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Utility Bills And Witheld Deposits

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Can a landlord refuse to return a deposit until proof has been provided that all utility bills are up to date?

(Someone is asking on a forum and I wanted to give a definitive answer and I'm sure people on here will know!)

I can't think of any way in which this can be justified or legally acceptable since whether the utility bills are paid or not has nothing to do with the landlord.

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I'm not a lawyer, but I am a landlord and a renter. You must take a meter reading with your landlord, or at least agree to the readings. The landlord then informs the utility companies of the reading and starts paying from that point on. Everything up to that point is the problem of the utility company, i.e. they have to follow it up with you and not the landlord. Even if the landlord manages to lie about the meter reading, you will still have to pay the bill direct to the utility company. If you pay the landlord for the utility bills (via your deposit) you are probably going to get fleeced. And he/she has no right to take over your affairs like that.

Write two letters: One to the landlord stating in no uncertain terms what you want to confirm the exit meeting reading and will deal with the bills directly with the utility companies; another to the landlord stating that he/she has 4 weeks to pay back the deposit in full or be taken to court. Make copies of the documents and have the copies witnessed. Send the mail via signed delivery.

Edit: The same applies to council tax.

Edited by dellboy

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Can a landlord refuse to return a deposit until proof has been provided that all utility bills are up to date?

(Someone is asking on a forum and I wanted to give a definitive answer and I'm sure people on here will know!)

I can't think of any way in which this can be justified or legally acceptable since whether the utility bills are paid or not has nothing to do with the landlord.

I recently had the same problem. I found on a site somewhere that a deposit can only be legally witheld against damage to property. So no the tenant doesn't have to prove utility bills are paid. Unfortunately I can't remember the source. You could try googling 'witholding deposit' etc.

Note also that a utility contract is a contract between the tenant and the utility. The landlord is not a party to that contract, and I don't see that the landlord has any right to details of the contract. I suspect that demanding to see utility bills could be deemed an intrusion into the tenant's right to privacy.

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