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Deposit Withheld, Incorrectly Protected

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Hi,

Could anyone here advice me on what my rights are in regards to the following as my landlord is trying to withhold most of my deposit.

I lived in a shared house for six and a half months and paid a £600 deposit for a room. When I signed I was not given the correct prescribed information in regards to how my deposit was being dealt with. There was only a brief mention of the scheme (mydeposits) and corresponding numbers on the tenancy, there was no information for example as to how I should resolve a dispute.

Secondly, there is no record at mydeposits of a deposit being protected in my name. I was under a single tenancy in a shared house which meant I had no relationship with the other tenants and I think the landlord may have protected the deposit but under the name of other tenants. I believe this also means the deposit hasn't been protected correctly as it leaves me no recourse to open a dispute.

IIRC both of the above mean that the landlord must return all of the deposit? I really don't want to go to the small claims court but it seems I have no choice as I cannot use the mydeposits service.

Don't get me wrong, I am generally quite a reasonable tenant when it comes to deposits, and had there been damage I'd have been happy to pay for it. However, the place was in a state when I arrived there (as I was desperate I had to take it) and I even had a professional inventory service come in, take photographs and write up a report for £30 which details this. As far as I'm concerned I left it in a better state than I found it. For example, they hadn't even bothered to vacuum the carpets and are trying to take £50 from my deposit just for cleaning! :(

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Sorry to bump it but just read this,

"excessive cleaning charges - as a matter of normal practice in short

lets, reflecting the common law, tenants are expected to return the

property in as good and clean a condition as it was when they received

it, with fair wear and tear excepted. We therefore commonly object to

terms that could be used to make the tenant pay for the property to be

cleaned to a higher standard than it was in at the start of the tenancy,

or that require cleaning regardless of whether or not this is necessary

for the tenant to comply with their normal obligations with regard to the

state of the property "

http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/reports/unfair_contract_terms/oft356.pdf

Looks like the term about cleaning in the tenancy was unreasonable.

Also, he tried to hand me notice two months before the end of the fixed term but didn't issue a proper section 21 and when challenged, had a right go at me demanding that I leave at the end of the fixed term. He threatened to allow a new group of tenants to move in whilst (he'd re-let the entire property to a load of students on a joint tenancy) and 'just let nature take its course' which I imagine was a hollow threat of illegal eviction.

The thing that makes me laugh is not only did he issue the section 21 notice to quit incorrectly but if the deposit wasn't protected then he wouldn't be able to issue one anyway.

What really irks me about all this, is that this was through an agency - a bunch of people who you'd assume were professionals..... They certainly did nothing to justify their £285 admin fee that's for sure.

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What really irks me about all this, is that this was through an agency - a bunch of people who you'd assume were professionals..... They certainly did nothing to justify their £285 admin fee that's for sure.

If this is your first rental, welcome to the world in which the majority of 'professional' rental agents are frankly useless. I have rented multiple times in multiple countries, and in over 50% of rentals the agents made basic errors that a monkey with a guidebook would not have been expected to make.

simple rules when renting:

record everything

photograph the status of the place when you move in, in fine detail

email everything as evidence of conversations

do not trust verbal promises

set deadlines for their action

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My son has learnt the hard way that the best course of action is not to pay the last month's rent.

He was in a flat share where the LL/agent didn't repay the deposits. This was before the deposit protection schemes came in but the property was rented through an agency. Despite a lot of hassle with the agents who kept promising to pay the refund it never came. In the end he and his fellow flatmates decided on the small claims court and the case was decided in their favour but the money was still not returned to them. Further action requires shelling out more to get the court to go after the agents and at this point they gave up as it was all so stressful. Sometimes it's better to walk away but learn a lesson for the next time.

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My son has learnt the hard way that the best course of action is not to pay the last month's rent.

He was in a flat share where the LL/agent didn't repay the deposits. This was before the deposit protection schemes came in but the property was rented through an agency. Despite a lot of hassle with the agents who kept promising to pay the refund it never came. In the end he and his fellow flatmates decided on the small claims court and the case was decided in their favour but the money was still not returned to them. Further action requires shelling out more to get the court to go after the agents and at this point they gave up as it was all so stressful. Sometimes it's better to walk away but learn a lesson for the next time.

I only ever got stiffed by one landlord - and that was my last ever (hopefully). I thought about pursuing him via the courts but decided I couldn't be bothered in the end. It was an expensive lesson but one I'm not likely to repeat.

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.

IIRC both of the above mean that the landlord must return all of the deposit? I really don't want to go to the small claims court but it seems I have no choice as I cannot use the mydeposits service.

Sounds like you have a claim for non-protection, There's a couple of sticky's about it.

As long as you can be bothered to fill in the forms you'll get the full deposit returned at a minimum, maybe triple it as punishment.

Further action requires shelling out more to get the court to go after the agents and at this point they gave up as it was all so stressful. Sometimes it's better to walk away but learn a lesson for the next time.

That's what they rely upon. He'd have got the costs back as well. As it's a business enforcing a CCJ should have been easy.

