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salamander

Landlord Obtaining Part Of Deposit By Deception

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Apologies for the long post below, but I've been shafted by an ex-landlord for several hundred pounds and need advice on how to proceed. I've highlighted what I think are the key parts.

Back in August OH and myself ended a 3 year tenancy with a private landlord (he lived in the house before we moved in). There were a few things that needed attention so we were expecting a fair chunk of the deposit to be withheld.

One of the items he noted was for replacement curtains in the lounge - we'd washed them and they had shrunk by a few inches so no longer reached the floor. He requested £370 for replacements, claiming they were "severely &extensively damaged beyond economic (or possible) repair."

We agreed to all of the items he listed, and requested invoices and estimates, which we duly received. However, then he started demanding more money claiming that he had underestimated some items.

This went on for a while and things got quite heated until we eventually agreed on a figure between the original claim and what he now wanted, and had a verbal agreement that he would supply us with the old curtains - we didn't believe he would replace them because he was selling the house and the pictures on the Estate Agents website showed the old ones. In addition walk-by inspections seemed to confirm our suspicions.

Anyway, we sorted the money out through the DPS, though received no curtains and forgot about them until we heard from next door who had collected some (non-redirected) post for us, and we were also told that the sale of the house was going through that week.

This reminded me about the deal with the curtains so I sent an email to the landlord asking when he was planning to deliver the curtains. Heard nothing back and sent another email (texting him as a reminder to to read it) saying that he had 14 days to deliver the curtains or provide with us with £250 as partial compensation, after which we would pursue him for the full amount.

Again, nothing

Since then I've visited the house to give the new owners my phone number in case of more non-redirected post and while I was there established beyond doubt that the curtain are the ones we were billed for replacing.

His 14 days are up and I need some advice as to how to proceed (or if it's even worth bothering).

Current plan is to send him a registered letter (attaching the email I sent). Basically make sure he knows that we know he's not replaced the curtains and give him a further 14 days to pay up the full amount before we take further legal action, including possibly informing the police as his actions would seem to be consistent with obtaining money by deception.

So my questions are:

Is this actually worth bothering about at all ?

Does the proposed letter seem reasonable ?

Is there anything else worth considering ?

Any sensible responses will be much appreciated :)

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[/b] and had a verbal agreement that he would supply us with the old curtains

Hmmm... what do you think?

Walk away, mate. You've got no chance in enforcing this, and in any case why would you want some old shrunken up curtains anyway? I know you're p1ssed off at the landlord for ripping off your deposit, but the time to fight that was with the DPS before you agreed to hand the money over. It's too late now, move on and get on with your life.

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Hmmm... what do you think?

Walk away, mate. You've got no chance in enforcing this, and in any case why would you want some old shrunken up curtains anyway? I know you're p1ssed off at the landlord for ripping off your deposit, but the time to fight that was with the DPS before you agreed to hand the money over. It's too late now, move on and get on with your life.

I never wanted the curtains. I just wanted to make sure we weren't shafted, which it seems is what he planned to do.

Why is there no chance in proving fraud ? He's sent us documents claiming money for curtain replacements, and the split of the deposit (which will be known to the DPS) matches his claims in those documents. The curtains are most definitely still there, even though we've got documents demanding several hundred pound for their replacements.

Please explain what I'm missing and I'll drop it if it really is a lost cause.

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I never wanted the curtains. I just wanted to make sure we weren't shafted, which it seems is what he planned to do.

Why is there no chance in proving fraud ? He's sent us documents claiming money for curtain replacements, and the split of the deposit (which will be known to the DPS) matches his claims in those documents. The curtains are most definitely still there, even though we've got documents demanding several hundred pound for their replacements.

Please explain what I'm missing and I'll drop it if it really is a lost cause.

If it's fraud, then go to the police. Think of how difficult it would be to convince them to investigate - the photos, the undocumented agreements, the curtain shrinkage. Then sit in a darkened room with soothing music and forget about it.

This is a problem - maybe an outright rip off - but not every problem has a solution.

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If it's fraud, then go to the police. Think of how difficult it would be to convince them to investigate - the photos, the undocumented agreements, the curtain shrinkage. Then sit in a darkened room with soothing music and forget about it.

This is a problem - maybe an outright rip off - but not every problem has a solution.

I can see the potential problems with threatening him with the police if he won't play ball (as I'm sure he would work out very quickly). As you say, it would be difficult to get them interested and even more difficult to prove. Should have followed Little Professor's advice above and not submitted to the DPS until everything was fully sorted out.

