Is this a deposit and can it be kept?

by Readers Question

9:03 AM, 9th August 2016
About 5 years ago

Is this a deposit and can it be kept?

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Is this a deposit and can it be kept?

We paid a £400 holding deposit (half of the full deposit amount) for a room a few days ago. The room is currently still in use and will be in use by the current tenants until the end of the month.duck

We received a receipt (with no terms and conditions) for the £400 and an email detailing the other payments we will need to make before moving in.

The ONLY thing written about the deposit is the amount paid, amount left to pay and “This deposit is held against damage and unpaid rent. When you move out, if there is no damage and all rent has been paid, it will be refunded in full.”

All our dealings have been with the landlord’s employee.

For personal reasons, we have decided we no longer want to rent this place. We let them know as soon as possible, which was less than 48 hours after the viewing.

The landlord, whose bank account the deposit was transferred to, is apparently on holiday until next week and his employee is saying we will need to wait until his return for a decision about returning our deposit.

He says it is usually non refundable.

At no point was this said this is a non refundable deposit, not verbally or in writing. I would understand losing a portion of the deposit if the room was vacant and they were losing money because of our decision, but they still have 3 full weeks to find other tenants.

Can they really keep our holding deposit money?

Esh

Comments

Kate Mellor

20:23 PM, 14th August 2016
About 5 years ago

Totally agree with Ian, not only was there no written contract explaining the terms of the holding deposit and what the conditions were under which it was held, what deductions would be made under what circumstances etc. there was also such a short time period between payment of the deposit and your notifying the agent/employee of your change of heart, (especially considering the current tenant was still in situ) that the landlord would be hard pressed to prove any material loss had occurred, which is generally considered germane to what is a suitable amount to withhold in these instances.

As you've paid the deposit into the landlords bank account, I would imagine you will have no choice but to await his/her return, however there is nothing to prevent the continued marketing of the property.

It sounds as though the landlord is not using a professional agent from what you say so if he/she refuses to refund your deposit on their return I'm not sure what your immediate recourse might be aside from a Money Claim Online (MCOL).

I would ensure that you immediately put everything regarding this in writing to the landlord in full detail, including dates and any and all relevant information, requesting a refund in full for all money paid. This will be an essential first step if you were to make a MCOL in any case and is always best practice in any dispute.

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