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Many thanks for the replies and help. I'm gonna draft a letter tomorrow. I figure that's the first step as the court may think I've been unreasonable if I don't do everything in my power to recover the money before going to court. It has however been three months already, partly because I've been a bit lazy sorting it out but during this time I haven't once been contacted by the agency and have contacting them three times.

I figure I should give them 14 days to respond to my demands before I start court proceedings.

Lastly, I don't think the 3x amount applies anymore sadly, I think the localism act changed this to 1x the amount and at the total discretion of the judge.

I think though I should be able to charge for sending the letter + interest on the £600. It only seems reasonable that I charge for sending the letter, especially as it has to be sent recorded.

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Just for the record,

What changes have been made to the tenancy deposit protection legislation?

The time for protecting a deposit and supplying the prescribed information has increased from 14 days to 30 days.

The time limit of 30 days will be absolute and protection (or supplying prescribed information) after 30 days will not prevent a penalty being payable to the tenant

The financial penalty for non-compliance has been changed from three times the amount of the deposit to between one and three times the deposit to give the Courts more discretion as to the level of the financial penalty imposed for non-compliance.

Tenants can make an application to a county court for a penalty award even where the tenancy has ended – so the penalty does apply to former tenants.

http://www.redcubeproperty.com/the-localism-act-deposit-protection/

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You were renting a room. You sure you had tenancy agreement rather than a licence? And if it was a tenancy, was it on sublet?

Hi,

Yes don't worry, I was under an assured shorthold tenancy agreement not a lodging licence. It was a single tenancy in a licenced HMO (a three bedroom property converted into five rooms, with a single fridge freezer and one crappy shower).

Also my room had no net curtains and I asked some to be put up before I moved in. Sadly they refused to do this after I'd moved in. Definitely a lesson there for sure!

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Hi,

There is one slight problem; I didn't hand in a notice. That said I do have on record the landlord's botched attempt at trying to hand me notice, so I assume that even though it was incorrectly served, it will suffice for these purposes and is a request for me to leave at the end date of the tenancy? It's several pages long. I actually left the property five days earlier to make things easier for him too.

I

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Just to say that I did give notice, sort of, via text. Not sure if that counts though. I was in correspondence with the representative from the agency as to when I should leave.

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Hi,

There is one slight problem; I didn't hand in a notice. That said I do have on record the landlord's botched attempt at trying to hand me notice, so I assume that even though it was incorrectly served, it will suffice for these purposes and is a request for me to leave at the end date of the tenancy? It's several pages long. I actually left the property five days earlier to make things easier for him too.

I

I think it would be hard for landlord to retrospectively argue he didn't serve notice on you because he botched it. I would hope any judge would simply laugh it out of court if it even came near that.

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Hi,

Just a quick note on this, I'm going to send a letter demanding full payment of the deposit within 14 days + the cost of the letter. Do you think this is wise? I try not to be unreasonable with people, I'm not trying to bleed this agency of their funds through pursuing them in the courts and getting the compensation, I think it's more civil to try and settle it outside of court and I imagine a magistrate would consider it unreasonable if I haven't tried to recover the deposit without this action.

My question though is should I be asking for compensation in this letter too, should I ask for the interest on the deposit and at what rate? It's been almost three months since the tenancy ended.

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Any ideas? :(

You have a clear cut case, dont start muddying it with claims for stamps and 15 mins of your time at X wage to write it.

Document and attempt 3 clear efforts at communicating with them that you require the return of your deposit or you will be going to court.

Sounds like you already have done this, so make one last effort (recorded delivery) giving them 14 days and then off to court. You may get up to 3 times your deposit back (in addition to your initial sum?) so farking about trying to punish them for wasting your time is small beer and will cause loss of focus on the primary aim.

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You have a clear cut case, dont start muddying it with claims for stamps and 15 mins of your time at X wage to write it.

Document and attempt 3 clear efforts at communicating with them that you require the return of your deposit or you will be going to court.

Sounds like you already have done this, so make one last effort (recorded delivery) giving them 14 days and then off to court. You may get up to 3 times your deposit back (in addition to your initial sum?) so farking about trying to punish them for wasting your time is small beer and will cause loss of focus on the primary aim.

Thanks for that. Will do that and send it on Monday.

Incidently it was a licenced HMO and I have a number of gripes about the property that I'd like to raise. The thing is, when I moved in the place was in a state and this is clearly breaking the licencing standards of HMOs.

For e.g.,

Common parts, fixtures, fittings and appliances must be maintain in good and clean decorative repair, maintained in a safe and working condition and kept reasonably clear from obstruction. E.g. Banisters and handrails, stair coverings, windows, lighting, gardens and yards, walls and fences, etc.

Living accommodation, and installations and appliances provided and should be kept clean and in good repair and order. Each room should be in a clean condition at the beginning of the tenant's occupation of it. Windows and ventilation should be maintained in good order.

