Best Deposit Protection for disputes?

by Readers Question

9:52 AM, 16th May 2019
About A year ago

Best Deposit Protection for disputes?

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Best Deposit Protection for disputes?

Obviously I have an obligation to protect the deposits of my tenants, but having had 2 poor experiences with My Deposits on the only 2 occasions I’ve had big issues (I have had over 250 deposits protected) I wonder if there is an alternative that gives a less biased dispute service.

I’ve just had a new wooden floor badly marked – and admitted to by the tenant who assured me he’d put it right – didn’t – so I was awarded £85 (specialist said it couldn’t be spot sanded) and same tenant left me with the cleaning and out of £150 invoiced by professional cleaning company (in and out professional inventories supporting) I was awarded £100!! Not a big deal (except the floor) but I would like the support of the dispute service when they are needed.

I just don’t understand the decision but have no right to query it seems. I never normally bother for cleaning of other bits of damage, but he was seriously taking advantage of me.

I hear that there is a new one now called Zero Deposits where a premium of one week’s rent is paid and 6 weeks ‘cover’ given.

Anyone know of or in this system?

Harlequin Garden



Comments

AP

10:21 AM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

I just looked up Zero Deposits and their site states:

‘If you're responsible for any loss or damage, you'll need to pay for it. We use TDS to expertly evaluate any disputes, so you're in safe hands.’

So I can’t see if being any less biased towards tenants than the standard TDS service. It seems like it is really there to help cash flow of tenants to not have 5 weeks rent held for the duration of their tenancy.

I’ve protected over 100 deposits myself over the years (plus at least the same number where agents have held and protected them...I’m including renewals in those figures).

I’ve only once needed to go through a dispute with Mydeposits. It was a joke. My report was over 50 pages long, with detailed photos, videos, invoices etc. I treated it as a learning experience having never been through it. The tenants tried to dispute the check out cost for example even though it was in the AST - it was done by an independent clerk who is a member of the trade body etc. But they tried to claim it was a relative of mine (it was not!)

The tenants had attempted to fix some issues themselves - for example in bathrooms with cream tiles and grout, I use matching silicone for a contemporary finish. I also use a specialist mastic man who gets a neat finish. The tenants never cleaned and it was so mouldy, they then bought some cheap white silicone and smeared it half way over the mouldy part so I was left with a seal that was half beige and neat and half white and a mess. The tenants claimed ‘there is no such thing as beige silicone’ and despite me taking photos showing it, having invoices for the work and for Mapei beige silicone, the adjudicator awarded nothing for that part as the tenants had ‘fixed the issue themselves’.

The tenants paid for a professional clean and of course chose the cheapest company they could who did a terrible job (evidenced by the check out). I paid for a few hours of professional cleaning to sort the specific issues but was awarded nothing as I ‘should have allowed the tenants to come back and sort the issues themselves of via their company’ (even though they had stopped communicating with me and never asked to do this!)

The only amounts I received in full were for things like the carbon monoxide alarm that went missing and damage to floor tiles that I had to have professionally cleaned (I think I only received that money because I showed a video of me trying to clean it with a steam cleaner myself first!)

Harlequin Garden

10:21 AM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

This sounds like the 'Zero Deposits' scheme I've heard about - for big issues your own insurance should kick in (I didn't do this as he'd admitted the damage to the floor and said in an email that he'd deal with it - so I'm awarded £85 with no explanation, it wouldn't even cover my excess), this really is a broken system - I'm just so fortunate that I've not relied on this and just sorted out any bits of damage or missing items myself and been pleased that the tenant has paid rent for the term and left when they said - easily pleased. There really isn't anything in place to protect the landlord and I'm wondering why we are doing it now with all this other stuff in and to come in. I've just had a tenant in an HMO remind me of 'fit to rent' when they haven't cleaned the rubber seal of their washing - suddenly my fault. It wasn't always like this.

Seething Landlord

10:29 AM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

Allegations of bias fail to recognise that the ADR adjudicators have a quasi-judicial role and apply the same principles that govern a claim in the Courts. This means that the onus is always on the claimant to prove his case by providing sufficient evidence that "on the balance of probabilities" (the civil standard of proof) the defendant has a legal liability to pay the amount claimed or such other amount as the adjudicator determines.

Nobody is obliged to use the ADR service (I am only familiar with the DPS rules), there is always the option of pursuing a claim in the Courts if you want to spend the time and money involved and still risk the claim failing due to a "technicality" (i.e. something that you got wrong or overlooked) or your inability to persuade the Judge to find in your favour.

