Best Deposit Protection for disputes?

by Readers Question

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

Best Deposit Protection for disputes?

Make Text Bigger
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

Jim S

18:11 PM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

Taking a deposit has now become a complete joke as the deposit schemes quite literally abuse the landlord, they are supposed to work on the "Balance of probabilities" but they don't. The amount of work AND RISK involved in taking a deposit not makes taking a deposit not worth the effort and cost. There is risk because if we don't get it right then we lose our Section 24 notice and possibly have to pay large fines, the time effort and cost is significant but then we are finally abused by the deposit scheme when we come to make a claim. There is simply too much work in trying to prove your claim for a deposit, the deposit schemes try and coerce you into accepting a compromise with your tenant because you know that if it goes to adjudication you will probably lose on a technicality or they will quite simply just rule against you and then you have another fight on your hands trying to complain against them. I have complained against the DPS quite a few times and actually got extra cash out of them but obviously it was not worth the work I put in to make them pay the extra cash.
The deposit schemes are not fit for purpose and yet the landlord organizations hail them as a great success, why - because they make money out of the schemes through the insurance commissions or the interest they received from cash deposits. Its too easy for the tenant to challenge a deposit claim and then really hard work for the landlord to prove his case.
These zero deposit schemes are no good either!

Gromit

19:23 PM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Jim S at 18/05/2019 - 18:11
I totally agree except that the less savvy Tenants think they has some 'skin' in the game, think they might lose some of their Deposit. With insurance based scheme they've no skin in the game at all.
Rogue tenants will play the system BUT they still have to have the where-with-all to come up with the Deposit and first month's rent, which filters out possibly the worst tenants.

Ian Ringrose

22:38 PM, 18th May 2019
About A year ago

I have only had one dispute with a deposit, it was protected with TDS by the agent. As it was clear the tenant was not going to be reasonable, I claimed for everything that may possibly be justified.

The agent provided quotes from trades people for each issue that was very helpful as I was doing a full repaint that would have been done even if their was no damage. The agents checkin inventory was also very helpful.

TDS rewarded me 3 times as much as I would have been happy to settle for if the tenant had been reasonable. I was not expecting to do that well, they did reduce my claim by about 50%, as they said I could not claim for professional carpet cleaning as I cleaned it myself with a rental machine before the tenant moved in. My error as I should not have said I cleaned the carpet, and just used the inventory that said it was clean to a professional standard.

Frustrated

9:26 AM, 23rd May 2019
About A year ago

My husband and I have been renting our 4 properties for 15 years or so. In which time we must have had more than 20 tenancies, these of which on the whole, most have been good, honest, respectful people. Until this year we had never been in any deposit dispute with one single tenant.
Last year we had a tenant leave one of our properties six months early, into a fixed term tenancy, there were many items damaged and lost. Furthermore when she did leave, she did not return the keys for over a week. The letting agent was nt sure what to do and could nt contact the tenant. So an Abandonment Notice was issued.
With the help of our agent we eventually after nearly six month got agreement with the tenant to go to (ADR) arbitration at DPS. That is how long the tenant took, not DPS, she was denying responsibility and refusing to either release the deposit or allow arbitration.
The adjudicators were great, saw through all the lies, denials and non sense put up by the tenant and their guarantor. We were awarded £880 of the £1000 held. But there was far in excess in damages, lost rent and unpaid rent than the agent entered into ADR. He said that it was nt a smart idea to go into this with £2-3,000 claim. Which we agreed.
After the adjudication we felt confident that the £1,500 we were still out of pocket, could be recovered from the guarantor. Who was a homeowner and Civil Servant employed with local Government. Wrong, he too just denied and lied as the tenant had done. After getting a solicitor involved at a cost of £500 we decided to take it to Small Claims.
Fast forward to yesterday: Many of the items we sought to claim were 'set in stone' or so we thought, as they were terms and conditions of the AST drafted by a well known agency, in accordance to Government legislation.
These were items such as end of tenancy professional clean, cost of re letting fees and lost rental income if the contract was broken prematurely. Furthermore, several items that were damaged or removed appeared on the professional independent Inventory check, conducted by an accredited member of IAIC VeriSmart, including photos. We also had witness statement from two parties, neighbours, to say that the tenant was still accessing the property after the date she had said she terminated her tenancy. This was supported by the agent who had not been handed they keys until 7 days after.
There was also three pets kept at the property, again witnesses and photographs, even in the mid term inspection report there was a cat and dog, clearly seen. All in breach of the tenancy agreement.
My claim for £1500 plus over £300 in court fees etc was dismissed by the court. I was not awarded one single penny. Not even the electrical appliances which she removed.
Today we have placed this and one other property on the market for sale. Both have good tenants, but when they leave who can be sure of the next tenant? With only 5 weeks rent as a security, and a totally biased judicial system, there's a shed load of risk with little reward.
Thanks for listening.