[Edit] I guess any attempt to go through small claims court would have similar problems [EditEnd]

Lesson learnt I guess.

I need some cocoa now to calm me down for bed. Knew I shouldn't have posted this so late :(

Edited by salamander

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Have sent him one last "closure" email, saying I won't be pushing this further, and expressing deep disappointment in his dishonest behaviour, and in his refusal to acknowledge it. Should sting a bit - he likes to think of himself as "decent". Whether he reads it or not, I feel much better :)

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Have you considered taking him to Small Claims? I would be inclined to download the information (direct gov website is useful) on this. Draft a strongly worded letter to him saying you are proceeding to small claims, giving him 14 days to pay you this money, and then l would proceed. You don't need a solicitor to represent you, its very informal so nothing to worry about. I believe as long as the claim doesn't exceed £5,000 in total then this is the route, costs you about £50. Another alternative is you could go along and see your local CAB advisor (they are in the phone book, and again info on line), most bureaus have a housing advisor, who may even be able to act on your behalf, and there is no cost to you for their representation its free. You clearly feel very strongly about this, and l am inclined to agree with you. Good luck

quote name='salamander' timestamp='1296087952' post='2871525']

Apologies for the long post below, but I've been shafted by an ex-landlord for several hundred pounds and need advice on how to proceed. I've highlighted what I think are the key parts.

Back in August OH and myself ended a 3 year tenancy with a private landlord (he lived in the house before we moved in). There were a few things that needed attention so we were expecting a fair chunk of the deposit to be withheld.

One of the items he noted was for replacement curtains in the lounge - we'd washed them and they had shrunk by a few inches so no longer reached the floor. He requested £370 for replacements, claiming they were "severely &extensively damaged beyond economic (or possible) repair."

We agreed to all of the items he listed, and requested invoices and estimates, which we duly received. However, then he started demanding more money claiming that he had underestimated some items.

This went on for a while and things got quite heated until we eventually agreed on a figure between the original claim and what he now wanted, and had a verbal agreement that he would supply us with the old curtains - we didn't believe he would replace them because he was selling the house and the pictures on the Estate Agents website showed the old ones. In addition walk-by inspections seemed to confirm our suspicions.

Anyway, we sorted the money out through the DPS, though received no curtains and forgot about them until we heard from next door who had collected some (non-redirected) post for us, and we were also told that the sale of the house was going through that week.

This reminded me about the deal with the curtains so I sent an email to the landlord asking when he was planning to deliver the curtains. Heard nothing back and sent another email (texting him as a reminder to to read it) saying that he had 14 days to deliver the curtains or provide with us with £250 as partial compensation, after which we would pursue him for the full amount.

Again, nothing

Since then I've visited the house to give the new owners my phone number in case of more non-redirected post and while I was there established beyond doubt that the curtain are the ones we were billed for replacing.

His 14 days are up and I need some advice as to how to proceed (or if it's even worth bothering).

Current plan is to send him a registered letter (attaching the email I sent). Basically make sure he knows that we know he's not replaced the curtains and give him a further 14 days to pay up the full amount before we take further legal action, including possibly informing the police as his actions would seem to be consistent with obtaining money by deception.

So my questions are:

Is this actually worth bothering about at all ?

Does the proposed letter seem reasonable ?

Is there anything else worth considering ?

Any sensible responses will be much appreciated :)

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Have sent him one last "closure" email, saying I won't be pushing this further, and expressing deep disappointment in his dishonest behaviour, and in his refusal to acknowledge it. Should sting a bit - he likes to think of himself as "decent". Whether he reads it or not, I feel much better :)

Shame, would have been no harm in sending a final demand for payment with the threat of police action (which you actually didn't intend to follow through). Might have worked, might not, but would have been worth a try.

Now, unless your final letter guilt trips him into coughing up, I'd probably give it about 6 months to cover your tracks, then slash the tyres on his car in the dead of night! That should cost him roughly the same amount that he's ripped you off for plus plenty of inconvenience too. B)

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Have you considered taking him to Small Claims? I would be inclined to download the information (direct gov website is useful) on this. Draft a strongly worded letter to him saying you are proceeding to small claims, giving him 14 days to pay you this money, and then l would proceed. You don't need a solicitor to represent you, its very informal so nothing to worry about. I believe as long as the claim doesn't exceed £5,000 in total then this is the route, costs you about £50. Another alternative is you could go along and see your local CAB advisor (they are in the phone book, and again info on line), most bureaus have a housing advisor, who may even be able to act on your behalf, and there is no cost to you for their representation its free. You clearly feel very strongly about this, and l am inclined to agree with you. Good luck

Thanks for your response. Small claims was my initial thought but as others have pointed out it may be difficult to prove the validity of any claim. I think this has gone on long enough now, given how agitated I became last night just thinking about it, hence my "closure" email. Hopefully it will haunt him for longer than any other course of action.

