputibg the costs.

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I would let the adjudicator decide by taking this to dispute.

Be mindful that the adjudicator can only award up to the deposit, anything over this, the landlord would need to seek via courts. They would still need to justify any financial losses.

Not buying this, who lives in a rat infested place for two years! when one call to the council would have them crawling all over the landlord.
if you are not happy let the adjudicator do their job, they normally heavily favour the tenant so do its and move on