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Redbrick

Students enraged by substandard letting agent

Selly Oak letting agency Rooms4every1, trading as Gentle Properties Limited, has been suspended from their accreditation with the MLAS (Midland Landlord Association Scheme), Redbrick has learned.

Several University of Birmingham students had experienced issues surrounding property maintenance and deposits. Erasmus student, Thibault Deblache, had £317.98 of a £520 deposit withheld by his landlord; one of the more common complaints with regards to Rooms4every1.

The charges included a £227 invoice for cleaning service, in respect of which the adjudicator from ‘MyDeposits’- the firm that acts as a third party with regards to housing deposits for multiple Rooms4every1 lettings- stated ‘contract cleaners are available in Birmingham at £70 to £100 per day. The cleaning required at the property as evidenced from the check out report would in my view have taken a professional cleaner no more than a day to do.’ The landlord had also failed to provide evidence for the state of the household prior the letting.

‘It is for the landlord to establish by evidence that, on the balance of probabilities, the tenant was in breach of his obligations under the tenancy agreement’, which when accumulated with the evidence against them, meant that the landlord was only allowed to withhold £90 of the £317.98. This lead to a repayment of 72% of what was originally withheld from the tenant’s original deposit.

One student, who wished to remain anonymous, lived in a Rooms4every1 property last academic year. He claimed that he and his housemates have been unfairly charged for numerous reasons.

Although they accept some of the charges incurred in their end-of-tenancy invoice, they believe that over £400 of their original deposit was deducted unfairly. This was either for damage that the tenants say they did not cause, or for repairs they believe should have been covered by the ‘service charge’ which they paid as part of their rent.

For example, the contract stated that the tenants would be charged £2 per week for the occasional removal of rubbish, yet they were also charged an extra £35 for the removal of rubbish from the garden in their deposit invoice at the end of the year. They were also charged £30 for the removal of rubbish from an adjoining alleyway which they claim was there before they moved into the property.

He also mentioned discrepancies over what could and could not be charged for. On moving into the property he claims that a previously broken door handle was reported to Rooms4every1. This was replaced, but the tenants were not made aware that they would be charged for it until their invoice at the end of the year.

The student added that on two occasions repairmen used a key to gain access to the house through his bedroom without prior warning as required by the tenancy agreement.

He said of Rooms4every1 that: ‘They do not respect student’s privacy and they will try to cut corners with repairs and then make students pay for them whether it is their fault or not.’

A second student, who again wished to remain anonymous, claims to be owed over £250 in unfair deductions from her deposit by the lettings agency. As an example, she pointed to a charge for the removal of rubbish- in this case £7.50 – in an area which was shared by other houses and shops. The student claims that the rubbish was not theirs and could have come from any of the surrounding buildings.

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