Proof of damage when witholding deposit

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My tenants signed a standard assured shorthold tenancy agreement for a period of 8 months, and then left a month early. They left the property in a bad state and I have had to carry out quite a lot of work, including replacing carpets (badly burnt) and various other items. They also left owing money to the utility companies and, although they left me some cash to cover the bills it was still short by over 200. If I add up the month's rent owing, and the damage, and deduct the deposit I am keeping, they still owe me over 800. (There is also other damage that I have not asked for reimbursement for as it is probably wear and tear - carpet cleaning in other rooms, retouching paintwork, etc.)

The tenants have returned to France and I have written to them with a full statement of my costs, including receipts and photographs of the damage, and stating what they owe me. The letter reached them within the 30 days required after they moved out - or is it 30 days from the end of the tenancy in which case it was a month early! (Due to the complications of getting the money from France I am resigned to losing this extra payment, but wanted to put my case clearly as to why I was not returning the deposit.)

I have now had a letter back from one of the guarantors stating that I denied them an inspection/inventory check, that they had to wait 3 weeks before receiving the letter, and refuting the damage. He also states that I "sent some pictures without proving that they were taken in the rented property"

The tenants were all there when I inspected the property 3 months before they left, and one tenant was still there when I did the inventory check with him. They verbally agreed that the carpets were badly damaged, and some other points, although I did only find some damage after they'd left. (I thought this is why one didn't return the deposit on the spot.) They were sent a letter when they gave notice stating that they had signed for a fixed period and that the rent was due. The photographs are obviously of that property, although I did not have them witnessed and signed. I can produce a witness (my boyfriend) that the damage was as I stated.

My question is, how should I now proceed? Am I correct in interpreting the points about being able to keep the month's rent owing from the deposit, and sending information within 30 days? Is it enough to write all this to them, or should I be taking any further action? (As I said, I would like to avoid court action for the outstanding amount, but I don't want to be in the position of having to return any of the deposit.) Is it worth showing I'm being reasonable by listing the wear and tear damage that I am not chasing them for?

11/06/2007 00:00

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