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Lettings Agent Holding Back On Returning Deposit - What Can We Do?


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We moved out from a rental property on 18th December and the agent has not returned any of our deposit and appear to be fobbing us off. They are saying we left paint in the shower tray and are in the process of costing this up before they return any of our money. We are disputing the paint and have made it clear a number of times that we are more than happy for it to go to arbitration. However, each time we mail them or call them about it we get an email saying the same thing regarding costing the damage up. This has been going on since before xmas! We are starting to feel a bit uneasy and really don't know what to do next? Can anyone advise please?

By the way, the paint in question was in the shower tray when we moved in but we did not make a note of it on the inventory as it had no mention of the shower tray at all. We have pointed this out to the agent and informed them that we have not done any painting in the house so can only assume the paint was a by-product of redecoration in the past (it's the same colour as the bathroom ceiling after all). The inventory was very inaccurate in places, describing many items as brand new, getting the colour of items wrong and omitting many major marks/damage to furnishings. I had to update it with one A4 page of notes but we have still been stung!

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We moved out from a rental property on 18th December and the agent has not returned any of our deposit and appear to be fobbing us off. They are saying we left paint in the shower tray and are in the process of costing this up before they return any of our money. We are disputing the paint and have made it clear a number of times that we are more than happy for it to go to arbitration. However, each time we mail them or call them about it we get an email saying the same thing regarding costing the damage up. This has been going on since before xmas! We are starting to feel a bit uneasy and really don't know what to do next? Can anyone advise please?

By the way, the paint in question was in the shower tray when we moved in but we did not make a note of it on the inventory as it had no mention of the shower tray at all. We have pointed this out to the agent and informed them that we have not done any painting in the house so can only assume the paint was a by-product of redecoration in the past (it's the same colour as the bathroom ceiling after all). The inventory was very inaccurate in places, describing many items as brand new, getting the colour of items wrong and omitting many major marks/damage to furnishings. I had to update it with one A4 page of notes but we have still been stung!

Sorry to sound less than supportive, but either an inventory or a schedule of condition should always be treated as a trap for the unwary, since it's always going to be almost impossible to disprove when the lease ends. I always work on the premise that anything that requires my signature could cost me dear unless thoroughly checked and challenged where necessary.

But you should still challenge it anyway, and good luck - def. keep pressing for arbitration. I assume that your tenancy started before the Tenants Deposit Scheme came into being, otherwise if your landlord never registered and placed the deposit money into an authorised scheme, it's him that will be wishing he'd done a bit more reading when the court makes him pay you back 3 times your deposit.

Good luck !

Edited by johnny5thumbs
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Have you got TDS involved yet, Dougal? That's what it's there for (assuming the deposit was registered).

Deposit is registered, but how long should we give the agent to come back with their costings? Can't really go to the dispute service until we know what the agent wants to deduct? TDS site says the following:

Dispute Information
  • If the landlord or the tenants(s) are unhappy about the amount of deposit being returned to them, they should try their best to reach agreement before referring the case to TDS. The Independent Case Examiner will only adjudicate in cases where there has been a reasonable attempt by the landlord and the tenants to reach a decision, assisted by the agent (if there is one).
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We moved out from a rental property on 18th December and the agent has not returned any of our deposit and appear to be fobbing us off. They are saying we left paint in the shower tray and are in the process of costing this up before they return any of our money. We are disputing the paint and have made it clear a number of times that we are more than happy for it to go to arbitration. However, each time we mail them or call them about it we get an email saying the same thing regarding costing the damage up. This has been going on since before xmas! We are starting to feel a bit uneasy and really don't know what to do next? Can anyone advise please?

By the way, the paint in question was in the shower tray when we moved in but we did not make a note of it on the inventory as it had no mention of the shower tray at all. We have pointed this out to the agent and informed them that we have not done any painting in the house so can only assume the paint was a by-product of redecoration in the past (it's the same colour as the bathroom ceiling after all). The inventory was very inaccurate in places, describing many items as brand new, getting the colour of items wrong and omitting many major marks/damage to furnishings. I had to update it with one A4 page of notes but we have still been stung!

Advice for the future: I got stung like this once. After that experience I now photograph every mark and scratch before moving in (digital pictures are cheap.) I then note on the inventory (on the same page as my signature) that I have provided the agent with a CD copy of the photos. I also post a registered copy to myself in a sealed package (to get a date stamp). I leave this package unopened. It sounds paranoid, but it really does shut them up when they start trying it on. Sad that one has to behave this way, but a little initial inconvenience saves a whole heap of distress later on.

Also, on check out inventories I always put lines and initiails at the end of of any comments and sign everypage and note this on the signature page. I started doing this after catching a checkout agent writing stuff into the checkout inventory in her car outside the house after I had already signed it. Silly bint would have gotten away with it if she had driven a hundred yards down the road.

It's not that all LLs and LAs are bad. I've had a couple of very good ones in my time. One of my previous LLs is now a very good friend (good enough to fly at her own expense from the UK to Oz for my wedding.) But some I have had dealings with are just plain scum with crooked behaviour that is just beyond imagination, leaving you shaking your head that people can be so dishonorable.

