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Hello - we are currently trying to get our deposit back from our old landlord. We have applied through the small claims court but *surprise*, he is pretending he doesn't live at his old address and has reutrned the claims form 'addressee unknown'. The address we have for him belongs to his girlfriend, to whom he also sold our rental property halfway through our tenancy without our knowledge. So, everything is in her name. I could go round to his house and serve the papers myself but it's a bit of a hassle, and the girlfriend may claim he isn't there - and I don't own a nice warm car to sit in while I stake it out! So, anyone have any suggestions? Although we gave the deposit to him, we lived there for a year and a half after he sold it to her. Does that mean we can sue her instead, even though we still paid rent to him?

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Hello - we are currently trying to get our deposit back from our old landlord. We have applied through the small claims court but *surprise*, he is pretending he doesn't live at his old address and has reutrned the claims form 'addressee unknown'. The address we have for him belongs to his girlfriend, to whom he also sold our rental property halfway through our tenancy without our knowledge. So, everything is in her name. I could go round to his house and serve the papers myself but it's a bit of a hassle, and the girlfriend may claim he isn't there - and I don't own a nice warm car to sit in while I stake it out! So, anyone have any suggestions?  Although we gave the deposit to him, we lived there for a year and a half after he sold it to her. Does that mean we can sue her instead, even though we still paid rent to him?

Have you recieved any legal advice?

try your local CAB.

I am no legal expert, so don't take what i say as gospal....but if my understanding is correct I can see two answers here,

1: since the owner of the property changed and you stayed in there, it was a sale with tenant (whatever the legal term is) and as such all landlord rights and obligations passed to the new owner, therefore SHE is now reponsible for repaying the deposit.

2: The papers have been served, and it will go into a finders trace situation which will be added to the costs, so when he is located and the case appears in court, (I assume that you will win the case) you then get awarded the deposit return plus all costs, therefore....he pays the trace.

As I say, go speak to CAB in the first instance, you have obviously gone some way already with the courts (been looking at it myself thinking about threatening an ex agency for disputed deposit), so i don't know it you have already had some advice or you've started the process already without any advice. It is possible you have served notice onthe wrong person, in which case you will incure the costs to cancel the case now as well as the start-up costs, and will have to go through the process again with the new "girlfriend", ie make a request for return of deposit, followed by request again and threat of legal action, followed by legal action.

keep us posted

Topher Bear

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We got advice from the CAB, who were bobbins, at best. They said we couldn't sue the girlfriend. However, a few minutes ago I had the bright idea of contacting the solicitor who was acting for the landlord / girlfriend whilst they were trying to sell us the poo-heap (we pulled out - July last year, perfect timing or by now we would have lost our deposit as prices in the borough have dropped exactly 5%). he was very good and said that if his memory served him right, we should be suing her. Luckily we are counted as low income at present so shouldn't have to pay fees, but if she is liable I am very angry with the CAB - don't suppose there is anything I can do about that, though. He is definitely still with the girlfriend as I rang the agent who was selling the flat pretending to be interested and disappointed that it had been removed from the market (not!) and he spoke about the male vendor collecting the keys... so our old ll is still trying to sell it on her behalf, therefore.

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Shelter, in our area at least, are a lot more aggressive than CAB who take the defensive line

Actually I'll second that as good people to talk to. Their housing advice line...brilliant...have to hang on the line for ages and ages though.

I've got the number somewhere if you want it, but go the website, should be on there somewhere.

So have you asked for the deposit back from the girlfriend?

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Actually I'll second that as good people to talk to.  Their housing advice line...brilliant...have to hang on the line for ages and ages though.

I've got the number somewhere if you want it, but go the website, should be on there somewhere.

So have you asked for the deposit back from the girlfriend?

We are about to - spoke to her solicitor (knew who he was owing to our abandoned attempts to buy the flat) , and he said if we passed the documents to him, he'd forward them on to her while pretending he didn't know what they were. She must have really annoyed him at some point... I've spoken to the local housing office today and they seem to think that as we were still paying our rent to him, he is liable for the deposit. I'd rather follow the solicitor's advice, though - imagine he knows more than the housing people?

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We are about to - spoke to her solicitor (knew who he was owing to our abandoned attempts to buy the flat) , and he said if we passed the documents to him, he'd forward them on to her while pretending he didn't know what they were. She must have really annoyed him at some point... I've spoken to the local housing office today and they seem to think that as we were still paying our rent to him, he is liable for the deposit. I'd rather follow the solicitor's advice, though - imagine he knows more than the housing people?

agreed.

