Final exit inspection and dispute with landlord

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My Son rented a property for two and a half years. He handed his notice in and the day before his tenancy expired, the landlord, a woman, carried out a final inspection with my son present and said all was ok and the full deposit would be release. She even gave my son a bottle of wine and a card as a ‘thank you. The property was empty at the time of the inspection so nothing was hidden. My son then handed his keys into the agent the following day, the final day of the tenancy. A few days later my son received an email from the landlord’s partner who had allegedly just returned from holiday and carried out his own inspection of the property. He said that the property was damaged and the carpets needed cleaning and my son was in breach of his tenancy agreement and he would not receive his full deposit back. He said that the landlord, his partner, did not notice any damage during her inspection. My son was surprised by the remarks and now there is a dispute. My son has a txt message from the landlord saying the full £450 deposit would be released and there was no need to clean the carpets. I wrote a letter to the landlord asking what damage and how much is she claiming? She is not answering the questions or contacting me. She is leaving all communication with her partner. He left me a voice message saying my letter has been thrown in the bin and my son has received an e-mail saying that the cost of cleaning and repairs is in excess of the £450 deposit and he would be claiming this via the small claims court. We still do not know what damage allegedly he is claiming for and for how much. The partner claims to have photo’s of the damage and receipts for repairs. (My suspicion is he has caused damage himself and took photo’s in order to have repairs done at my sons expense). My son has checked the deposit scheme and he needs to fill out a form which has to be signed by either a magistrate or a solicitor which of course they will charge my son for.

Questions.

Is the text message my son received valid enough as evidence that the landlord agreed to pay back the full £450 deposit and can he hold her to that?

Can the landlord change their mind from returning the full or part deposit because damage is found, allegedly, they missed on the first inspection?

Is the second inspection carried out by the partner valid as this was carried out after the tenancy end date and after the keys were returned and my son not present or invited to be present?

I have explained to the partner that I am a landlord and member of the RLA but this went down on deaf ears. He is adamant not to release the deposit. Obviously trying it on but at a financial cost and inconvenience to my son. This landlord has also failed to maintain the gas appliances twice and is three months out of date with the last one. I mentioned this to them but this also fell on deaf ears. The partner insists that the gas fitter tried several times to gain access without success. This is not true but the partner knows a gas fitter ‘who can provide a letter to prove this’. My son has also found out that this landlord is not declaring tax on the income either. My son rented this house via a professional letting agency. We are dealing with a rogue landlord here but legally how do we get round this without incurring cost.

Any advice on how my son should pursue this will be appreciated. (This is strange dealing with a dispute from the other side of the tenancy agreement).

Kevin

08/03/2013 00:00

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