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Bingley Bloke

Deposit Not Protected And Not Returned Yet – Latest In A Catalogue Of Problems With Cowboy Landlord

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In February my partner and I rented a house directly from the landlord, i.e., not through an agent. When we viewed the property about a month before we moved in we noted the following problems…

Front door jamming against frame

Yale lock mechanism on front door stiff

Toilet seat broken

We were also informed by the landlord that the boiler was faulty but were assured that this and the other issues would be resolved before we moved in. He also pointed out that the microwave oven needed some folded cardboard to be jammed into the crack around the door as the catch was broken so it wouldn’t stay closed otherwise.

When we moved in none of the issues had been resolved and we also discovered that there was no TV aerial.

The microwave wouldn’t work at all as the absence of a functional closing mechanism for the door meant that the appliance didn’t register that the door was closed and as such wouldn’t work. After repeatedly pestering the landlord he finally took the microwave away so one of his mates at work could “have a look at it” and supplied a new toilet seat which I had to fit myself. We decided to provide our own microwave, realising, as the nature of his character became increasingly apparent, that we were unlikely to see the microwave belonging to the property ever again. The issues with the front door remained unresolved and the boiler took a total of six weeks from when we moved in to be fixed. During the time that the boiler was malfunctioning we had to run an excessive amount of water as we repeatedly had to step in and out of the shower while the temperature fluctuated between hot and cold. Similarly, when washing up, we had to keep moving the tap so that water was only pouring into the bowl during the warm phase of the temperature fluctuation cycle. Yorkshire Water then hit us with a bill for arrears of £86 which they told us was down to “above average water usage” and that they would recoup this by increasing our monthly water payment to more than double the original amount. We also ended up buying our own TV aerial as it was clear that the landlord wasn’t going to provide one. In July the Yale lock on the front door became so stiff that we started to worry that we might not be able to get into the house if we continued to use it, so we left it in the ‘unlocked’ configuration, potentially invalidating our household contents insurance. We informed the landlord and he told us he’d “have a look” when he “had time”. It was never attended to.

In September my partner lost her job so we gave notice to leave as we couldn’t afford to stay there on my wage alone. In one final insult, the landlord decided to have the window frames stripped and repainted – not during the two weeks between us leaving and the new tenant moving in – but over the weekend before we were due to move out. He sent another of his ‘friends’ round to do the work, opening the windows in the process and poisoning us with fumes from the burning-off of the paint with a blow torch and using electricity that we were paying for to power a sander. My partner had an asthma attack and I ended up with a throat so sore that I couldn’t speak for three days.

On 31 October we left the property having observed the correct notice period, leaving the property immaculately clean with all fixtures and fittings present and correct and nothing damaged. We met the landlord on the evening of 1 November to hand the keys over and he told us that he’d “have a look in daylight” and would get the deposit back to us if there were no problems.

At this point I started to investigate online to see how long, by law, a landlord has to return a deposit, having been prompted by a chance encounter with the previous tenant who told us it had taken eight weeks to get his deposit back. Having rented previously through a competent and reputable agent who were a pleasure to deal with I was aware that Tenancy Deposit Protection schemes exist, but had forgotten that the tenant should receive notice, within 14 days of commencement of an AST, as to which of the three available TDP schemes was being used by the landlord. At this point we realised that the landlord had never protected our deposit. Although landlords who fail to protect deposits can be ordered by the county court to repay it, along with a further sum equal to three times the deposit, it also transpires that this rule can only be enforced if the tenant is still a resident of the property by the time the court date is reached, so that’s no use to us as we vacated the property on 31 October.

So, where are we at?

Ten days after the tenancy ceased we still don’t have our deposit back, even though ten days is, as far as we can tell, the limit.

The landlord never protected the deposit and rules which we could use to scare him into returning it seem to be toothless as they don’t appear to apply after you’ve left the property.

I plan to e-mail him later today to remind him that it needs repaying, but knowing what he’s like I predict that he’ll say he hasn’t had time to inspect the property yet, hence the delay. Obviously his failure to do this within the relevant time frame is no concern of ours, is it?

