Potential Deposit dispute but I am working abroad!

by Readers Question

4 years ago

Potential Deposit dispute but I am working abroad!

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Potential Deposit dispute but I am working abroad!

I have a dispute with a previous tenant on the return of deposit (in DPS) and the difference in our positions is quite large.

At the end of the tenancy I had to do over £3000 worth of work to make it lettable again. Much of this was due to neglect and lack of cleanliness from the tenants, 3 young students, who stayed there for two years.

I said that I would return approximately 70% of their deposit so charging them only 30% of my real costs of rectifying the damages. This equates to approx £1000 and in my view a very fair deal. They have come back and flatly refused my offer and said they would like to pay for only £300 of the damages otherwise they will go to a solicitor etc. and given me 7 days to accept. As I am currently working abroad on a contract I cannot easily come back if I am required physically. Therefore I would like to know if

1. Should I call it a day and accept their offer as the DPS will favour the tenants anyway and it could get protracted?

2. Or stand my ground, make them a counter offer and if not acceptable go to the DPS dispute resolution?

3. can they bypass the DPS by engaging a solicitor?

Help

Rohitdeposit



Comments

Neil Patterson

4 years ago

Using the dispute resolution service would be the obvious answer.

However, do any readers have experience of this considering Rohit is working abroad?

Chris Sheldon

4 years ago

Hi Rohit

The fact that you are abroad should not be an issue as the initial part of the DPS can be done online.

Assuming you have all the relevant documentation to support your claim i would submit your offer to the tenants using the DPS which they can then choose if they wish to refuse or not.

You have done the right thing apportioning the costs as this is exactly what an adjudicator will do.

If they dispute your offer the tenant can submit a counter offer which you can then refuse if you wish, after this you can enter into a dispute.

As you are abroad i would ensure that either the address listed for you on the service details section of the DPS are addressed to either your address abroad or alternatively to a family member as they will send a claim form out to this address. I would suggest using a family member as international post can be slow at the best of times.

Simply fill out the form, attach all your evidence and return to the DPS, make it very clear that you have apportioned the cost already.

Inevitably, you will receive a counter reply from the tenant which you then have the opportunity to respond.

After this the evidence is submitted to an Independent case examiner (ICE) who will adjudicate and his decision is final.

However, if you are unhappy with the decision you can then proceed to a small claims court. I have never done this, but i would imagine that if a claim has been rejected by the DPS it is less likely to be upheld in a court room.

I don't understand why people think that ICE's are biased towards a tenant i have never had an issue, the cost is always apportioned in relation to the age of the goods in question and as long as the evidence submitted is accurate, easy to understand and reasonable you shouldn't have an issue.

Good Luck

Chris Sheldon

4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Chris Sheldon" at "15/10/2014 - 10:25":

"However, if you are unhappy with the decision you can then proceed to a small claims court. I have never done this, but i would imagine that if a claim has been rejected by the DPS it is less likely to be upheld in a court room."

I didn't mean upheld i meant that i cannot see the decision being any different

Carol Thomas

4 years ago

I recently had to get a tenant out through a Section 21. She left with no problems but left me bags of rubbish and furniture and a property that needed total cleaning. She said I could keep the deposit but she had lost her paperwork. After many emails,letters and phone calls, DPS returned my deposit. As said above, it is a long-winded process but relatively straight forward. It is definitely best to contact DPS before you go any further. They will sort it out one way or another. I don't think they lean toward the tenant at all. Hope it all goes well for you.

DC

4 years ago

I had a tenant disputing end of tenancy costs to be deducted from the deposit held with DPS and to make matters worse it was actually held via a letting agent that went bust.

To cut a long story short the DPS advised me how to sign the details into my name and were very helpful in all their advice and procedural matters resulting in all bar £15 of the deposit money being paid to me. I assume they were also very helpful to the tenant and advised exactly how the procedure would go, which was probably enough to make the tenant realise that fighting a lost cause was a waste of time.

It sounds like your tenants would also be wasting their time and I'm sure a solicitor will advise them that the dispute resolution process is the correct way to go in the first place so treat their threats as hollow ones and stick to your guns!

Ian Cognito

4 years ago

Hi Rohit

DPS will want to see evidence of condition at check-in and check-out. If you provide this via a professional inventory, then you should have no problems assuming that 1) an allowance is made for fair wear and tear and 2) the cost of repair is reasonable.

Good luck!

astj n

4 years ago

Hi Rohit,

I have found myself in your situation as I spend a certain amount of time abroad.

I think you will find that the TDS have jurisdiction to adjudicate and make a decision up to the amount of the deposit only and I suspect from the information you have given that you would find yourself in the situation where your dispute could not be resolved fully to your satisfaction by TDS. Add to that, the fact that many landlords are circumspect about using the TDS, believing it has a tendency to favour the tenant, then I suggest this is not your best avenue.

If your original claim of £3,000 was soundly based, ie you have evidence to support the damages and amounts you are claiming – invoices and, ideally, timed and dated photographs, also checkin and checkout reports, records of any inspections during the tenancy and letters your wrote following those inspections and you have made due allowances such as for reasonable wear & tear then you are being over-generous, in my opinion in even offering £1,000 settlement. If you are considering accepting £300 then I suggest you concede now as the amount is hardly worth the admin. you will face and the hassle.

In your position I would discount the TDS and make a claim in the small claims court (fast track County Court) procedure. You can get all the information and details and form on the internet (start with https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/going-to-court) and you have a choice of doing the whole thing on line or by downloading the forms and following the manual procedure.

I too let to students and I would strongly recommend you make your claim against the guarantors and not the tenants, but even if you did not take the precaution of sureties cite the tenants. You may be pleasantly surprised at the change of position once the process gets under way.

If you go this route it would be interesting to know how you get on.

All the best

Freda Blogs

4 years ago

I had a similar situation a couple of years ago, also with students.

I suggest you read the DPS small print very carefully, as both parties have to agree to dispute resolution. You may choose not to agree at this stage (but keep this in reserve as an option) and continue to have a dialogue with the students, as this may lead to an agreement without having to go through the formal DPS procedures.

I was confident I had all the relevant evidence to support my case. The students (and a parent who should have known better) were just being difficult and arbitrarily thinking of a number that they were prepared to pay, irrespective of their contractual liabilities and had no evidence to support their view. I invited them to justify their view with reason and evidence, which of course they could not do (and, in my experience are too lazy to do), and they want their money quickly - so they caved in, and dispute resolution was avoided.

In your situation, I would reiterate your present offer at the lesser amount and if they don't agree and it has to go to dispute resolution, you will seek the full amount of the deposit or your actual losses (assuming you can support those figures and your paperwork is watertight).

This approach might also make it easier to conduct your correspondence by email rather than having to produce your paperwork whilst you are abroad.

I doubt they will go to a solicitor, and if they do, will probably get very short shrift, or if the solicitor is a friend of the family, they might just agree to send a letter to intimidate you. Simply ask the solicitor for his clients to provide justification and evidence to support their case.

Good luck.


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