Tenant slapped with whopping bill from landlord for office she left years ago
PUBLISHED: 12:22 14 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:40 14 June 2019
A Norwich businesswoman has slammed landlords after they billed her thousands for wear and tear and legal costs on an office she moved out of years ago.
Yvonne Astley, who runs Astley & Co estate agency, relocated to new premises out of the city centre but remained liable for the commercial rent owed on the office in King Street. She will have paid £108,000 since signing a six year lease in March 2013. The landlords claim she owes further rent.
But after the tenancy ended she received a 'schedule of dilapidations' which lists 14 items of 'damage' the landlords claim she caused - and the bill totals a whopping £8,500.
Yvonne disputes much of this in an office which is just one room and a kitchenette of 536 sqft - about 45 times the size of a bath towel.
Tracy Guest, from Norton Legal in Taverham, the solicitor used by landlords Malcolm and Sally Turner, of Malt Kiln Farm, in Stoke Holy Cross, to prepare the schedule, said: "Yvonne still owes a significant amount of rent and is in breach of various other provisions of the lease relating to her obligations in respect of the repair and condition of the property, which is what I have been instructed to deal with."
The bill comes after the Turners inspected the property in April.
The list of repairs includes:
Windows to be cleaned inside and out - £80
Woodwork including window frames previously decorated but where paint is splitting/cracking to be lightly rubbed down and application of one coat of undercoat and one top coat - £600
Removal of rawl plugs to walls to be filled and lightly sanded then redecorated with two coats of emulsion paint - £350
Disposal of carpet, removal of any residual adhesive in order to leave the floor ready for re-carpeting - £500
Clear out and clean down cupboards, sink and wall tiles - £35
Clean down hand basin and wall tiles - £10
Crack to window pane in casement window facing Rose Lane, remove broken window pane and old putty, replace with acoustic glass and putty in - £168
The most expensive item is a claim for repairs to the boiler or a replacement - for £1,980.
The list amounts to £4,373 but the landlords have added legal fees of £1,000 as well as 'preparation' and 'negotiation' of the schedule - costing a further £2,125 - and 'project management of the work' costing £1,000.
Yvonne said: "I was only in the office for two and half years, the rest of the time it has stood empty. The office is so tiny. To charge so much for things like cleaning a small cupboard or for tiny holes in the wall where I had put some pictures up and not filled them in is just ridiculous.
"I fell in love with the office. I signed a six year lease for £18,000 a year and I was naive, I accept that. It was a mistake, and I have lived that mistake."
Yvonne claims the landlords did not take on tenants she found including one bridal shop owner. The office has recently been listed again for rent for £12,000 a year and a let agreed.