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Shame, would have been no harm in sending a final demand for payment with the threat of police action (which you actually didn't intend to follow through). Might have worked, might not, but would have been worth a try.

Now, unless your final letter guilt trips him into coughing up, I'd probably give it about 6 months to cover your tracks, then slash the tyres on his car in the dead of night! That should cost him roughly the same amount that he's ripped you off for plus plenty of inconvenience too. B)

I agree it might have been worth a try but, the reality is it would likely only have prolonged the stress for OH and myself. I'd probably end up feeling worse if he called my bluff and I backed down - would leave the power very much with him. I think my guilt-trip letter is the appropriate course of action. Even if he doesn't cough up I feel much better in taking the moral high-ground with him on this as I have no doubts on my position in this respect. I doubt he'll be able to argue that either, to himself at least, which is the point.

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Typical thieving landlord scum. Now that that's off my chest....

First of all, this is NOT a criminal matter. This should be pursued through the county courts as a small claim. I would say you have a fairly strong case. I presume you still have the paperwork from the Tenancy Deposit dispute, where your landlord has provided an invoice or estimate for replacement curtains. You should also get a statement from the new owners of the property attesting to the fact that the curtains were in the property when they bought it. You should also take some pictures (if the curtains are still up) and have those pictures form part of the statement from the new owners.

Then, get yourself a small claim form from the local county court and get started. Oh, before all that, be sure to send your ex-landlord a letter about this issue, stating that unless he returns the money you will start a small claim. This won't convince him, of course, but the small claims judge will want to see some evidence that you attempted to sort out the matter before resorting to the courts. If you don't show such evidence, the judge will still find in your favour, but he may not include the costs of your claim in the amount the landlord has to pay.

Just thought of a caveat - isn't it possible that the landlord did indeed buy new curtains but then took those new curtains out of the flat before it was sold? They may be somewhere else.

(By the way, get your address sorted out at your bank, etc. Whenever I move into a new place I keep the old resident's post for the first month, and then throw it away, along with any new post!)

Edited by MacGuffin

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Thanks for your response. Small claims was my initial thought but as others have pointed out it may be difficult to prove the validity of any claim. I think this has gone on long enough now, given how agitated I became last night just thinking about it, hence my "closure" email. Hopefully it will haunt him for longer than any other course of action.

It will be much less difficult to prove the validity of a small claim (a 'balance of probabilities' standard of proof) than it would be to proceed with a criminal case (which is decided on a 'beyond all reasonable doubt' basis). I would say you have a fairly strong case for a small claim.

Don't get agitated, get busy (on the small claim).

A pethetic mewing email will not 'haunt' anyone; it will just make him laugh. Hit him where it hurts --> in the wallet.

Edited by MacGuffin

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Typical thieving landlord scum. Now that that's off my chest....

First of all, this is NOT a criminal matter. This should be pursued through the county courts as a small claim. I would say you have a fairly strong case. I presume you still have the paperwork from the Tenancy Deposit dispute, where your landlord has provided an invoice or estimate for replacement curtains. You should also get a statement from the new owners of the property attesting to the fact that the curtains were in the property when they bought it. You should also take some pictures (if the curtains are still up) and have those pictures form part of the statement from the new owners.

Then, get yourself a small claim form from the local county court and get started. Oh, before all that, be sure to send your ex-landlord a letter about this issue, stating that unless he returns the money you will start a small claim. This won't convince him, of course, but the small claims judge will want to see some evidence that you attempted to sort out the matter before resorting to the courts. If you don't show such evidence, the judge will still find in your favour, but he may not include the costs of your claim in the amount the landlord has to pay.

Just thought of a caveat - isn't it possible that the landlord did indeed buy new curtains but then took those new curtains out of the flat before it was sold? They may be somewhere else.

(By the way, get your address sorted out at your bank, etc. Whenever I move into a new place I keep the old resident's post for the first month, and then throw it away, along with any new post!)

I agree he's scum.