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Well, it sounds like you don't think the landlord has cause to withhold any of the deposit, so what have you been waiting for? Send them a short and to-the-point letter saying that unless that full deposit is returned within one week, you will be contacting the scheme with which your deposit is held, in order to start the dispute resolution process.

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Well, it sounds like you don't think the landlord has cause to withhold any of the deposit, so what have you been waiting for? Send them a short and to-the-point letter saying that unless that full deposit is returned within one week, you will be contacting the scheme with which your deposit is held, in order to start the dispute resolution process.

+1

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Thanks for everyone's responses, much appreciated!

An update for you all:

I called the agent this morning to find out when I could expect to hear how much of the deposit they were going to withhold. Initially, I spoke to a chap who said he had my file in front of him but was not able to tell me anything. He wanted to take my number and get someone to call me back, so I said I didn't mind holding until the person was available. He said that wasn't possible, so I explained that it had been more than 10 working days since our tenancy ended but we had yet to receive any response on how much of our deposit they intended to keep. I then mentioned going to the dispute service to get a resolution. At this point, he transfered me to someone else (manager I presume) who told me an email had been sent out on Friday (it hadn't) detailing the costing of cleaning the paint (£25). I said we'd be wanting the TDS involved to arbitrate. Told to put that in writing and they will then contact the TDS. When I came off the phone, low and behold the missing email arrived in my inbox! I have replied and confirmed I want the TDS involved and asked when the undisputed amount will arrive in my bank account.

I will update this thread as things progress. Will be interesting to see how the TDS resolve this as there is no evidence either way regarding whether the paint was there or not when we moved in. Does anyone know if they are landlord or tenant bias in these cases?

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I said we'd be wanting the TDS involved to arbitrate. Told to put that in writing and they will then contact the TDS. When I came off the phone, low and behold the missing email arrived in my inbox! I have replied and confirmed I want the TDS involved and asked when the undisputed amount will arrive in my bank account.

I will update this thread as things progress. Will be interesting to see how the TDS resolve this as there is no evidence either way regarding whether the paint was there or not when we moved in. Does anyone know if they are landlord or tenant bias in these cases?

Don't ask them to get the TDS involved, do it yourself. They clearly won't bother - you must push. If you are unsure of the procedure check the website or give them a call. My dealings with TDS has just been to check the deposit was there or not, but they were all friendly, professional and helpful. You'd lose nothing by contacting. My understanding (from what I have read on the internet) is that they are generally sympathetic to the tenant but it will depend on the evidence supplied. The LA will need to prove that the paint wasn't there before, that it is your fault and that it costs £25 to resolve. Otherwise you should win.

Anyway, best of luck

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Don't ask them to get the TDS involved, do it yourself. They clearly won't bother - you must push. If you are unsure of the procedure check the website or give them a call. My dealings with TDS has just been to check the deposit was there or not, but they were all friendly, professional and helpful. You'd lose nothing by contacting. My understanding (from what I have read on the internet) is that they are generally sympathetic to the tenant but it will depend on the evidence supplied. The LA will need to prove that the paint wasn't there before, that it is your fault and that it costs £25 to resolve. Otherwise you should win.

Anyway, best of luck

+1

The LA are just stalling for time by saying they will contact the TDS. THEY WONT. Do it yourself, it's easy and they are very helpful.

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And another thing - always always always remember it is your money. Not theirs, yours. Never refer to the deposit as the deposit (it is far too neutral a term). Refer to it when dealing with the LA as your money. As in "Why are you spending my money?" "When are you giving me my money back?" "What is the delay in returning my money?"

Be civil, polite - but don't take any crap and be firm. You pay their wages. Remember that. Don't accept the attitude common to so many LA and LLs that you are the ungrateful recipient of their charity. You are not. You are paying for a service which they are supplying. They need to sharpen up or suffer the consequences.

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By the way Dougal, you really should contact the TDS yourself. Let them know that the tenancy ended over a month ago, and that the LL/LA are dragging their feet. They will be very helpful. Stop relying on the LA to drive the process, because you know they are just going to waste time.

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Here is what you must do, and must do ASAP

Write both the LL and Letting Agent a letter stating that you moved out on on whatever date, it has been more than ten working days since you moved out and have only just received notice of inventory deduction (attach copy of email with date/time stamp).

Then give them two weeks to pay you the undisputed amount in full

Send this special delivery to both

Realistically your main problem is getting back the bulk of your deposit, and TDS not interested unless you sent this letter.

Keep on stressing that you will dispute everything.

This letter worked for us:

Sent Special Delivery to <Put names of everyone you’re sending too here>

<Your Current Address>

<Todays Date>

Re: Deposit for Flat <Address/Postcode>

Dear <Letting Agent and Managing Agent and Landlord>

Letter Before Action

Our tenancy of the above property ended on <end date> with check-out on that date. Thirteen working days have elapsed since this date and we have not yet received the deposit (£XXX) nor been informed of any proposed deductions.

