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Please Help Me To Nail My Friend's Cowboy Landlord

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My friend popped around last night to tell me that her landlord has decided to keep all of her deposit! The story is that she moved last month after only just 6 months. She didn't like the house she was renting due to the fact that the house was too close to the railway line, as you can imagine, that creates significant noise. I remember her complaining about the smell of damp & mould as well.

Anyway she has landlord's letter that I have now scanned. Please read through to see what you can make of.

Letter part 1

Letter part 2

Her comments about the landlord's points are;

  • Dents on both fridge freezer & washing machine were already on there when she moved in.
  • She didn't even have a front garden that landlords claims should be left tidy & acceptable however she admits that she didn't pay much attention to the back garden, as she never made much use of it, considering the fact that she moved there in the winter (December) and moved out last month. Still she says she may accept the cost for the garden that is £100 deduction from the deposit but all other claims & reasons are unacceptable.
  • About the marks on the walls she thinks they are normal wear and tear, as she doesn't remember doing anything to cause it & she didn't even notice them!
  • She says she removed her rubbish but accepts that she forgot the small BBQ in the back garden.
  • The bath is mouldy, as the landlord claims, but she says it was already there + the bathroom doesn't even have windows! So she couldn't even air it. It is clear that the mould has been there for more than 6 months.

I believe the landlord scanned some pictures and sent it to her on an A4 paper so you can't even see what he is claiming for but I'll try to scan & post it as well.

Anyway wait for the best part! I told her, thinking her deposit is protected, she can dispute his claims and accept the decision of whoever is holding the deposit.

Guess what! she told me that the landlord has never confirmed where he is protecting her deposit and as far as she is concerned her deposit is not even protected.

She says she rented directly from him, as he knew someone she knew, so no letting agent was involved. She has the confirmation of how her deposit is protected where she is now, as the agents sent her a letter confirming all details, but she has never received anything from her 'cowboy' landlord regarding where it was kept & protected.

My understanding is that this muppet is trying to keep the deposit that he is not even entitled to due to the simple fact that he couldn't even be bothered to protect her deposit.

I told her, if he failed to protect her deposit, she is entitled more than just the deposit!

She wants to fight back not just for her deposit but as a matter of principle that he has broken the law and still has the cheek to rip his tenant off!

Where does my friend stand? Appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks

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Did your friend sign an inventory? If there is no inventory, I think the LL will have trouble proving that your friend has caused anything other than "reasonable wear and tear" which cannot be extracted from the deposit. Also if the deposit isn't protected, and the LL should have provided information concerning which of the 3 schemes s/he used within 2 weeks of the start of the tenancy, then the LL is in deep doo doo and your friend could be awarded up to 3x the initial deposit by the court.

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If he has failed to protect it then she can take him to small claims court and they can make him pay back up to three times the amount plus interest and costs. That'll teach him.

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Guest Skint Academic

Keep us informed though whatever the outcome. We took our landlord to court and it just cost both of us money. But that's because the landlord was stupid enough to spend several times the deposit he held on a good lawyer and we didn't have time to prepare properly because we were moving house again. So we had the satisfaction of knowing that we hurt him financially really quite badly.

You cannot give these scum any quarter.

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Many thanks for great suggestions.

Did your friend sign an inventory?

Very good question but I don't have the answer. I'll ring and ask her tonight.

then the LL is in deep doo dooand your friend could be awarded up to 3x the initial deposit by the court.

I hope so!

There is a pro-forma letter you should probably send before starting a claim.

http://www.unipol.leeds.ac.uk/Media/PDF/Le...0or%20agent.pdf

Does that mean if he decides to pay after this letter the matter is settled? I believe my friend is annoyed with him and doesn't even mind losing her deposit as long as that muppet pays the penalty for breaking the law (if he has)

Keep us informed though whatever the outcome.

I will certainly do so

So we had the satisfaction of knowing that we hurt him financially really quite badly.

very good outcome!

You cannot give these scum any quarter.

:lol:

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Many thanks for great suggestions.

Does that mean if he decides to pay after this letter the matter is settled? I believe my friend is annoyed with him and doesn't even mind losing her deposit as long as that muppet pays the penalty for breaking the law (if he has)

Providing he pays in full yes it would be settled. The courts tend to take a dim view when there has been no attempt to settle out of court and/or follow some sort of pre-action protocol. e.g. the judge could decide to award her no compensation (just the return of her deposit) in any case and she might be left with costs. I don't think there is any right to compensation. It exists to get landlords to pay up or face additional costs. She would be in a stronger position if she still lived there.

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Does that mean if he decides to pay after this letter the matter is settled? I believe my friend is annoyed with him and doesn't even mind losing her deposit as long as that muppet pays the penalty for breaking the law (if he has)

If the letter were worded in that exact manner then I would say yes, She could just start the process, as far as I can tell she has already in effect passed the first stage by opening dialog with him and he is saying she can't have the deposit back.