I have everything I need apart from proof that the curtains are still in place. His original sale fell through so the new buyers may have veiwed after we moved out. Even assuming we could persuade them to be involved I'm not sure that would be enough - he might be able to argue that he found " the best replacements he could" and put them in place before they viewed

I'll have a think about whether to proceed (perhaps "my OH" could take action - the email was from me only...) but I need to get on with some work now!

Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. Will check in this evening

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I agree it might have been worth a try but, the reality is it would likely only have prolonged the stress for OH and myself. I'd probably end up feeling worse if he called my bluff and I backed down - would leave the power very much with him. I think my guilt-trip letter is the appropriate course of action. Even if he doesn't cough up I feel much better in taking the moral high-ground with him on this as I have no doubts on my position in this respect. I doubt he'll be able to argue that either, to himself at least, which is the point.

Fair enough. Still. if you still feel you haven't got full closure, there's nothing stopping you from taking it out on his car once the dust had settled. ;)

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If it's fraud, then go to the police.

No it is not.

There is nothing at all wrong, in law, with receiving a compensation payment for some for damage caused and then using the money to do something other than replacing the items that were damaged.

The only thing that the LL has done wrong is to breach the agreement with the Tenant that he would make such a replacement. But that is a civil contract matter which the police will (rightly IMHO) not be the slightest bit interested in.

tim

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Salamander,

I've used the small claims court against LL's several times and it's worked very well each time.

The burden of proof isn't like a trial at the High Court. I've been involved with an action there but not LL related so had plenty of time to compare the two processes.

The small claims court in my area (central London) is small, informal and decided on the balance of probabilities. You do not need to prove your case beyond a shadow of a doubt. The judge is very sensible and understanding. We just sat around a table and it was not a stressful situation. You do not need a lawyer and attempts by my LL's in the past to use a lawyer to intimidate me have not met with approval there.

You have enough evidence to start your claim. In my cases most LL's crumbled and paid up after they were served the papers. Very few have actually made it to the court date and of those very few LL's actually appear to defend the claim - and few provide an adequate defense. It's a huge shock to them and in my cases, they have always paid after.

They go from having enormous power to upset, patronise and unsettle tenants to having to appear in court to explain their actions. Few can actually face this.

If I was in your position I would first, calm down and stop letting him get to you. That's easier said than done I know. I was lucky in that my partner pointed out to me that our problem LL's enjoyed the drama and enjoyed upsetting me. So in the end I stopped getting upset.

Then I would

1. Write a letter to the LL, give him the facts only, give him 7/14 days to respond. Send as a registered letter. Keep all records.

2. Refuse to take any phone calls from or get into arguments/ dramas. Step back

3. Write a second letter in the mean time explaining that his 7/14 days are up and that you will start legal proceedings in the SCC court in 7 days and that he will be responsible for paying all the fees if the judgment is in your favour.

4. Post it after his 7/14 days are up. Registered as before

5. Start a small claims action. Keep all your submissions short, factual and unemotional. Keep all evidence. Don't worry.

I really do wish you the best of luck.

Edited by Flopsy

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After hearing not a peep after after my email sent 2 weeks ago I got an immediate response (i.e. today) from the ex-landlord to the email I sent last night.

Apparently he didn't respond to my previous email "immediately" because it was "unnecessarily insulting and confrontational" (it was assertive but neither insulting nor confrontational) but had nevertheless, by a remarkable coincidence, sent out a response by post today, even though I had made it clear I was not interested in taking things further in the email I sent yesterday (!).

It looks like I might have touched a nerve by relating my opinions on his levels of integrity in last night's email, a nerve apparently untouched by "insults" and "confrontation", although I have to admit there is the possibility he sent the letter out before he got to work and my email :rolleyes:

I await the letter with interest, though I have to be honest, I'm not exactly expecting a big fat cheque to fall out :lol: He made it clear in the email that he won't be contacting me again so whatever the contents, hopefully that will be an end to it.

Will post again if there is anything of interest in the letter. Otherwise, thanks again for all the advice and comments.

[Edit - written before Flopsy's post appeared above]

Edited by salamander

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Salamander,

I've used the small claims court against LL's several times and it's worked very well each time.

The burden of proof isn't like a trial at the High Court. I've been involved with an action there but not LL related so had plenty of time to compare the two processes.

The small claims court in my area (central London) is small, informal and decided on the balance of probabilities. You do not need to prove your case beyond a shadow of a doubt. The judge is very sensible and understanding. We just sat around a table and it was not a stressful situation. You do not need a lawyer and attempts by my LL's in the past to use a lawyer to intimidate me have not met with approval there.

