Case Study: £440 bill for a mystery clean-up

When a tenant moved out of his rented home, he imagined it would be straightforward. There was an issue concerning whether or not he had properly informed the letting agent about his pet dog, but he thought the situation had been resolved.


However, after he and his partner had gone, the agent's inspection was completed. To his horror, the agent said the property was in such a sorry state that it needed professional cleaning (despite the carpet being marked as "fair" on arrival and departure.)


The firm deducted £440 – almost half his deposit – for cleaning and gardening.


However, the tenant knows the owner of the cleaning company the agent claims to have used and the cleaners denied having cleaned the house. Yes, they had submitted an estimate, but they claimed they often provided quotes for the same letting agent, but were never commissioned to do the work.


The tenant suspected this was fraud, so he called the police station and quoted the Fraud Act. But they suggested he and the letting agent should sort this out between them, before eventually explaining that the fraud squad were not interested.


He knows the sum involved isn't that large, but, as he says: "I'm lucky – I had enough money put by for another deposit, but what about those who suffer from deductions? It's wrong."


His next port of call (apart from his local trading standards) is his deposit protection scheme, which provides arbitration if there is a dispute. But the tenant would still like his day in court. He is waiting for the agent concerned to either admit it wrongly charged him for work that was not done, or maintain they did the work so he can take further legal action.


He is now awaiting the decision of the Deposit Protection Service, to come after the letting agent has submitted its side of the story.


The lesson from all this is be on your guard. Take good quality photographs of the state of the property on leaving. Above all, if you do not agree with deductions, contest them, as the process is not complicated.

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