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    • AI1989
    • By AI1989 19th May 17, 6:40 PM
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    AI1989
    Landlord Dispute - Tenancy Deposit
    • #1
    • 19th May 17, 6:40 PM
    Landlord Dispute - Tenancy Deposit 19th May 17 at 6:40 PM
    Hi all,

    A long time lurker to these forums, and any help to my query would be gratefully received.

    I have recently moved out of a rented property into another one with a different landlord. Approximately four days before I left the previous property I discovered that the landlord hadn't protected my deposit or served the prescribed information in accordance with s.213 of the Housing Act 2004. Whilst I would have been happy to let this go, the landlord is now claiming for the full deposit amount owing to damage to the property etc.

    As a result I sent her a letter before action stating that I would like the full return of the deposit and two times the deposit as allowed under the act in order to be fair and reasonable. I appreciate that existing landlords have quite strong views on this, but her behaviour during and after the end of my tenancy has ruined what was a quite amicable relationship up until the point she asked me to leave her property.

    In response her solicitor has sent me a letter stating that they do not accept the claim, although they are willing to offer the full return of the deposit?! The solicitor's letter is riddled with mistakes, for example stating that there is no claim under s.214 of the act because failing to provide the prescribed information is not covered. This despite my citing case law through my very basic use of google e.g. Suurpere v Nice or Ayannuga v Swindell.

    The claim of damage to the property is completely unfounded, and I am happy to argue that point in court if it ever got to that stage. For example she claims that she tried to contact me on multiple occasions to discuss this, but she can't provide any evidence to back that up. Indeed some of her claims are not only incorrect but outright lies. For example, she has said she has tried to contact me to resolve the dispute. Yet, the text message I sent to her three days after we moved out asking if there were any issues was read, but was never responded to - the joys of iMessage!

    She is also claiming that because the rent was paid late on a few occasions, she reserves the right to counterclaim on that basis; for the number of days it was paid late at 8% above base rate. I freely admit that in certain months the rent was paid late, by no more than 2-3 days. However it was never in arrears i.e. a month behind, and at the time I left the property not a penny was owing. Throughout the tenancy she never exercised her right to add a late fee to the rent.

    My question is, given that I was never in arrears, I left no monies outstanding to be paid and she didn't exercise her right to add a late fee during the tenancy, does she have any legal right to do so as a counterclaim? In your experience ladies and gents is there any case law which you have knowledge of which would make it clear for both parties as to where we stand on this issue, i.e. has a precedence been set which could be argued in court?

    Thank you for your time ladies and gents!

    A.
Page 1
    • KILL BILL
    • By KILL BILL 19th May 17, 7:08 PM
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    KILL BILL
    • #2
    • 19th May 17, 7:08 PM
    • #2
    • 19th May 17, 7:08 PM
    The Law states with regard to the protection of the deposit that this must be deposited in a scheme and that the tenant be provided within the prescribed information within 30 days that you passed the deposit to landlord/ and or agent.

    Furthermore the case law refers that the tenant would be entitled to the return of the deposit and UPTO 3 times the amount of the deposit.

    Upto Three times of the deposit would be down to the judge on the day of hearing if you decided to pursue through the court.

    Speaking from personal experience when i took my landlord to court was that i got my deposit back and a further sum of 1x my deposit.

    At the end of the day she would have to prove the damage - was an inventory done before you moved in and what does she specifically state was damaged - did you or have you taken photos of the property to dispute her claims
    • AI1989
    • By AI1989 19th May 17, 7:24 PM
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    AI1989
    • #3
    • 19th May 17, 7:24 PM
    • #3
    • 19th May 17, 7:24 PM
    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for your reply, it's really helped. I didn't take any photos at the start of the tenancy, but then again neither did she. At the end of the tenancy I took photos as to how we left it. My opinion is that there is no impartial comparison that can be made, and given that the onus is on her to prove the damage, I feel quite confident in this area. The property was originally shared with another tennant, I then took it over all to myself.