You have enough evidence to start your claim. In my cases most LL's crumbled and paid up after they were served the papers. Very few have actually made it to the court date and of those very few LL's actually appear to defend the claim - and few provide an adequate defense. It's a huge shock to them and in my cases, they have always paid after.

They go from having enormous power to upset, patronise and unsettle tenants to having to appear in court to explain their actions. Few can actually face this.

If I was in your position I would first, calm down and stop letting him get to you. That's easier said than done I know. I was lucky in that my partner pointed out to me that our problem LL's enjoyed the drama and enjoyed upsetting me. So in the end I stopped getting upset.

Then I would

1. Write a letter to the LL, give him the facts only, give him 7/14 days to respond. Send as a registered letter. Keep all records.

2. Refuse to take any phone calls from or get into arguments/ dramas. Step back

3. Write a second letter in the mean time explaining that his 7/14 days are up and that you will start legal proceedings in the SCC court in 7 days and that he will be responsible for paying all the fees if the judgment is in your favour.

4. Post it after his 7/14 days are up. Registered as before

5. Start a small claims action. Keep all your submissions short, factual and unemotional. Keep all evidence. Don't worry.

I really do wish you the best of luck.

Thanks Flopsy. Much appreciated.

The email I sent 2 weeks ago was pretty much exactly as the first you described. Maybe I gave up too easily in following through with stage 2. However, my OH has made no such commitment so a claim could be pursued without me going back on anything I have said ;)

Will check out his letter and decide where (if anywhere) to go from there.

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Update:

Letter from ex-landlord(s wife) arrived today.

Apparently they weren't expecting to deliver the curtains (despite our verbal agreement) because they weren't included in the written agreement relating to the split of the deposit. They were, "filthy, shrunken and couldn't be pressed flat", though they were evidently considered good enough for the purchasers of the house.

However.... as a "goodwill gesture" they did actually send us a cheque (!)

Is only for £100 pounds, which apparently is "well in excess of the value of the curtains" (they were supposed to deliver to us), but nonetheless is an admission of guilt, is money in the bank and is good enough for me.

I know i could pursue this further but to be perfectly honest, I really wasn't expecting anything at all from them. So long as the cheque doesn't bounce, I consider this a victory and OH is in agreement.

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Update:

Letter from ex-landlord(s wife) arrived today.

Apparently they weren't expecting to deliver the curtains (despite our verbal agreement) because they weren't included in the written agreement relating to the split of the deposit. They were, "filthy, shrunken and couldn't be pressed flat", though they were evidently considered good enough for the purchasers of the house.

However.... as a "goodwill gesture" they did actually send us a cheque (!)

Is only for £100 pounds, which apparently is "well in excess of the value of the curtains" (they were supposed to deliver to us), but nonetheless is an admission of guilt, is money in the bank and is good enough for me.

I know i could pursue this further but to be perfectly honest, I really wasn't expecting anything at all from them. So long as the cheque doesn't bounce, I consider this a victory and OH is in agreement.

Well done! now bank the cheque.

Write a letter to the Inland Revenue highlighting the total rent paid plus extras, the name and address of your landlord, and the address you rented.

CC your landlord in.

At the least it will make him sweat.....

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Good stuff Salamander, I know what you mean about the stress of prolonging the process. Glad that you got something out of them. Hope that you can forget all of this. If you need the Small Claims Court in the future please do not hesitate to use it. The informality and friendliness made it a good place for me.

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put a f*cking brick through his window, slash the tyres and pour paint stripper over the bodywork.

... revenge is a dish best served cold.

Edited by jfk

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No it is not.

There is nothing at all wrong, in law, with receiving a compensation payment for some for damage caused and then using the money to do something other than replacing the items that were damaged.

The only thing that the LL has done wrong is to breach the agreement with the Tenant that he would make such a replacement. But that is a civil contract matter which the police will (rightly IMHO) not be the slightest bit interested in.

tim

in order to claim compensation, the LL has to prove a loss.

In this case, he hasnt made a loss, indeed, provided false evidence as to the loss...the invoice for replacement curtains.

There is a prima facia evidence of fraud, but I would make a claim to the small claims court using the same evidence.

The idea of the deposit is to put the landlord back to where he was at the start of the tenancy less wear and tear.

This landlord has claimed for damage to curtains....and the loss he incurred....well, he hasnt made a loss, indeed, he has gained at the tenant's expense and done so by submitting a false claim.

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