There is still however some legal wrangling on the exact circumstances on whether the "fine" is payable in all cases. Personally I'd suggest she justs writes the letter and see what happens, if he returns the deposit then that IMO would be a victory for your friend.

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Providing he pays in full yes it would be settled. The courts tend to take a dim view when there has been no attempt to settle out of court and/or follow some sort of pre-action protocol. e.g. the judge could decide to award her no compensation (just the return of her deposit) in any case and she might be left with costs. I don't think there is any right to compensation. It exists to get landlords to pay up or face additional costs. She would be in a stronger position if she still lived there.

An alternative approach might be to write a letter demanding return of her deposit or she will start court action without mentioning the rental deposit scheme. That would probably be sufficient pre-action protocol to start proceedings. Then she could bring up the rental deposit scheme later on (before it gets to court) which might encourage the LL to be generous. However that might prove problematic if the LL makes a reasonable offer to return a significant part of the deposit following the initial letter.

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Providing he pays in full yes it would be settled. I don't think there is any right to compensation. She would be in a stronger position if she still lived there.

Thanks Matt I'llmake sure she knows about that there isn't any right to compensation. So I guess her aim should then be to get her deposit back.

She would be in a stronger position if she still lived there.

Any idea why? If he has broken the law, surely, where she lives should not make any difference but of course I am not sure, as I am not an expert.

If the letter were worded in that exact manner then I would say yes, She could just start the process, as far as I can tell she has already in effect passed the first stage by opening dialog with him and he is saying she can't have the deposit back.

Yeap what you see what you get, the link provides the scanned copy of the letter she received. We've removed just the personal details. It is annoying that before she can even defend herself or make any comment he is saying she can't have the deposit back!

if he returns the deposit then that IMO would be a victory for your friend.

Thanks gilf, I'll let her know that getting the deposit back should be her priority then if not the fine or compansation, however, my personal view is that her landlord has bitten off more than he can chew! so he should learn his lesson.

Claiming something he is entitled to is something but claiming it after breaking the law when he is not entitled to is something else.

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable

Give me his address, I'll have a go on his wife.

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Irish solution:

Call brothers, cousins, mates.

Explain situation.

Call round to landlord, en masse.

Display annoyance by 'accidently' breaking stuff with pickaxe handles.

Thank landlord for return of deposit.

Return to rented property.

Trash property on account of landlord's cheek in the first place.

Ingenue, ne c'est pas?

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Irish solution:

Call brothers, cousins, mates.

Explain situation.

Call round to landlord, en masse.

Display annoyance by 'accidently' breaking stuff with pickaxe handles.

Thank landlord for return of deposit.

Return to rented property.

Trash property on account of landlord's cheek in the first place.

Ingenue, ne c'est pas?

Sounds fair :lol:

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Any idea why? If he has broken the law, surely, where she lives should not make any difference but of course I am not sure, as I am not an expert.

Thanks gilf, I'll let her know that getting the deposit back should be her priority then if not the fine or compansation, however, my personal view is that her landlord has bitten off more than he can chew! so he should learn his lesson.

Claiming something he is entitled to is something but claiming it after breaking the law when he is not entitled to is something else.

I was thinking along the lines of being able to withold rent that might put her in a stronger position - and the LL would then have to decide if he wanted to initiate court action when there was the potential of a large compensation payment against him.

As I understand it the LL isn't breaking the law as such. The law has created a right whereby the affected tenant can make a claim against the LL for the return of the deposit and claim compensation even where the tenant has suffered no discernable loss. I guess the whole point of it is to keep the claims out of court as any right minded LL will pay up as soon as they are prompted.

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When I looked into this I found some guidance that basically said the following :

claims for damage beyond wear and tear are generally subject to the following process for valuation:

1) What is the replacement cost of the item? - call it "£X"

2) What is the item's expected useful life? - call it "n"

3) How old was the item when the tenancy ended? call it "t"

Then the deductable sum is equal to £X * (n-t)/n (i.e. if the fridge was 8 years old, had a life time of 10 years and was worth £100 then the landlord could withold £20)

So - the landlord would have to prove that the items were basically brand new when the tenant moved in. Unlikely...

What's more - the above formula is generally then further reduced by reference to the size or scale of the damage - so for example if you'd damaged the floor of a house then, subject to the lifetime adjustment above, if you've only damaged 1/10th of the floor, then you only pay for 1/10th of the lifetime adjusted cost etc. etc.

As far as I know the courts are really very strict with the wear and tear condition - I was amazed when my last landlady had a professional surveyor person round to do a checkout of the property - we'd left spilt lemon juice on the slate floor and stained it really quite badly - what did they say? "Well - lemon juice is a cooking ingredient - so if the floor was not resistant to ordinary cooking ingredients being spilt on it then damage to the floor resulting from such a spillage is clearly reasonable to expect from the normal use of the property - so falls under fair wear and tear" i was amazed

Nick

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As I understand it the LL isn't breaking the law as such. The law has created a right whereby the affected tenant can make a claim against the LL for the return of the deposit and claim compensation even where the tenant has suffered no discernable loss. I guess the whole point of it is to keep the claims out of court as any right minded LL will pay up as soon as they are prompted.