The contract agreed between us and you stipulates that “the agent must tell the Tenant within 10 working days of the end of the tenancy if they intend to make any deductions from the deposit” (Clause 5.4(i)). In this regard, we believe that you are in breach of contract. We are advised that failing to follow this contractual requirement will not be favourable to you should a dispute arise with the TDS.

The check out report advises property was returned to you in very good condition. Given you have not raised any concerns with us, we therefore require repayment of the deposit to arrive no later than 14 days of your receipt of this letter.

Should a dispute arise between us and you regarding deductions, the amount in dispute should be lodged with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme administrator. Additionally, in event of a dispute, the onus is on you to prove that you justifiably withheld deposit monies and, in any event, you should provide a schedule of dilapidations, written quotes and invoices for work.

If we receive no satisfactory reply by 14 days from receipt of this letter, we will instigate a claim process for the outstanding money and if necessary we will begin court action for recovery of our deposit without further warning.

We look forward to hearing from you within 14 days.

Yours faithfully,

YOU

Schedule of events:

19/10/09 - Tenancy ended and check-out completed

04/11/09 - Check-out report received by tenants by email from XXX

05/11/09 – Letter before action delivered to XXX

Edited by monkyA
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Here is what you must do, and must do ASAP

Write both the LL and Letting Agent a letter stating that you moved out on on whatever date, it has been more than ten working days since you moved out and have only just received notice of inventory deduction (attach copy of email with date/time stamp).

Then give them two weeks to pay you the undisputed amount in full

Send this special delivery to both

Realistically your main problem is getting back the bulk of your deposit, and TDS not interested unless you sent this letter.

Keep on stressing that you will dispute everything.

This letter worked for us:

Sent Special Delivery to <Put names of everyone you’re sending too here>

<Your Current Address>

<Todays Date>

Re: Deposit for Flat <Address/Postcode>

Dear <Letting Agent and Managing Agent and Landlord>

Letter Before Action

Our tenancy of the above property ended on <end date> with check-out on that date. Thirteen working days have elapsed since this date and we have not yet received the deposit (£XXX) nor been informed of any proposed deductions.

The contract agreed between us and you stipulates that “the agent must tell the Tenant within 10 working days of the end of the tenancy if they intend to make any deductions from the deposit” (Clause 5.4(i)). In this regard, we believe that you are in breach of contract. We are advised that failing to follow this contractual requirement will not be favourable to you should a dispute arise with the TDS.

The check out report advises property was returned to you in very good condition. Given you have not raised any concerns with us, we therefore require repayment of the deposit to arrive no later than 14 days of your receipt of this letter.

Should a dispute arise between us and you regarding deductions, the amount in dispute should be lodged with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme administrator. Additionally, in event of a dispute, the onus is on you to prove that you justifiably withheld deposit monies and, in any event, you should provide a schedule of dilapidations, written quotes and invoices for work.

If we receive no satisfactory reply by 14 days from receipt of this letter, we will instigate a claim process for the outstanding money and if necessary we will begin court action for recovery of our deposit without further warning.

We look forward to hearing from you within 14 days.

Yours faithfully,

YOU

Schedule of events:

19/10/09 - Tenancy ended and check-out completed

04/11/09 - Check-out report received by tenants by email from XXX

05/11/09 – Letter before action delivered to XXX

That is perfect, good post, the amount seems painfully trivial, suspect the LL insured the deposit and did not place it in the LA scheme and probably does not have the cash to give back. You must speak to the TDS people as well. Finally as other posted suggested, they will need proof that you split the paint which I very much doubt they have, why on earth would you be painting the bathroom anyway

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  • 2 weeks later...

An update for you all:

A couple of weeks ago we recieved the undisputed amount back into our accout and the letting agent agreed to involve the dispute service to resolve the remaining £25. Today we recieved an email:

Dear Mr Dougal and Miss Dougal

Further to your wish to dispute the £25.00 invoice for removing paint from the shower tray.

We do believe the landlady has a case for dispute, however as the administration costs in referring the matter to the TDS are high we have taken the decision to refund this to you instead.

This amount has been transferred to your account today.

Kind regards

[]

Lettings Manager / Director

It took them 2 weeks to realise the admin costs were 'high'? More likely they realised they had no evidence to submit or the dispute service told them they had insufficent evidence from the outset. Note there is no apology to us though, they still maintain it was our fault!

:lol:

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An update for you all:

A couple of weeks ago we recieved the undisputed amount back into our accout and the letting agent agreed to involve the dispute service to resolve the remaining £25. Today we recieved an email:

It took them 2 weeks to realise the admin costs were 'high'? More likely they realised they had no evidence to submit or the dispute service told them they had insufficent evidence from the outset. Note there is no apology to us though, they still maintain it was our fault!

:lol:

Well done for disputing it and winning, though. It will take a few years, I think, for landlords and letting agents to understand that there is no point raising these ridiculous little issues that they used to in the past.

Spend the £25 wisely. Spend it on champagne.

Edited by MacGuffin
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  • 444 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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