Jump to content
House Price Crash Forum

Do I Cash The Cheque?


Recommended Posts

I'm looking for some quick advice on what is developing into a Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme dispute with my old letting agent.

I ended my tenancy at end of last month. The place was left in a very good condition, certainly equal or better than the state I recieved . I took photographs and checked things off against the inventory, which was quite a flimsy document scoring the state of furniture and fittings on a subjective 1-5 scale with little more detail. I expected full deposit back.

A deduction was levied relating to “1 Bed Full Clean” and “Clean Lounge Carpet” which does not appear justified according to evidence I hold regarding the condition of the flat at handover. Nor is such cleaning expected in the contract. The matress was kept in a protector for 3 years and the carpet was in a fine clean condition. I suspect the letting agent is trying it on, perhaps thinking Im too busy to contest (I am, but also, Im angry enough to find the time). This seems, at best, like a claim for wear and tear, whioh legally is not my problem (I stayed for 3 years in last place) and, at worst, a cynical attempt to take circa £200 off my deposit.

To make matters worse, only 2 days later the letting agent posted a cheque refunding the reduced amount. Giving no opportunity to dispute the charges.

My question is : I will be contesting this deduction, but should I cash the cheque for the reduced amount, or should I wait until the dispute process has taken place?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm looking for some quick advice on what is developing into a Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme dispute with my old letting agent.

I ended my tenancy at end of last month. The place was left in a very good condition, certainly equal or better than the state I recieved . I took photographs and checked things off against the inventory, which was quite a flimsy document scoring the state of furniture and fittings on a subjective 1-5 scale with little more detail. I expected full deposit back.

A deduction was levied relating to “1 Bed Full Clean” and “Clean Lounge Carpet” which does not appear justified according to evidence I hold regarding the condition of the flat at handover. Nor is such cleaning expected in the contract. The matress was kept in a protector for 3 years and the carpet was in a fine clean condition. I suspect the letting agent is trying it on, perhaps thinking Im too busy to contest (I am, but also, Im angry enough to find the time). This seems, at best, like a claim for wear and tear, whioh legally is not my problem (I stayed for 3 years in last place) and, at worst, a cynical attempt to take circa £200 off my deposit.

To make matters worse, only 2 days later the letting agent posted a cheque refunding the reduced amount. Giving no opportunity to dispute the charges.

My question is : I will be contesting this deduction, but should I cash the cheque for the reduced amount, or should I wait until the dispute process has taken place?

I'm not a legal expert but in my business, when I have had to deal with situations like this I will normally cash what has been sent and then send a letter saying somethign along the lines of 'thank you for this interim payment, the balance outstanding is now...."

If it goes on much longer I say I will give them 14 days to pay or will pursue them in the small claims court - in your case the deposit protection thingy.

Cash it and pursue the rest of it is my advice but maybe seek advice from a local shelter representative or CAB if they aren't falling over yet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it was a mistake for them to send the cheque, usually holding the cash is how they get people to roll over with the thought that 'at least I'm getting most of it back, they could have done worse'. I'd take the money, I doubt their is any law that stipulates acceptance of a cheque means you agree the amount. In fact how do they release the funds before the amount is agreed by you both anyway? I thought the Tds prevented it.

I'd take the cheque, and then you are free to dispute the rest without the threat that they might not return anything. You've nothing to lose.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In fact how do they release the funds before the amount is agreed by you both anyway? I thought the Tds prevented it.

The way TDS is supposed to work is the landlord returns the undisputed part of the deposit within 10 days of the end of the tenancy (same deadline as if the entire deposit was being returned) then the tenant files a dispute for the remainder.

Edited by Dorkins
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The way TDS is supposed to work is the landlord returns the undisputed part of the deposit within 10 days of the end of the tenancy (same deadline as if the entire deposit was being returned) then the tenant files a dispute for the remainder.

Thanks- this is very helpful. I looked on the TDS website but couldnt find the appropriate section anywhere.

Seems universal advice is cash the cheque and persue them for the rest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally, I wouldn't cash the cheque just yet.

It sounds to me like the process hasn't been 100% correctly followed by the agent.

I'm with the TPS scheme currently, having previously got back my full deposit (and interest!) via DPS.

From my TPS T&Cs:

Procedure for Dispute at the End of the Tenancy

A.2.1

When the landlord and tenant agree how the deposit should be returned, in full or in part, it must be paid back within 10 working days. Failure to return the deposit within the specified period will be grounds for the tenant to refer the matter directly to the Independent Case Examiner (“ICE”).

A.2.3

The tenants should make their best endeavours to inform the Agent if they wish to raise a dispute about the deposit within 20 working days* after the lawful end of the tenancy and vacation of the property. The Agent has a maximum of 10 working days* to resolve the dispute.

* These time scales can be changed by agreement with the tenant in individual cases or by the contract used as standard by the agent.

It sounds like you haven't been involved in any discussion, let alone agreement so far.

However, the 20 working days to raise a dispute might nearly be up - but the 20 days might be irrelevant if they have not followed correct procedures.