After all, when you go through a letting agent, you pay the rent to the Letting agent, and they then pay the rent on to the landlord, but by law the landlord is still the ones responsible for returning the desposit, not the agent!

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  • 4 weeks later...
agreed.

After all, when you go through a letting agent, you pay the rent to the Letting agent, and they then pay the rent on to the landlord, but by law the landlord is still the ones responsible for returning the desposit, not the agent!

We have found the b'stard!!! The Mrs got really cheesed off with it and put her dubious acting skills into practice - think Allo Allo accent - anyway, she called his mobile no, which we still have, and pretended to be a foreign student who'd found his expensive pen outside his church and had been given his no. by a member of the resident God squad. He bit (!!!!), and passed on his address for it to be returned. He's in a Housing Association property despite having numerous other homes owned, and is the registered elector there cos she just rang the borough. Hooray!!! Fingers crossed we can now get our money back, and not before time.

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He's in a Housing Association property despite having numerous other homes owned, and is the registered elector there cos she just rang the borough. Hooray!!! Fingers crossed we can now get our money back, and not before time.

If he is the legal tenant, he clearly is not in need of housing. Inform the housing association that he is a property owner.

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My initial thoughts on this are that you may potentially be able to sue either of them, depending on the circumstances. When she bought the property did you then start paying rent to her?

In law, when you sue somebody, you are only required to serve the claim form on them at their last known address. As you now know the landlords current address it is probably best that you sue him there. If you send two claim forms to the court with the appropriate fee then they should serve the claim form for you. After this the landlord will have two weeks to defend the claim or file an acknowledgement of service. If he does neither of these then you would be enititled to 'default judgment'. Once you have judgment you will need to consider how to enforce the debt. through a warrant of execution, charging order etc.

Edited by JST
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My initial thoughts on this are that you may potentially be able to sue either of them, depending on the circumstances.  When she bought the property did you then start paying rent to her?

In law, when you sue somebody, you are only required to serve the claim form on them at their last known address.  As you now know the landlords current address it is probably best that you sue him there.  If you send two claim forms to the court with the appropriate fee then they should serve the claim form for you.  After this the landlord will have two weeks to defend the claim or file an acknowledgement of service.  If he does neither of these then you would be enititled to 'default judgment'. Once you have judgment you will need to consider how to enforce the debt. through a warrant of execution, charging order etc.

I think his properties are probably all registered in his girlfriend's name (unless she has kicked him out, hence the housing association place). The problem with serving the notice at his old address was that it was returned 'addressee unknown' and hence wasn't deemed to have been served. It's a major failing of the small claims court.

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I think his properties are probably all registered in his girlfriend's name (unless she has kicked him out, hence the housing association place). The problem with serving the notice at his old address was that it was returned 'addressee unknown' and hence wasn't deemed to have been served. It's a major failing of the small claims court.

Request bailiff service. The court can do this for a small fee.

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Request bailiff service.  The court can do this for a small fee.

we will - luckily, because of a few quirks in our income this year we fall below the threshold and so don't have to pay any court fees (or at least, we get them all refunded) so we can even have him declared bankrupt, at no cost to ourselves.

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If he sold the property to his girlfriend half way through the tenancy then legally she was your landlord at the end, and she is liable to return your deposit to you. You should be taking her to court. Hopefully when she realises she's been dragged into his mess, she'll make him cough up to avoid having to be dragged through the courts for his mistakes. Best of luck.

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Not being English I was given some very sound advice from an English friend. I didn't follow since I didn't assume my landlord was a thief until proven innocent ... fool me. Never pay the last months rent, because you won't get your bond back. I rented through a 'reputable' real estate agent who then wiped their hands of the situation as soon as it got sticky.

The good news is that although slum landlords are rife in London, I suspect they are not going to be able to compete over the next 7 year cycle! :D

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Not being English I was given some very sound advice from an English friend.  I didn't follow since I didn't assume my landlord was a thief until proven innocent  ... fool me.  Never pay the last months rent, because you won't get your bond back.  I rented through a 'reputable' real estate agent who then wiped their hands of the situation as soon as it got sticky. 

The good news is that although slum landlords are rife in London, I suspect they are not going to be able to compete over the next 7 year cycle!    :D

We weren't expecting to find such a good flat and move out as soon as we did, so we'd already paid it. However, I feel happy in the knowledge that a combination of our failed purchase and landlord's greed (asking about 15k too much for the place and refusing to move on price) means he missed the top of the market and has lost out big time.

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  • 442 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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