Failure to comply may result in prosecution, which incurs a maximum fine of £5000. The Council may serve a notice requiring the manger to carry out works to comply with the Regulations.

http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=12691

I have the benefit of having an inventory from an independent source, a company who specialises in creating inventories and frankly I'd like to ensure this landlord complies with the regulations on HMOs. Do you think I should just contact the council over this? It's kind of a separate issue to my claim so I shouldn't muddy the waters with it.

It also documents things like the number of fridge freezers I believe, so that should be interesting given there are supposed to be two.

Then there are other things like,

The manager must ensure that his/her contact details are provided to the occupants and displayed within the property in the case of an emergency.

Again not adhered to, not noted in the inventory but its absense may be indicated in the photographs.

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You can add any amount you want for your expenses, if the other party doesn't agree with your claim then they will be forced to attend court, if they don't then your claim will automatically succeed. I added £600 to a claim of £2,500 against a car dealer and because he ignored all correspondence it was granted and although I had to involve bailiffs to enforce it, it was eventually paid in full.

If you do add a large amount, then they have to option of disputing the amount before it goes to court and stating what they consider is the amount due, as likely as not this will be the amount you claim is owed without the added element.

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Thanks

I should also add that he was quite fond of popping in whenever he liked without any notice whatsoever. He just let himself in. A couple of times he'd just walk into the garden whilst I was out the sun.

I'm sure this sounds quite familar to a lot of people who rent privately. ;)

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I received a payment of £520 to my account a couple of days ago, the deposit amount was £600 so the plot thickens.

Still waiting to hear back from council in regards to the HMO issue. That's going to be an interesting one as they've just brought in extra HMO licencing conditions for that particular area.

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I received a payment of £520 to my account a couple of days ago, the deposit amount was £600 so the plot thickens.

Hi giving you back the deposit (not that he has) doesn't change the situation with him not properly protecting your deposit.

Used to be a loophole that the landlord just had to give it back to avoid the fine. No longer the case, you can still make a claim.

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Hi guys,

I've been quite sick recently so this thing has been dragging on. The landlord has returned £520 of the deposit after I sent the first letter which clearly takes the piss.

I have been meaning to send the second letter but Shelter seem to think I should send in all my proof with this letter before I go to court. As mentioned by gadget above, the landlord has broken the terms of the housing act and is still liable for compensation so withdrawing the threat of court action if he returns £80 seems like letting him off the hook, especially as all this agro is costing me time and money.

Ii'd be grateful if you could give me some advice as to how I should write this second letter and whether I should include the evidence I have against him in it. The stock shelter letter is here.

http://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/rtf_file/0007/438550/E._Request_for_a_deposit_to_be_refunded_after_a_landlords_failure_to_protect.rtf

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/paying_for_a_home/tenancy_deposits/court_action_to_get_a_tenancy_deposit_returned

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Hi guys,

Well anyway I followed shelter's advice and sent the following letter below. The landlord has now refunded the whole deposit. I assume the wording of the letters I sent means I have forfitted any right to claim the 3xamount + costs?

It would probably be quite unethical to claim it now anyway. I understand from the posts above that legally whether the deposit is returned or not, the penalty still applies but I imagine if I took it to court, he'd just produce the letter I sent.

I was in a sense trying to call his bluff but it failed. I really wanted to take the bugger to court because of the conditions I experienced in his flat, like 5 people sharing a fridge freezer and him refusing to put up curtains in a furnished property lol. I had a professional inventory done which details what it was like when I moved in. I will upload here soon to show you just what I'm talking about.

Dear landlord of

I am the former tenant of ***** which you let to me on an assured shorthold tenancy starting on 17/12/2012.

I am writing concerning the deposit I paid to you on 10/12/2012 as a security against my obligations to you under the terms of my tenancy agreement.

It is my belief that:

you failed to comply with your legal obligations to protect my deposit with a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme and you failed to provide me with the information about tenancy deposit schemes required by law within the time limits required.

I have made enquiries of the deposit protection schemes to establish if my deposit is protected, but have been unable to find any evidence that my deposit has been protected with: Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits, Tenancy Deposit Scheme

The law required you to protect my tenancy deposit within 30 days of it being received by you, and provide me with certain information about which scheme you used. As you have failed to comply with the requirements of the law, I am entitled to have my deposit refunded to me in full.

I have previously requested that you return my deposit, Thank you for returning £520 of the deposit, however, this is not the amount in full, please refer to the previous correspondence and return the remaining £80.

If I do not receive payment or a substantial response from you by the 02/01/2014, I intend to issue court proceedings in the County Court without further notice. I reserve the right to include a claim for interest, costs and compensation in addition to the amount of the deposit remaining. Please be advised that the courts may order you to pay compensation of between one and three times the value of my deposit.

I will be relying on the Court Civil Procedure Rules Practice Direction: Pre-action Conduct. I must therefore draw your attention to paragraph 4 concerning the court's powers to impose sanctions for failure to comply with the Practice Direction; and inform you that ignoring this letter before action may increase your liability for costs.

Yours sincerely,

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