Finally, we left the property in immaculate condition, but if he does try to withhold the deposit, or a part of it, but the new tenants have moved in, then surely such a claim on his part is void as we could argue that he can’t prove that the new tenant isn’t responsible for whatever spurious problem he’s relying on as his excuse for withholding our deposit.

Any advice?

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Bingley: check out the thread pinned to the top of the renting forum "Submitted N208 Claim For Deposit Non-Protection"

You need to take him to court for not protecting your deposit. Unfortunately due to a pretty outrageous decision of the Supreme Court recently , which drove a coach and horses through the legislation, you won't be able to get the specified fine of triple the deposit. However they did have the decency to say the landlord has to return the deposit with no deductions.

Alternatively you could take him to the small claims court in the standard way. However in that case he can argue for deductions for anything that seems reasonable and the fact the he broke the law may not carry any weight.

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Bingley: check out the thread pinned to the top of the renting forum "Submitted N208 Claim For Deposit Non-Protection"

I just read it. What a story! Personally I just want my deposit back – I don’t want things to get dirty as the guy knows our new address and has some pretty grubby looking associates so I don’t fancy waking up one morning to find our driveway containing two cars with slashed tyres.

Unfortunately due to a pretty outrageous decision of the Supreme Court recently , which drove a coach and horses through the legislation, you won't be able to get the specified fine of triple the deposit.

Do you have an official reference to that? All of the TDP scheme sites as well as Shelter and Directgov all still state that the 3 x deposit compensation applies. Surely they’d have changed the wording on their websites if the rules had changed?

As an aside, does anyone know where I can find it in writing how long landlords have to return deposits? It’s not very clear. The TDP sites vaguely mention that it should be returned within ten days, but it’s in among a lot of other text. I could do with a clear statement that I can reference in my next communication to the landlord.

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Do you have an official reference to that? All of the TDP scheme sites as well as Shelter and Directgov all still state that the 3 x deposit compensation applies. Surely they’d have changed the wording on their websites if the rules had changed?

The law hasn't changed but the Court of Appeal has rendered it almost useless:

The latest ruling is that the 3x deposit fine cannot be applied if the tennancy has already ended:

http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2011/05/eviscerated-now-also-drawn-and-quartered/

Previous rulings have stated that if the tennancy is still in effect then the landlord can protect the deposit at any point up to the court date.

http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2010/11/tenancy-deposit-protection-eviscerated/

Which basically makes the 3x fine pointless. For it to be applied the landlord has to be a total idiot and not register it even after begin taken to court, and the tenant has to take him to court whilst still in the property (generally you only worry about deposits once you're leaving!)

The only reason to register a deposit rather than chance your arm is that without it being registered, the landlord still can't evict a tenant using a section 21.

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All of what you say is irrelevent but why o why did you let them do work on the house when you were just about to leave, tell them to eff off in future (should you suffer such a LL again). The deposit is not protected so the LL must return it in full, send him a notice before proceedings letter, as the deposit is not protected the court will find in your favor should it proceed that far.

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/paying_for_a_home/tenancy_deposits/getting_an_unprotected_deposit_back/going_to_court

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Thanks gadget - This concurs with my suggestion, in my original post, that a tenant can't claim if the they have left the property before the court date. I did find something about this on the Shelter website but it was so well hidden that I couldn't find it a second time and I wondered if this limitation was now defunct as kaladorm's thread appeared to be recent enough as to suggest that you could still enforce TDP rules after leaving a property.

My main objective here is to ascertain the easiest way of ensuring that I get my deposit back. As I said, I wouldn't want to fleece the guy even if I could as he knows where I live and I have suspicions that either he, or one of his 'friends', may pay us a quiet overnight visit if I were to upset him.

All of what you say is irrelevent but why o why did you let them do work on the house when you were just about to leave

We weren't expecting the work to take quite the form that it did. He led us to believe that the window ledges were going to be sanded-down a bit and then repainted! Thanks for the link BTW.

Edited by Bingley Bloke

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