If the agreement is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, taken AFTER April 2007(?) then the LL is breakinmg the law by not placing the deposit in a protected scheme - but IANAL :)

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My friend popped around last night to tell me that her landlord has decided to keep all of her deposit! The story is that she moved last month after only just 6 months. She didn't like the house she was renting due to the fact that the house was too close to the railway line, as you can imagine, that creates significant noise. I remember her complaining about the smell of damp & mould as well.

Anyway she has landlord's letter that I have now scanned. Please read through to see what you can make of.

Letter part 1

Letter part 2

Her comments about the landlord's points are;

  • Dents on both fridge freezer & washing machine were already on there when she moved in.

  • She didn't even have a front garden that landlords claims should be left tidy & acceptable however she admits that she didn't pay much attention to the back garden, as she never made much use of it, considering the fact that she moved there in the winter (December) and moved out last month. Still she says she may accept the cost for the garden that is £100 deduction from the deposit but all other claims & reasons are unacceptable.

  • About the marks on the walls she thinks they are normal wear and tear, as she doesn't remember doing anything to cause it & she didn't even notice them!

  • She says she removed her rubbish but accepts that she forgot the small BBQ in the back garden.

  • The bath is mouldy, as the landlord claims, but she says it was already there + the bathroom doesn't even have windows! So she couldn't even air it. It is clear that the mould has been there for more than 6 months.

I believe the landlord scanned some pictures and sent it to her on an A4 paper so you can't even see what he is claiming for but I'll try to scan & post it as well.

Anyway wait for the best part! I told her, thinking her deposit is protected, she can dispute his claims and accept the decision of whoever is holding the deposit.

Guess what! she told me that the landlord has never confirmed where he is protecting her deposit and as far as she is concerned her deposit is not even protected.

She says she rented directly from him, as he knew someone she knew, so no letting agent was involved. She has the confirmation of how her deposit is protected where she is now, as the agents sent her a letter confirming all details, but she has never received anything from her 'cowboy' landlord regarding where it was kept & protected.

My understanding is that this muppet is trying to keep the deposit that he is not even entitled to due to the simple fact that he couldn't even be bothered to protect her deposit.

I told her, if he failed to protect her deposit, she is entitled more than just the deposit!

She wants to fight back not just for her deposit but as a matter of principle that he has broken the law and still has the cheek to rip his tenant off!

Where does my friend stand? Appreciate any suggestions.

Thanks

Send the landlord a letter asking for the deposit to be returned in full within 14 days or you will start legal proceedings.

You can't claim the cost of replacing a dishwasher simply because it has a dent in the door. A small token amount is all he could reasonable claim here, tenner or something. Irrelevent anyway without a signed inventory proving she made them.

Cost of weeding the back garden is reasonable. A small throw away barbeque is neither here nor there really.

Marks on the wall (unless they are truly massive) are normal wear and tear. Again he'd have to prove she made them with aforementioned inventory.

Mouldy bathroom is the landlords problem. He should ensure it's ventilated properly as this could be a hazard to his tenant's health. If tenant states she wiped down condensation - then she did. How is he to prove otherwise? Aside from anything else, bathrooms, do er, tend to get a little damp.

All the usual half baked nonsense that landlords come up with to steal money that isn't theirs. Tell your friend not to waste her time arguing, summons him - you can do it online in ten minutes.

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Alternatively if she never touched the garden and ripped the bannister off the wall she sounds like a pretty scruffy tenant. I wouldn't want her, were I a Landlord.

She should be careful he doesn't come after her for the balance of the money he claims she owes her - her liability is not capped at the level of the deposit.

Edited by Telometer

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Alternatively if she never touched the garden and ripped the bannister off the wall she sounds like a pretty scruffy tenant. I wouldn't want her, were I a Landlord.

She should be careful he doesn't come after her for the balance of the money he claims she owes her - her liability is not capped at the level of the deposit.

He'd be unlikely to have any luck IMO. Ripping a bannister off a wall! That sounds remarkably hard to do. I think it far more likely that the house is shoddy and poorly maintained, bannisters shouldn't come off walls.

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Lots of good advice here but I do feel you should post this in the renting section also. As Flopsy wrote there is a wealth of experience on matters like this.

Thanks to nstansbury I think I may be making use of the info posted.

The more I read of these renting nightmares regarding deposits with held, I think the best solution is not to pay the last month's rent :ph34r:

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The damage and who is responsible is irrelevant.

The Landlord did not protect the deposit or provide the prescribed information within 14 days, fill the court forms in and claim the deposit and 3x deposit in compensation.

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I told my friend this when she moved into a new rented property. Take photo's of everything! Every little dent, scratch, mark, stain and crack within the first week and submit a copy to the landlord. She has done this and its already paid off. I know it is too late for your friend but a must now. I have known at least seven people leave rented this year and not one got the full deposit back.

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