Seething Landlord

11:56 AM, 23rd May 2019
About A year ago

I understand your frustration but what was the reason for your claim being rejected by the Court? Did you sue the tenant as well as the guarantor?

Could it have been because under the English legal system you are only allowed one bite at the cherry and should therefore have pursued a claim in the County Court for the full amount and sought an order requiring the DPS to release the whole of the deposit to you as part of the judgment rather than choosing ADR and only claiming part of your losses?

Frustrated

12:43 PM, 23rd May 2019
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 23/05/2019 - 11:56
Thanks for the response Fergus. Sorry if this sounds a bit vague, but we are not too sure yet. As we were abroad for three months when the hearing was set. We did request a web link or third party represtation by a 'McKenzie friend'. Both which the district judge refused. We were allow attendance in written statement only a CPS 27-9 I do believe it's called. The news was sent from a gloating defendant, believe it or not. Employed by HM Probation Service!!

We only tried legal action against Guarantor, as the Tenant his daughter (and grand daughter) were on benefit (temporary sickness) was the story. Did nt think they had the resources.

Would it make any difference as this particular property was in Wales, Cardiff? Also surely what you are saying can't be true. If the deposit as it will be from next week, on,y 5 weeks rent, so say £800 and the tenant runs up three month rent arrears and wrecks the property, surely there must be a provision whereby the deposit held with TDS, DPS or MyDeposit is the lowest hanging fruit, right? This is not the limited to your claim if the house required a new kitchen, or bathroom or re carpeting for example, because someone had kept a pet Shetland pony in there unattended for a week.

Be really grateful of some more light on this please Fergus.

Seething Landlord

13:58 PM, 23rd May 2019
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Frustrated at 23/05/2019 - 12:43
I don't really think it would be of much help for me to speculate any further about the possible reasons for your claim failing. Hopefully when you receive notification of the judgment from the Court the true reason will become apparent.

By the way, I am not Fergus!

Frustrated

14:35 PM, 23rd May 2019
About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Seething Landlord at 23/05/2019 - 13:58
My apologies, got my "seething" and "dismayed" landlords confused, realise soon after I was mistaken. Many thanks never the less.

Ian Narbeth

11:07 AM, 24th May 2019
About A year ago

We use the DPS and have seldom had to have them arbitrate a dispute. Most tenants settle when we present them with photographic and documentary evidence. It is also a good idea to say to tenants: "Well I could claim for [£600] but if you agree to settle I will accept [£500]". That gives them an incentive and raises the risk of fighting.
One difficulty for landlords is that the starting position for the DPS, TDS etc. is that the deposit is the tenant's money. The landlord must establish that the tenant has breached the AST and has caused the loss being claimed and the amount claimed must be reasonable. Also the landlord gets one bite of the cherry only. If his submission is not in apple pie order, the adjudicators don't seek clarification or further particulars. They return the money to the tenant.
I suspect that many aggrieved landlords who feel they were unfairly treated did not present their cases correctly. Landlords don't know what they don't know. That highlights another difficulty that if you aren't familiar with a legal system it is difficult to get justice. In most cases it is uneconomic for landlords to employ a professional adviser. Even for a straightforward case I have had to spend 2 to 3 hours of time getting my case in order and I'm a lawyer (not a litigator but with some grey hairs and years of experience). For a layman it must be daunting.

Harlequin Garden

11:52 AM, 24th May 2019
About A year ago

It would always be the last resort - my only two have been for bills unpaid that would revert to me if left unpaid so I would actually be out of pocket if I didn't go to the Dispute Service, though the tenant actually instigated the process, I was happy to negotiate with him, and then other issues while I was at it but would have let go if it wasn't for the unpaid bills the tenant refused to pay and the other was for damage to the roof where the tenant had gone out of the window while partying and damaged the roof tiles, the deposit in no way covered this damage but was better than nothing, he apologised saying he was drunk and until the very last day agreed that I kept his deposit (didn't get it in writing) then had a change of heart and disputed it, he got it back as I hadn't include the roof in his inventory.

I don't think any of us would willingly use this not fit for purpose service.

1 3 4 5

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

Courts may adjourn possession cases without Covid-19 impact assessment

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More