How do I cut the agent out of the DPS deposit return loop?

by Readers Question

9:14 AM, 4th May 2020
About 5 months ago

How do I cut the agent out of the DPS deposit return loop?

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How do I cut the agent out of the DPS deposit return loop?

My daughter rented out her flat through lettings agent. The tenant subsequently left and the property was checked. The Agent used a third party to undertake the check.

The flat was left with a number of faults , the main one being that the front entrance door had been jimmied open breaking the main door frame. The neighbour had indicated that this was after a late night out, forgot keys and the boyfriend had jimmied the door open.

The cost of the repair, given that it is an entrance door to the flat, had to be in keeping with the flat’s legal requirements for fire doors etc, was substantial and in fact more than the deposit taken.

My daughter had a number of problems with the agent namely that they had not undertaken the periodical visits. My daughter concluded her association with the Agent and put the flat up for sale.

The problem is that the tenant left in September, 2019 and it is now the 1st of May, 2020. She has still not received the deposit back from the tenant. The Agent informs her that the tenant has refused to respond to the DPS. After some pressure from my daughter, the Agent contacted DPS in February 2020. There is still no communication regarding the return of the deposit.

In attempting to contact the DPS, my daughter was told that it had to be the agent who needs to communicate with them. There is still no suggestion that the agent actually used the DPS for the deposit.

My daughter is now being chased by the agent for the fee for the final check, made by the third party after the tenant left. It is now more than 7 months after the tenant has left.

My main question is, how does my daughter communicate with the DPS to get her deposit back, and can she remove the Agent from the equation of talking to DPS to find out where this deposit is?

Many thanks

David



Comments

Neil Patterson

9:19 AM, 4th May 2020
About 5 months ago

Hi David,

First thing to check is was the deposit protected.

DPS: "Where’s my deposit?
Use our deposit checker to see if we’re protecting your deposit."
>> https://www.depositprotection.com/im-a-tenant/id-like-some-renting-guidance/where-s-my-deposit/

Lindsay Keith

11:26 AM, 4th May 2020
About 5 months ago

Your query says you are uncertain if the agent used the DPS for the deposit? Did agent say they did? Get that answer as Neil P above advises. If the answer is negative, where did the agent put it? If procedure not complied with, he could have dumped you in bad trouble? How much is the bill for the incompetent final check, if it was done at all? Is the agent still in business after all the virus disturbance and likely very little profitable work in their office? Tell them they are not getting a penny from you until they have satisfied you regarding the deposit and then you will challenge the bill for the incompetent check.

Suggest you ask Property 118 for a referral to a competent solicitor in this field to consult if you get nowhere or the agent threatens proceedings.

Graham Bowcock

11:26 AM, 4th May 2020
About 5 months ago

Hi David,

I think your daughter needs to find out the detail of the protection, which obviously the agent should have done for her. If it's DPS then they should provide a certificate. Whatever they have done then they must be able to tell her and she needs to firmly demand the information.

It is possible to transfer responsibility from agent to landlord (with DPS), but I am not sure if it's too late once the tenant has gone. It does need to sitting agent to deal with it, though, so that may be a problem.

I think your daughter is right to withhold the check out fee on the basis that it has not been completed satisfactorily.

The costs of damage and repairs is really one for the tenant as they caused it, but if the agent has some responsibility (your daughter would need to check her terms to see what the agent is obliged to do) then you could fire a rocket across their bows and suggest they put things right. That might inspire them to act!

Seven months is far too long for this to be sorted.

SAJ

15:02 PM, 4th May 2020
About 5 months ago

Interested in the comment related to DPS and Agent responsibilities. Have a situation from summer last where tenants left owing rent and not completing works to leave premises in satisfactory condition (5k+). Evidence bundle provided by Landlord after trying to reasonably negotiate with tenants direct. Then to Agent who submitted to DPS. DPS responded briefly months later to say tenants disputing and are not willing to take DR route and wish to go to court so DPS cannot do anymore. Agent likewise. No communication from tenant. Deposit remains with DPS. Where does the Landlord go from here?

AlistairN

15:38 PM, 4th May 2020
About 5 months ago

Hello David.
I just tried using the website as Neil suggested - I didn't find it helpful I'm afraid as it only checked the DPS register.
Apparently there is not a single register for all 3 organisations, who provide DEPOSIT PROTECTION eg Deposit Protection Service, My Deposits and Tenancy Deposit Scheme,( these names are from the website https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection) to register the deposit with. This would mean that a worried tenant or guarantor could go to the register to check that a deposit has been correctly protected. To expect that a tenant or guarantor already very worried and probably not thinking straight, should know the names of the 3 bodies in the first place is a big ask and then apply to each one in turn is wholly unreasonable. This seems to me a gross omission in the original enabling 2006/7 legislation and should be challenged and changed ASAP. PLEASE NOTE 118 and NRLA.
I've used My Deposits since the outset in 2007.

Rob Crawford

18:00 PM, 4th May 2020
About 5 months ago

I would ask the agent for evidence of them protecting the deposit. If this is not forthcoming, report them to ombudsman.

David Price

12:04 PM, 10th May 2020
About 4 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 04/05/2020 - 18:00
I reported my letting agent, now ex, to the ombudsman for a similar misdemenour and was awarded £500 compensation.

Ash

10:24 AM, 13th May 2020
About 4 months ago

Hi All,
Just a quick follow up to my question. The Agent finally gave my daughter the ref to the deposit and both parties are attempting to resolve the matter amicably. It seems that there was a glitch in the system whereby the Agent had not progress the deposit. Awaiting as to progress. Again many thanks for all advice. Much appreciated.


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