AJR

11:57 AM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

I had a deposit protected with TDS. The tenant ran into rent arrears in excess of £1500. I served a section 21 and section 8 concurrently. Won a court judgement against the tenant and then submitted my claim including court papers to TDS. They refused to release the deposit to me without the tenants consent and the court ruling had no influence whatsoever . Needless to say the tenant took his time to give his consent and I eventually got the deposit money some 4 months later. I then pursued the remainder of the debit via an attachment of earnings order. Tenant was given 2 yrs to pay.
Ridiculous open bias that defies any notion of fairness. Never use TDS and join any campaign to put them out of business.
I now don’t take deposits as it’s not worth the candle as all these schemes are openly biased. I use guarantor agreements preferring to argue my case in the presence of a judge rather join these pointless schemes. Yet to test the county court route, but can’t be worse than these money for nothing biased schemes.

Harlequin Garden

12:12 PM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 18/05/2019 - 10:29
When you provide over and above the proof - invoices, proof of payment, inventory in and out and then don't get it - even an admission and it is still not awarded to you - I have to think that it is an unfair system and the bias is always towards the tenant who provides minimal evidence, and thank my lucky starts that I haven't had to go down this route often - I only did this because the tenant also owed an energy bill (new build and they are generated by the management and the lease holder has ultimate responsibility - ie the bill reverts to me if the tenant doesn't pay) - he said the readings were incorrect - the management and the supplier backed me thankfully (who knows ?they may have been incorrect) - and the unpaid portion that had accumulated during his tenancy was awarded to me - however I didn't get the the amount outstanding from his last bill to the final exit bill - I'm convinced they don't actually read all the paperwork. It's all hard work now. I wouldn't have billed him for a 2nd clean and had the floor done via insurance who told me to take it from the deposit (too late now) - he refused to respond to me and went straight to the dispute service - there was no way I was going to pay his £500 electricity bill without defending myself.

Richard Peeters

12:24 PM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

Guarantors: hmmm... we used them routinely when we previously did student lets, but maybe this could be a good approach even for working tenants? At least we would have TWO people to pursue, and there might be some sense of honour for the tenant not to let down the guarantor? If the prospective tenant had no family or friends willing to go guarantor, would this send landlord's alarm bells going?

Having said that, I would not want to be guarantor for anyone unless I could limit it by time and amount (e.g. max 12 months, max 2 months' rent), otherwise it would be a blank cheque (the identical blank cheque that the landlord might be facing if there were no guarantor).

Michael Barnes

13:37 PM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Anthony Richard at 18/05/2019 - 11:57
If the court order explicitly says that the deposit (or some part of it) is to be paid to the LL, then the deposit scheme is in contempt if they fail to pay it.

However, if the order simply says "T to pay £x to LL", then the deposit scheme is correct not to pay LL without consent of T; they do not know if T has paid it all, which would require the return of the deposit to the tenant.

Michael Barnes

13:45 PM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Richard Peeters at 18/05/2019 - 08:19If you want money in advance for damages, then that is a deposit, not rent.
There is probably clever wording and processes that would allow you to take the last month's rent at the start of the tenancy. It would require tenancy continuing as a contractual periodic tenancy (not an ast), never renewing, and careful thought about end of tenancy options such as
- Tenant gives notice and leaves (not a problem)
- Tenant gives notice and does not leave
- LL serves S21 and tenant leaves
- LL serves S21 and T does not leave
- T dies.
There are probably many more, and I would not go there.

Monty Bodkin

13:52 PM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 18/05/2019 - 10:29Allegations of bias fail to recognise that the ADR adjudicators have a quasi-judicial role and apply the same principles that govern a claim in the Courts. This means that the onus is always on the claimant to prove his case by providing sufficient evidence that "on the balance of probabilities"
I think we all recognise that.
The point being made is that it is not being judged on "balance of probabilities" (as it should be), instead it seems to be judged on "beyond reasonable doubt".

dismayed landlord

14:42 PM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

I tried the rent guarantor route to get the arrears using Section 8. judge decreed that as the tenant had been in occupation for more than 8 years it was unreasonable to expect him to still honour the agreement. Another case when the judge recommended Section 21 route as opposed to section 8. The system is not fit for purpose already but clearly the powers that be want to make it even worse. They have tipped the scales. Enough is enough for me.

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