Court order to release deposit when tenancy has been surrendered?

by Readers Question

8:49 AM, 30th September 2019
About 12 months ago

Court order to release deposit when tenancy has been surrendered?

Make Text Bigger
Court order to release deposit when tenancy has been surrendered?

Does anyone have any experience in issuing a Court Order to release money held by the DPS?

Just briefly, the tenants ‘surrendered’ their tenancy by writing to the Landlord, leaving the keys in the house (and most of their furniture) and without giving notice. In their letter to him they stated that he could have the full security deposit to put towards the rent arrears and any furniture left in the property. They left without providing a forwarding address.

After logging on to the DPS and requesting the deposit is paid in full to the owner, the tenants have now disputed this and only permitted about a third to be paid to the Landlord. They are refusing the free dispute resolution service and the status of the DPS is now ‘claim in dispute – awaiting court order’

E-mail correspondence has been ignored by the tenants and any form of negotiation disregarded by them, even though after carrying out a check out it has been pointed out to them that if this goes to court then the claim against them will be considerably higher than just releasing the balance of the deposit held. i.e. cleaning, carpet cleaning and rubbish removal and presumably the month’s rent due as their notice period.

Can a Court Order be issued to the tenants at the forwarding address provided at the start of the tenancy? Can a claim be made for the month’s rent for their notice period? Can this be claimed through the Money Claim Online Service or does it have to be applied for through the County Court?

Lots of questions….your help would be appreciated

Nikki

 



Comments

Ian Narbeth

10:24 AM, 30th September 2019
About 12 months ago

Hi Nikki
I recommend you get some professional advice. If you slip up at all with your DPS claim they will return the money to the tenant before you can say "Jack Robinson".
You should put in a claim to the DPS for the full amount you will be claiming.

Seething Landlord

10:36 AM, 30th September 2019
About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 30/09/2019 - 10:24
It looks to me that the claim has already gone beyond that stage, the tenant has refused the ADR process so all that remains is for the landlord to obtain a court order for release of the deposit. This can only happen after judgment in the landlord's favour. The nature of the enquiry suggests that the landlord does not have the knowledge to progress this on her own so I agree that she would be well advised to seek professional help. She will also need to think carefully whether it is better to accept the offer already made by the tenant or risk the claim failing in court for lack of evidence, inability to prove the extent of the loss etc.

Nikki Palmer

10:41 AM, 30th September 2019
About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 30/09/2019 - 10:24
Hi Ian,
Yes this has already been done on the basis of the letter received from the Tenants saying the Landlord could have it. That's how we are aware that they are disputing it and needless to say the DPS are as helpful as a chocolate fireguard!
I am also aware that the wording of the Court Order has to refer to the DPS or it will be disregarded and that I have to notify the DPS that Court Order proceedings are being undertaken. I sort of hoped that the tenants would see reason and just agree to releasing the full amount. But can a Court Order be served at the forwarding address provided by the tenants at the start of the tenancy? Their last known address can't be used as we are already aware that they have left there and the letter sent to the owner from the TTs also states this

Darren Peters

13:19 PM, 30th September 2019
About 12 months ago

Does the fact that the tenant refused the ADR process before the ADR made any judgement count against them? Could the court bounce it down to the ADR?

Ian Narbeth

18:36 PM, 30th September 2019
About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Nikki Palmer at 30/09/2019 - 10:41
Nikki
I suggest you see a solicitor or contact Landlord Action to recover the debt.

AnthonyG

8:59 AM, 1st October 2019
About 12 months ago

I can share my experience which is that Moneyclaim Online worked well. I used the last known address for my tenants, who left with damage and refused my claim on their deposit. Their last known address was the rental property address as they did not provide a forwarding address, which was required in the tenancy agreement. Later, I was able to send to their address because they provided a working email to the deposit company. The case was then transferred to court as they disputed the claim. I had to attend. They attended with a useless friend who said he was some sort of legal adviser, but they had nothing of relevance to say in court and I was awarded the money. The deposit was released to me, but the tenants paid the rest to me only after I obtained a third party debt order by post from the court freezing their bank accounts, using the bank details used during their tenancy.
I did not use a solicitor because I would likely not have been able to get their fees back and I had ample evidence to give the court: from an inventory clerk and bills for work to put it right.

Nikki Palmer

9:39 AM, 1st October 2019
About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by AnthonyG at 01/10/2019 - 08:59
Hi Anthony,
That's really helpful thank you.

I have no doubt that there would be any question of the money due not being paid by the DPS providing the Court Order refers to it. Together with the letter from the tenants saying clearly that the deposit can be used to cover their rent arrears, a rent statement showing payments received, and a check out report outlining the other costs which are their responsibility to cover. My only concern was getting a Court Order sent to the last known address (i.e. the property address) or the forwarding address provided at the start of the tenancy. My thoughts were that a Judge may rule that this was not acceptable as we are aware that they have already left but perhaps I am overthinking it.

Quick question if you don't mind me asking, what did you mean when you said
"Later, I was able to send to their address because they provided a working email to the deposit company"?

AnthonyG

9:53 AM, 1st October 2019
About 12 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Nikki Palmer at 01/10/2019 - 09:39What I mean’t Nikki was that it was obviously only possible to send court documents to the tenants’ last known address. It was their fault if they did not send a forwarding address to me as required in the tenancy agreement.
Despite that, I tried hard to contact them and found out they provided an email address to the deposit protection company when they disputed the deposit. I used that email address to copy them the court papers. When they filed a dispute to the court they had to put their postal address on it and I used that address for any later papers.
My thought is that the court was more likely to see I was trying to be fair because of the efforts I made to contact the tenants, even though that meant I had to attend court. If I hadn’t contacted them, I would almost certainly have won a judgement in default (no defence received from the tenants). However, much harder for them to get the case reopened because they were in court.

You will appreciate I am just sharing my experience and not recommending you do the same.

Nikki Palmer

10:17 AM, 1st October 2019
About 12 months ago

I think that has been really helpful, and thank you for sharing your experience Anthony.
I also consider in this instance that being as fair as possible, even if the tenants are being obviously difficult, is the best way forward.

KarenS

11:44 AM, 5th October 2019
About 12 months ago

Baliff's had to evict my rogue tenants who had caused thousands of pounds worth of damage and still the DPS were sticky, and didn't return my deposit. I reported them to the Ombudsman and got both my deposit and compensation back.

1 2

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

First trial date December 2021!

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