End of Tenancy Deposit Issues – Tenant Requests Advice From Landlords

by Readers Question

7:48 AM, 24th September 2013
About 5 years ago

End of Tenancy Deposit Issues – Tenant Requests Advice From Landlords

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End of Tenancy Deposit Issues – Tenant Requests Advice From Landlords

Hi All,

I realise this is primarily a landlords site, however nothing like hearing it from you on what will hopefully be an impartial landlord view. I like to believe I am a reasonable and honest tenant.

Background:

My landlady owns a number of properties in London (via a company). I moved in and a new AST was signed (3 bed place), as one of the previous tenants was staying it was agreed (among the tenants) the originals tenants would give £100 each (2 left, 2 came in, I was 1 of the new tenants) towards any damages that they have caused. So there was no official “check-out” for them (they were paid their deposit back in full by the landlady).
During this period the landlady placed our deposits in “insured” schemes which are OK but not great and she never dated them properly.

During the next 2 years both other tenants left any new ones came in (they swapped at different periods). New AST were created. In the interim Landlady goes into administration and the receivers stepped in. They placed our deposit into a custodial scheme.

She got out of it by selling a couple of properties and managing to refinance the remaining properties.
After she gained repossession of the property we did another tenant swap and this meant new AST and supposedly a new deposit protection scheme which we never saw (ie. she never applied for one).

Note 1: We have never missed any payments and always paid on time (for the 2.5 years I lived there).
Note 2: Landlady is still owing deposits to 2 other tenants that left almost 1 year ago (to be fair they should have applied A LOT MORE pressure but she keeps discussing different items that she wants to charge them for and delaying the process). She also seems to be dealing with them at individual level (almost as if she rent rooms out and charging for things that were never done like window cleaning).
Note 3: I took 3 days off work to make sure the property was left in excellent condition as I knew this was about to get messy (this inc professional carpet cleaners @ £115, professional cleaners suggested by her @ £135, I bought paint and brushes to make sure my room and common areas were not marked and left in pristine conditions), and paid a checkout report (although I never saw a check-in report).
Note 4: I am still liable to dispute the DPS custodial one as it was dated to finish in August (our tenancy finished in early September), however some of the names of tenants on that Deposit ID are different to the latest tenancy.

Our tenancy ended 6th Sep and the checkout report was issued 16th Sep (as inventory services agency took ages to produce the report).

Now she is doing the same to us, finding things that she maybe able to charge (including broken tile, leaking pipe, cleaning not up to standard [even though she recommended the professional cleaning company], stained sofa), given more time they will keep increasing.

Googling her name reveals some previous court cases and the cleaning company, check-out report company etc from what they told me sound as if she is the same with all her tenants in her other properties.

It obvious she does not play by the book and I have tried to be very patient and rational about all this. But to be fair to her she was patient with signing new ASTs and swapping tenants in contracts (but surely that is a saving on both sides as she does not have to market the property or have any downtime).

Questions:

  • How does she have to officially respond to checkout report and how long until we can start kicking and screaming for our deposit?
  • Given that the deposit is not in a “valid” protection scheme for the latest tenancy is there any mechanism to apply pressure? (I know landlords must place the deposits in these schemes but if they don’t they could have to pay multiples of the deposit… where can I go to talk discuss this option, I don’t want to get to this but will surely use this to keep her in line)
  • Should I dispute the deposit under the custodial scheme which has my name and 2 previous (not latest) tenants [who also have not yet seen their deposit back yet]?
  • How can I fight the several claims for several things which she wants money for?
  • Who do I go to for help on this? for example to take her to court or to dispute this end of tenancy given that it is not to my knowledge on any deposit protection scheme.

Please help, we (3 young professionals) all have 6 weeks rent tied here (not to mention 2 others who have also not yet seen their deposit back).

I appreciate all the feedback I can get. End of Tenancy Deposit Issues - Tenant Requests Advice From Landlords

I have rented different places in the UK over the last 10 years (Surrey and London), I have seen a couple of decent landlords but I have seen mostly awful ones. I do support the requirement for standards (licensing or accreditation), it is getting harder and harder to get on the property ladder and more young people will be renting for longer in the future, it is possible for landlords to keep their investments profitable and not have to play with people lives.