Edited by BarnetBear
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A rental agent tried to get us to take a reduced deposit back but this was a tenancy started before the TDS system. I took legal advice. We were told to cash the cheque but to write to them explaining that we accepted it as an interim payment and we had not accepted it as full and final payment. That was the gist anyway, there was some more legalise language we were told but I'm sorry it was so long ago I have forgotten it.

Edited by Flopsy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

An update. I will write here when I have news. It is now the 14th working day after the end of the tenancy.

I have cashed the cheque for the reduced despoit sum. This is uncontested and so there is no reason not to cash it (thanks all for making this advice clear above)

The money is held in the Tenancy Deposit Scheme : https://www.tds.gb.com/raise-a-dispute.html

- 7th working day : letter posted informing me of deductions. Nothing to justify or explain them, simply "1 Bed Full Clean” and “Clean Lounge Carpet”

- 11th working day : this letter arrives at my new address (very slowly)

- 12th working day : second letter posted from letting agency with reduced deposit cheque

- 13th working day : letter arrives at my new address with cheque for reduced fee. First email to ask for justification from letting agent for reductions.

- 15th working day : NB - letting agents will not communicate about deposit matters except by letter or email as stated in their T&C's. I email again to ask for justification

- 16th working day - I ask for dialogue a third time and suggest that letting agent is refusing to enter discussion into the dispute. Recieve reply by email from secretary stating that boss is out of office and that nothing can get done until she "phones me back". Phone calls are not deemed part of the dispute process by the letting agent's rules, and anyway no phone call is made to the mobile I gave as a contact. Became mildly annoyed with the secretary's tone who wrote that my uncontested deposit cheque was sent "and anyway the TDS is there if you want more back". I didnt realise the TDS system existed as a risk-free mechanism for letting agents to try it on.

- now 19th working day : cashed cheque. Digging out arrival and departure photos of flat and planning on taking this to dispute in a few weeks when free time eases a little.

Deadlines :

If the tenant does not agree to the proposed deductions from the deposit, the tenant should make a reasonable effort to tell the landlord/agent. However, landlords/agents should understand that the tenant’s silence does not mean agreement. If the tenant objects to the deductions, he or she should tell the landlord/agent why:

a. within 20 working days after the end of the tenancy (however the tenancy ends); or if different

b. within the period stated in the tenancy agreement (which must be at least 14 days); or, if later than (a) and (B)

c. within 10 working days of the landlord/agent notifying the tenant of the proposed deductions from the deposit.

The landlord/agent should try to resolve the dispute within 10 working days. If they cannot do so, or the tenant remains dissatisfied, either of them should promptly refer the dispute to us or to the court.

I have attempted dialogue three times by email and not recieved an adequate response. I think I have now made a reasonable effort.

If the parties cannot agree on how the deposit is to be split, a dispute should be sent to The Dispute Service for adjudication:

a. no earlier than 10 working days from the lawful end of the tenancy; and

b. no later than 3 months after the end of the tenancy if the tenancy is a new tenancy that was first covered by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme on or after 6 April 2011; or

c. no later than 6 months after the end of the tenancy if the deposit to which it relates was first protected with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme before 6 April 2011.

Therefore, I have up to 6 months to fill out the dispute form, which I shall probably do in about a months time, when a few work deadlines pass.

I'm thinking strongly of taking this to The Small Claims Court to get expenses back for my time and effort in this process. I think there needs to be a precedent set that letting agents who try it on will pay for their timewasting. I also have an ulterior motive in that I wish to learn how the Small Claims Court works, as I might end up in the future in a workplace scenario where money doesnt get paid and so this is likely to happen a lot.

I will update the thread when things change.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good luck. It sounds very thorough.

I've found the small claims court to be very good but I have never tried to claim back for my time and effort.

Imagine that one idea would be

1. To work out who your claim is against. When I'[ve been to the small claims court I have always claimed against the LL as the legal advice I had was that my contract was with them.

2. Advise that person by registered letter of your intent. When I went to the small claims court they were very interested in what I had done to inform the person of the full extent of what my claim would be. I have included in that claims all the postage for registered letters and materials used (photos copied etc). I made this clear to the LL that I would be claiming for this if the claim went to the small claims court. Also my transport costs to and from the court and any time I had to take off work (paid an hourly rate as IT contract) etc.

My guess is that you would need to make this clear i.e. by a registered letter that gave them x days to pay up and then clearly explained to them what costs they would face if you took legal action.

The LL has been forced to pay the small claims court costs as well in my attempts

3. Have a think about getting your money. If the LL is dodgy and their address is false or they are hding behind a company p.o. box it can be hard to track them down and harder still to extract the money from them even if you have a small claims victory.

Just a few ideas. Hope that helps in some way.

Good luck

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

UPDATE : I've filed compliant with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme to get the rest of my deposit back. Will update thread in due course.

Fingers crossed dude, keep us informed how things go...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

UPDATE : ALL MY EVIDENCE SUBMITTED EARLY MAY

late May 2013 Awaiting Full Responses

We have sent a copy of the Notification of Dispute form to the other parties to give them an opportunity to present their side of the dispute and to send us any evidence they want us to consider.

