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My Experience With Dps

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I thought you might want to hear my experiences about taking a dispute through the Deposit Protection Service.

In summary: heartening news for renters. I won back all the disputed amount, without too much difficulty.

So, I rented a property with two house-mates in East London for 5 years.

The deposit was £2000.

The tenancy came to an end; I checked out with the agent, and said "cheerio" to my old home.

Outside the house, I left a lot of bin-bags for the binmen - 5 years worth of clutter!

The day after check-out, the agent mails to complain about this, on behalf of the landlord.

I told them I would sort it, and that night a friend and I moved all the rubbish to council bins.

(East London has lots of vulpine and human "treasure-hunters": all the bags had been split open, which is why they'd not been taken!)

A week later, I asked about the deposit, and the agent came back claiming £490:

1) £120 for broken fittings, garden maintenance, etc

2) £300 for redecoration of hallway and landing

3) £70 for removal of rubbish

I agreed to pay item (1).

I disputed (2), because I felt the scuffs and scrapes were fair wear-and-tear.

I disputed (3), because I had moved the rubbish myself!

Several exasperating mails were exchanged, but we could not agree on a final amount.

At this point, the agent used the DPS website to make a claim for £490.

The online process took over, and we did not correspond directly again (much to the relief of all parties, I'm sure!).

On the DPS site, I saw their claim and entered a counter-offer of £120.

I ticked that I was happy to go to "ADR" if necessary.

ADR is 'Alternative Dispute Resolution' - where the DPS uses a pro-bono lawyer to settle the dispute.

It's free, and avoids having to go to court, but for ADR to be available, both parties need to say they are happy to use it and be bound by the decision.

The undisputed amount (£1510) was paid back to me by DPS within 10 happy days.

We entered ADR over the remaining £370, and first the agent got 14 days to submit their evidence form.

Then I got a summary of their claim, and 14 days to submit evidence of my own.

Then they got a summary of my claim, and 7 days to finalise.

In our case, the agent provided the following evidence:

a] A tenancy agreement with the wrong start date (doh)

b] The checkout document and section 21 form

c] Checkout photographs

d] Builder's invoice

And, I provided copies of the following:

a] Tenancy agreement

b] Check-in document with correct start date :)

c] Letter from my friend, corroborating my story about clearing the rubbish

d] Copy of all correspondence / emails

28 days later, we got the results!

The adjudicator found both disputed items in my favour, for the following reasons.

1) Redecoration (£300) - the adjudicator cited the guidelines from ALRA, RICS, NAEA and Asset Skills, that the lifespan of decor in common areas does not exceed 3 years (5 years in other areas). Since our tenancy had been 5 years, they deemed any redecoration required to be due to normal wear-and-tear. WIN!

2) Rubbish removal (£70) - the adjudicator noted that the agent provided no invoice to show that rubbish was cleared from the property. On the other hand, I had mentioned clearing it myself in our email correspondence, and this was enough for them to find in my favour. WIN!

The £370 was returned within 10 working days, and the battle was over!

This DPS situation taught me the following:

Firstly, don't be afraid of getting into a dispute - it's your money, and there is a good chance you'll win, so don't capitulate to avoid the fight!

Secondly, don't panic when a dispute happens - the ADR is quite straightforward; it's drawn out, but not especially time-consuming... you will basically need one good evening of collating/printing, etc, to put together your case.

Thirdly, provide whatever evidence you can, but do not worry about perfection, nor about 'word vs word' situations - the burden of proof is with the agent. In the case of the rubbish removal, I *knew* they were trying their luck, but could not produce 'hard evidence' beyond a few emails about the situation, and a signed letter from a friend (hardly watertight!). Nonetheless, the agent provided even less, and so the claim failed.

Hopefully this mail will inspire people not to give up!

Let me know if you have questions, and.. good hunting!

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well done, OP.

I agree about not giving up - the dispute can drag on a bit, but in the end a well evidenced case where the landlord was shown to be unreasonable will be a win for the tenant.

My experience : http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=188868

Edited by Does Commute Abit

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