Many thanks

Andre



Comments

Mark Alexander

8:10 AM, 24th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Welcome to Property118 Andre. Around 20% of the readers questions here are posed by tenants. Whilst the respondents are primarily landlords, we do attempt to be as objective as possible. Sadly, ill informed and rogue landlords do earn our sector a bad name. We believe that bad landlords are in the minority and it would appear that you have had a run of bad luck. Many of us would like to see compulsory landlord education or the need to use a fully qualified letting agent. Let's hope we can look back at this thread in 10 years time and that's happened.

In the meantime, back to your situation.

Each time a new tenancy was created your landlord had 30 days to protect your deposit and issue a Deposit Protection Certificate and Prescribed Information to you. From what you have said, you should have received three sets of this information over the last two and a half years at least.

Upon moving out of the property your landlord has 14 days to agree with you the basis of what will happen with the deposit. After that period of time has elapsed, if agreement has not been reach the dispute resolution process begins. If your deposit was protected via an insured scheme the landlord MUST pay the deposit into the scheme pending arbitration. The law works on the basis that the deposit if your money and the landlord must prove a valid claim against that money.

From what you have said, it appears that you are unsure which, if any, scheme your deposit is protected with/in. This suggests that it may well not be protected and even if it is protected, that Prescribed Information and the Deposit Protection certificate may not have been served correctly. Under these circumstances you are entitled to make a claim, via the Courts, for a full refund of your deposit plus up to three times your deposit. You have up to six years to bring such a claim. Given that you appear to have had at least three tenancies during the last two and a half years you may be in for quite a windfall and your landlord may be in for quite a shock. This is because you can bring a separate claim for compensation for each tenancy.

If will not be a simple process and if you have never been to court it may be quite stressful for you. It is, however, an option.

Please bear in mind that you may need a reference from this landlord at some point. Therefore, to avoid the hassle associated with applications and Court appearances you may prefer to settle this matter with your landlord by showing her a printout of this discussion thread. However, you may decide get together with the other affected tenants and teach this landlord a lesson, it is your right, your choice.

You sound like you have learned from this experience and I'm sure you will Google your next landlord or letting agent before you commit to a property and hand over your deposit. You could also check them out of the All Agents website which is a bit like Trip adviser but for property agents, see http://www.allagents.co.uk/

I wish you well and I hope you find this useful.

Please note, the running of this website is funded entirely by donations and sponsorships. If you can help, please see >>> http://www.property118.com/have-you-had-at-least-50-of-value-out-of-property118/43590/

DC

22:35 PM, 24th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Andre,
Quite simply you (and your fellow tenants) have been treated shockingly. I go along with what Mark has already said, although worrying about a landlord’s reference from someone that obviously has no regard for how she deals with her tenants and the law would be the least of my concerns.

I’m sure most good landlords want to see the back of rogues such as this, however there is a lot of paranoia amongst us landlords concerning deposit protection legislation at present. Due to the way the legislation was poorly worded and how aspects of it have apparently been misinterpreted and in view of recent stated cases many good landlords are in fear of being caught out by it themselves. So for some of us landlords to encourage legal intervention would be akin to committing suicide. For this reason you may struggle to get the wide cross section of advice you were looking for from other landlords.

My opinion is that burying our heads in the sand is a counter-productive way of dealing with an important piece of legislation, which isn’t going to get the clarification we all need on the matter.

I would say by all means try and resolve it amicably with your landlord but I would be making enquiries to seek out a specialist legal firm to take this on for you.

I have no idea who is considered a specialist in your area, however I have read a number of useful articles posted online by a solicitor in Leeds who goes by the name of Gareth Archer of Bury and Walkers. I am in no way recommending this person or his firm, but you could start by having a look at some of his views and making your own mind up from there.

Good luck and to be honest from what you have said I think you have a pretty sound case and should be reunited with your wayward deposit plus interest in the future!

David Sweeney

14:45 PM, 26th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "DC " at "24/09/2013 - 22:35":

Great that DC has given you a 'name' if you are in the North. If you are in the South then I have no hesitation in linking to http://www.anthonygold.co.uk/. I have never used them but I don't think any of the regular posters on here would say anything negative about them.

This may be of interest too: http://tenantaction.tenancyservices.co.uk/?p=13

Mark Alexander

15:05 PM, 26th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dave Reaney" at "26/09/2013 - 14:45":

Hi Dave

Are you aware that Tessa Shepperson at Landlord Law has joined forces with Anthony Gold?
.

David Sweeney

16:51 PM, 26th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "26/09/2013 - 15:05":

Yes, and I can see nothing but good coming from that.

Mark Alexander

17:10 PM, 26th September 2013
About 5 years ago

Agreed, perfect match


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