THE LETTING AGENT ISSUED NO RESPONSE

4th Jun 2013 Awaiting Pre Adjudication Review

All the evidence submitted to TDS is being reviewed by a Casework Scrutiny Manager. This is a final check before the case is passed to an adjudicator. We ensure that we have all the information we need and the documents that the parties wanted us to see.

IT'S ME PRESENTING FULL EVIDENCE AGAINST THE LETTING AGENT IGNORING THE CASE.

I'm expecting to win. I will outline what I have learned once the case is over and the cheque for the rest of the cash is in my bank account.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

OK, I won the case after hearing from the TDS today, and I am due the full outstanding amount. Thank you to all for your comments and advice. Letting agencies clearly need better regulation. Technically, the letting agent in falsely claiming that something needs cleaning, in order to benefit from a payment, has committed fraud.

I am happy to write up my experience in more detail to help others who in future find this thread on a search, but this needs to wait a while until I have the cheque from the TDS and cashed.

I am also planning to take this further - likely a claim for my time/expenses through the small claims court or even a compliant of fraud - and might be seeking advice from the general wisdom of the forum in due course.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, I won the case after hearing from the TDS today, and I am due the full outstanding amount. Thank you to all for your comments and advice. Letting agencies clearly need better regulation. Technically, the letting agent in falsely claiming that something needs cleaning, in order to benefit from a payment, has committed fraud.

I am happy to write up my experience in more detail to help others who in future find this thread on a search, but this needs to wait a while until I have the cheque from the TDS and cashed.

I am also planning to take this further - likely a claim for my time/expenses through the small claims court or even a compliant of fraud - and might be seeking advice from the general wisdom of the forum in due course.

fantastic news! well done!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am also planning to take this further - likely a claim for my time/expenses through the small claims court or even a compliant of fraud - and might be seeking advice from the general wisdom of the forum in due course.

I would not bother if I were you as such a claim is likely to fail. A landlord who won a claim on adjudication would not be able to claim expenses and the same principle has to apply to tenants. The fraud angle is pretty much a non-starter. Landlords/agents unreasonably disputing how much of a deposit should be returned fall into two broad categories: the honest with unreasonable expectations and the dishonest out to grab what they can. You will have a difficult time persuading a court that your case comes into the latter category as the hurdle you have to clear to prove fraud is very high. All legal victories involve some loss of time or money. The main thing is that you won - best to leave it there and move on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 weeks later...

Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread. I thought I would wrap it up with some a summary of what I experienced of the tenancy dispute process.

Firstly, the answer to the thread "Do I cash the cheque?" is "Yes". In brief, if the letting agents only returns part of the deposit, cashing this incomplete sum is no admission that you agree with the letting agent. You can cash this amount and still proceed to challenge for the rest, as i did, and as I won.

As is good advice elsewhere, take lots of good quality digital photos when you start and finish the tenancy, and work carefully through the inventory at check in. Proof of date is important in photos, so try and put a newspaper from the date concerned in at least some of the shots. Once you challenge a landlord's claim with before/after photos they will rarely go to the bother disputing the claim, as you can see from my case. In fact, my case was even worse as the letting agent never bothered to send me or the TDS a check-out report either. If you take good photos (plenty of them) and work through the inventory in detail, you can be quite sure of showing enough evidence to scare off the cowboy letting agent who is trying it on. They will not respond to the TDS call for evidence. And in such a case, where the letting agent will not respond, you will almost certainly win.

The full written declaration

REASONS FOR DECISION

Both parties are equally entitled to rely on both a check-in and check-out report along with any supporting labelled and dated photographs as being the principal evidence in establishing the condition of the property at the start and end of the tenancy. A landlord is not entitled to betterment and must allow for fair wear and tear although the scope of this does not extend to cleaning.

The Dispute Service contacted all the parties but I have not received any response from the landlord concerning her claims. I have therefore based my adjudication on the submitted papers from the tenant only although these papers do include details of the landlord’s claim.

Property cleaning

The landlord’s claim concerns a “1 bed full clean” and cleaning of the lounge carpet as set out in an agents’ letter of March 2013. In summary, the tenant disputes the claim stating that there had been no deterioration in the cleanliness since check-in, the absence of agents’ responses concerning the claims and that they have failed to provide him with a copy of a check-out report or other supporting information.

As my introduction states, it is vital that a landlord, or agent on their behalf, provides me with supporting evidence from the beginning and end of the tenancy. None has been provided by them in this dispute. The tenant has submitted a copy of a check-in report with what appears to be his handwritten amendments to that report in the “final inspection” comments box. At least, I have seen no evidence that these comments were added at check-out (for example – no lounge carpet cleaning noted) and there is also no separate dated check-out report amongst the papers. In the absence of that information, I have made no landlord’s award.

Award landlord - £0.00

In agreeing to refer the dispute to TDS you agreed to be bound by the Adjudicator’s decision. This decision cannot be appealed except by applying to the Court. Should you chose to do this we recommend that you seek independent legal advice. Please note there are strict time limits involved and any costs incurred are likely to be significant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 6 months later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.