INVESTIGATION: Keylet have been charging Cardiff students for damage they did not do
They’ve also changed exit reports for student houses
Cardiff letting agent Keylet have been charging tenants for damage they did not do and falsifying inventories and exit inspections, an investigation by The Cardiff Tab can reveal.
It comes after the student rental company were referred to licensing agency Rent Smart Wales.
Students have branded the company a "disgusting excuse for a business" that use "lies and falsehoods" to take students' money.
The Cardiff Tab's investigation found:
• Keylet have been charging successive tenants for the same damage as those before them
• They have made bizarre charges, such as £15 for the removal of sellotape from a wardrobe
• They have falsified inventories and exit inspection reports
• They have sent letters to tenants after the deadline the letter includes
They charge tenants for the same damage every year
Students have been charged for issues which were already present when they moved in to their properties. In one case, students had been charged £147 for a living room door being "ripped off the hinges", despite the tenant providing photographic evidence that the door was not on its frame when they moved in.
Below is a photo of the tenant's living room doorway when they moved into the property, showing that the door was not attached.
Below can be seen the letter sent by Keylet to the tenant at the end of their tenancy, showing their deposit deductions.
Below is the deposit deductions taken from the previous occupant of the property, showing that they too were charged £50 to re-attach the same door to its frame.
Keylet said: "If amended inventories were not provided and tenants have not provided evidence to counter the claim, we have to adhere to the original inventory as stated in all documents and communication during the key collection."
Their charges are bizarre
One student was charged £15 for the "removal of sellotape from wardrobe."
When tenants disputed Keylet's claims, rather than removing costs Keylet sometimes lowered them, halving the charge for things like mattresses and painting walls.
A student told The Cardiff Tab: "Keylet's charges were ridiculous and didn't reflect real life costs at all. It was like they were just making them up as they went along so it added up to nearly the full deposit."
Keylet told The Cardiff Tab: "All charges are in line with the tenancy hand book which work in conjunction with the signed tenancy agreement. All charges are in line with the TDS guidelines. Some charges may have been discussed with landlords resulting in deductions. Keylet work on behalf of the landlords and therefore have to come to an agreement with the landlords."
They've been accused of falsifying inventories and exit inspection reports
Tenants have told the Cardiff Tab that Keylet have produced false versions of exit reports and inventories.
For one student Keylet submitted the wrong version of their inventory as evidence to the deposit protection scheme. The student told The Cardiff Tab: "We'd made a new version of the inventory after we'd moved in because their original wasn't accurate and we got this signed by Keylet. However when we were disputing charges with the DPS Keylet then submitted the original as evidence."
Below is a version of the inventory made by Keylet before the tenant moved in.
However when the tenants began living in the property, they noticed that this original inventory wasn't accurate. They added comments to it, which can be seen below, then went to Keylet to have this version signed as the agreed version between both parties. Keylet did this.
However, in the dispute over the tenant's deposit which was being looked at by the Deposit Protection Scheme, Keylet submitted the first version of the inventory as evidence, without the tenant's added comments which they had agreed to.
The DPS eventually returned most of the disputed amount to the tenants, but not all of it.
In a similar case, a tenant told us their inventory had been "edited/doctored to remove my comments and only leave my signature and date".
Below is the real inventory showing the tenant's comments.
Below is a false version submitted by Keylet to the Deposit Protection Scheme which showed the tenant's signature but did not have the added comments. The tenant never signed a version without added comments.
Below is some of the evidence this student submitted to the Deposit Protection Scheme to prove their case.
Keylet produce exit inspections which tenants haven't seen or signed
In another case Keylet produced an exit inspection which had comments not originally present when signed by the tenant. The student told The Cardiff Tab: "The report they provided didn't have the initials on every page, and had loads of comments that weren't there when signed about the flat being dirty and damaged."
A tenant then later met the Keylet employee who had carried out the inspection on a night out, and said that the employee told them they had seen the tenant initial every page.
When we put this to Keylet Sales and Lettings, they said that this had been the original report and no changes had been made. However, they did also say that "tenants are asked to initial each page of this document if they are present at the time of inspection."
Two of the tenants were present for this inspection, and they and the Keylet employee confirmed all pages were initialled. The below exit inspection produced by Keylet does not have the tenant initials on each page, and contains comments not present when the tenant did initial and sign the document.
Keylet Sales and Lettings told the Cardiff Tab: "Inventories provided to the tenancy deposit scheme will be the original copy from the day keys were collected, if an amended inventory hasn’t been returned to us from the tenants. All tenants are made aware of the procedure at the time of key collection, with written documents supporting this.
"Tenants were contacted by text, email and letter up to three months prior to the tenancy end date advising them to book an exit inspection if they wish to be present, which Keylet recommend. These exit inspections are carried out on a first come first term basis due to the volume of tenancies vacating on the same day.
"Photographic evidence is taken of ALL properties managed by Keylet along with a detailed inspection report. Keylet also offer advice on how tenants should leave their property before vacating to avoid any charges."
They send letters after the deadline the letter is about
Multiple students told The Cardiff Tab they received letters telling them they had up until a certain date to respond to Keylet, and that if they did not respond it meant they were agreeing to the deductions to their deposit. However, students said they did not receive these letters until after the deadline that was within the letter.
One student said Keylet had "purposely dated the letter for the 8th July, despite the postage stamp proving that this did not arrive until the 13th July." The letter said that the student had seven days to respond.
Another student said they "received a letter dated for the week before, saying we had seven days to respond."
Keylet said this was incorrect. They added: "The vast majority of communication is sent electronically via email. The address in which we send the communication to is the address given to us at the time of the initial contract signing. The tenants can also raise a dispute with the TDS within three months from the tenancy end date if not satisfied."
They're nice as pie when carrying out inspections
Multiple students told us Keylet employees were "really nice" when carrying out exit inspections. One tenant said "they told us how clean it was and assured us we wouldn't be charged."
Another said, "the woman who did the exit inspection told us that our whole building would be renovated and we wouldn't be charged for any of it as it was just wear and tear."
Both of these tenants then had to dispute serious deductions to their deposit with Keylet.
Keylet told us this was incorrect, saying, "inventory staff are not trained to comment on the condition of the property as they do not know the history and are there to simply report their findings truthfully."
If you have experienced this personally, there are people you can contact
The Cardiff Tab spoke to Jenny Rathbone, Assembly Member for Cardiff Central, who has been involved in helping tenants in dispute with Keylet. In August she referred Keylet to Rent Smart Wales. She said:“I am more than happy to take up issues of bad practice by letting agents or landlords operating in Cardiff Central. Some of the allegations described involve a breach of the law. But I can only act when constituents provide me with the evidence in a timely fashion regarding specific instances. I encourage any tenant who thinks they have been treated unfairly or dishonestly to contact me.”
?Here are my upcoming surgeries for January and February. Get in touch with my office if you need more information: https://t.co/TzXTlFtTXy
— Jenny Rathbone AM (@JennyRathbone) January 8, 2020
One student who formerly rented with Keylet told us: "Keylet are a disgusting excuse of a business that uses lies and falsehoods to try steal what little money students have. Year after year I have seen my peers lose hundreds of pounds to false charges that are based on damages that were already present when they entered the property despite them listing it on the inventory. I had to collect loads of evidence and log stuff no normal student would think of to get TDS to give me most of the disputed amount."
Keylet added: "Tenants are advised throughout the dispute process that they have the option to refer this to the TDS for free impartial adjudication if they are not satisfied."