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Do I have to take up flooring that I didn't put down??

Apologies in advanced for asking but you're all such a varied and intelligent bunch so I thought I would ask. I am seeking legal advice over the next few days.

Very briefly, I am moving and my landlord, the council, is demanding that I take up laminate flooring that was already down when I moved in - otherwise they will bill us to take it up. The stuff is glued down and would be almost impossible to get up.

Despite objections they won't budge. They claim that we accepted it as a "gifted item".

I didn't put the damn stuff in and it is in the same condition as when I moved in. Can they make this demand???

I am fuming with this.

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18th Oct 2011 17:30

Your client

If you said this was for a client and questioned if tax deductable then we could have responded without censure but for whats its worth (and before we get a telling off):-

If you can prove it was there when you moved in, I don't think the Council have a leg to stand on. How could you have accepted it as a gift if you didn't know it was not supposed to be there?

I would expect this sort of carry on with lettings agents (modern day highway men without the mask & gun) but not a local authority.

They might try to produce paperwork supporting the position that you were supposed to object to when you moved in but I can't see them getting very far.

The question is do you have the money for the legal fees to fight them?

 

 

 

 

 

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18th Oct 2011 17:47

Well I think the only thing they need to prove is : did we consent to the gift on moving in? I don't recall signing a contract to say that I did and I cannot think of any legal principle that would simply bestow the gift automatically.

You're right - it's not the council per se but an association acting on their behalf.

I might not have the money but I have the will and the legal contacts.

Many thanks for your reponse. Hope I don't get too many people wasting their time telling me off for posting this :-)

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18th Oct 2011 18:10

Ah, explains everything

What I suspect will happen is that the agency will produce your tenancy agreement that says somewhere in vague terms and lawyer talk that you are responsible for vacting the property in the condition it was let (or words to that effect) but will also try to point to an even vaguer clause that basically says if you didn't make them aware of any damage/deficiencies when you moved in then it is your problem.

Did they conduct any sort of inspection while you were there? If not, I believe this will weaken their position but unfortuntely, it still falls on you to prove it.

 

 

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By BKD
18th Oct 2011 18:53

A gift is a gift

So 'gift' it back to them  ;)

Sorry, that's a rather facetious reply and I don't honestly know what the legal position is.

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18th Oct 2011 18:59

Usual rules..
If there is nothing eplicit in the contract that mentions the flooring then they would have to rely on interpreting a vague clause. In this scenario then contract law says that benefit of the doubt goes to the one who did not draw up the contract.

Do you have any proof that flooring was in at the start? Documents that refence it or photos from you or them that can be dated?

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18th Oct 2011 21:58

Interesting thought

If they are saying that it has to come up why was it not taken up when the previous tennant vacated.  I wonder whether they charged them to take it up and then didn't carry it out!

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19th Oct 2011 09:18

I would guess

The previous tenant did a 'runner' (or had no money) the property is a flat not on the ground floor and the tenants below have in the past complained about the noise laminate flooring makes when walked upon.

I had just this issue in a previous employment with a housing association.

 

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By neileg
19th Oct 2011 09:25

Dilapidations

I assume this is a commercial lease, not a domestic lease.

If the lease to you was a new one running from the date you took occupation then you can repudiate the landlord's claim for dilapidations in respect of the floor. If you took an assignment of an existing lease from the previous tenant then you will have inheirited the previous tenants's liability. If the flooring wasn't in place when the lease was created, the landlord has the right to insist you remove it.

I have seen cases where thousands of pounds of fitting out has had to be removed to return a building to a shell at the end of a lease. Logic has nothing to do with it.

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21st Oct 2011 12:20

Schedule of condition

Was one of these done when you moved in.... always a good precaution usually done by a surveyor... I would ask a surveyor to look at the issues for you.

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21st Oct 2011 12:26

My advice is to

speak with your friendly Chartered Surveyor.  THe floor could just be the start of your problems

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21st Oct 2011 12:35

Repairs

Neileg is correct on the effect of whose lease it was originally.

If you were the original lessee and the flooring was there, it would be a Landlord's fixture unless there is any specific note in the lease saying that you have any other obligation regading the flooring.  Usually your obligation will be to return the premises 'in repair'.  You would have to put it back into repair it if it were damaged - whether you did the damage or not.  The only way around this would have been to have a schedule of condition attached to the original lease. 

 

So if there are chunks of the floor that are broken up or missing, the floor would be out of repair.  If there are small marks on the floor, the issue of the standard of repair comes forward.  Do you need to provide a new surface?  If it was a new floor then perhaps.  If the floor is in generally the same condition as when you let the premises you would argue that it continues to be the appropriate standard for letting that premises and you are under no obligation to do anything to it - apart from clean it of course. 

It is always useful to take photos before you move into a property - even better to have them attached to the lease as a Schedule of Condition.

 

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22nd Oct 2011 16:43

Speak to your local Councillors

I would suggest speaking to your local Councillor representatives on the Council involved (see www.writetothem.com) and ask them to come and have a look at the problem and talk some sense into the Council - Councillors often have superior powers of persuasion over Council officials.

If it is a residential property and there has been a history of the flooring causing noise problems to neighbouring properties, the Council's position might be understandable, but even then its hard to see how it is reasonable if the property was returned in the same state it was originally let. That point coupled with the threat of the Council being drawn into legal action it was likely to lose should be enough to persuade local Councillors to intervene on your behalf such that costly legal action may not be required.

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24th Oct 2011 15:12

The Council trying to get you to take up a floor

Your question has been answered in a number of ways above but the key point is: To find out what you are liable for, read the lease. The lease is the defining document in property agreements and unless somewhere in there you agreed to accept the floor and agreed to take it up, the onus is on the Council to demonstrate where this additional liability comes from.  for example, an exchange of letters agreeing that you will take the floor up.  Dilapidations claims are the cause of more grief and cost to tenants than can be counted and the reason is that the burden is calmly accepted at the outset but does not come into effect until the end.  Limit your liability going into a lease and you will have [surprise] limited liability at the end.  www.culverwellconsulting.co.uk

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03rd May 2013 07:17

Prior to moving that place before, you should have inspect that first. Anyway, there seems you have no problem, but it is within your landlord, perhaps they are not expecting the facility whether something is broken, ripping or pulling off, and your only problem too is you have not relayed any concern about that tiles or flooring conditions. And now you are leaving, they just thought that you are removing it and they asked you to pay. Why will you do so, this is a misunderstanding that I think you can still handle, provided that the landlord will now that so demanding.

Cheers,
Jake Ashton
one coat stucco product dealer.

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