    Do you have any thoughts on her counterclaim over late payment of rent? Given the factors in my first paragraph?
    • andrewjb3
    • By andrewjb3 19th May 17, 8:56 PM
    • 22 Posts
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    andrewjb3
    • #4
    • 19th May 17, 8:56 PM
    • #4
    • 19th May 17, 8:56 PM
    Hang on - what does the bit about sharing with another tenant mean...? Who was the original tenancy with? Individual AST's, or a single joint one? Who paid the deposit? If a single tenancy, who was the lead tenant? What exactly happened when you 'took over'? Was a new tenancy signed? We need full details to be accurate.
    • KILL BILL
    • By KILL BILL 19th May 17, 9:34 PM
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    KILL BILL
    • #5
    • 19th May 17, 9:34 PM
    • #5
    • 19th May 17, 9:34 PM
    see below reply
    Last edited by KILL BILL; 19-05-2017 at 9:39 PM. Reason: see below
    • KILL BILL
    • By KILL BILL 19th May 17, 9:38 PM
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    KILL BILL
    • #6
    • 19th May 17, 9:38 PM
    • #6
    • 19th May 17, 9:38 PM
    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for your reply, it's really helped. I didn't take any photos at the start of the tenancy, but then again neither did she. At the end of the tenancy I took photos as to how we left it. My opinion is that there is no impartial comparison that can be made, and given that the onus is on her to prove the damage, I feel quite confident in this area. The property was originally shared with another tennant, I then took it over all to myself.

    Do you have any thoughts on her counterclaim over late payment of rent? Given the factors in my first paragraph?
    Originally posted by AI1989
    Did she ever write to you to remind you on the months that the rent was late and stating that she was going to charge 8% late fee ?

    Or has she only raised this when you are leaving the property.

    If she did it only when you left the property and never raised the issue before then i doubt that the judge will peanilse you for that or if they did it would only be very nominal and certainly nothing compared to your claim for the non protection of deposit.
    • AI1989
    • By AI1989 20th May 17, 1:32 PM
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    AI1989
    • #7
    • 20th May 17, 1:32 PM
    • #7
    • 20th May 17, 1:32 PM
    Hi Andrew,

    I originally rented the property with a separate individual, who had a separate AST agreement to me i.e. I had Bedroom 1 with access to communal areas, and he had Bedroom 2 with access to communal areas. We paid separate deposits. When he left I asked to take on the property by myself. The landlord drew up a new AST agreement to cover the entire property.

    Reference the late fee, she sent a message once or twice, put it was only to say the money wasn't in her account. She never mentioned the 8%, in fact, this is the first time since ever.
    • KILL BILL
    • By KILL BILL 20th May 17, 2:31 PM
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    KILL BILL
    • #8
    • 20th May 17, 2:31 PM
    • #8
    • 20th May 17, 2:31 PM
    Hi Andrew,

    I originally rented the property with a separate individual, who had a separate AST agreement to me i.e. I had Bedroom 1 with access to communal areas, and he had Bedroom 2 with access to communal areas. We paid separate deposits. When he left I asked to take on the property by myself. The landlord drew up a new AST agreement to cover the entire property.

    Reference the late fee, she sent a message once or twice, put it was only to say the money wasn't in her account. She never mentioned the 8%, in fact, this is the first time since ever.
    Originally posted by AI1989

    bearing in mind that she only sent a email stating that it was not in her account - i dont think that a court will find that she has been put into hardship for the few days late that it was. Even if they did it would not amount to a few pounds if that.
    • parkrunner
    • By parkrunner 20th May 17, 2:37 PM
    • 489 Posts
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    parkrunner
    • #9
    • 20th May 17, 2:37 PM
    • #9
    • 20th May 17, 2:37 PM
    In response her solicitor has sent me a letter stating that they do not accept the claim, although they are willing to offer the full return of the deposit?!
    Originally posted by AI1989
    Take it and move on, life's too short.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 20th May 17, 4:42 PM
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    G_M
    You cannot claim the 2 x deposit. Only a court can award that.

    The LL has offered to return your deposit in full. This seems a fair compromise. Accept and move on.
    • AI1989
    • By AI1989 20th May 17, 11:45 PM
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    AI1989
    Parkrunner/G_M, thanks for your advice, recognise that I can't 'claim' that amount, I've asked for it to be fair and reasonable in order for us to settle this out of court and avoid the additional costs that would fall on her e.g. an application for my fees to be covered etc.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 21st May 17, 12:20 AM
    • 40,067 Posts
    • 45,753 Thanks
    G_M
    'Fair and reasonable' is what your landlord has offered you. A full return of the deposit you paid him, with no further dispute over deductions for the damage which may or may not have occurred.

    You will thus not be out of pocket in any way.

    Asking for an additional amount from your landlord is simply money-grubbing and greedily hoping to make a bit extra free cash.

    This is a moneysaving website forum, not a moneymaking forum, and certainly not a forum to encourage exploitative moneymaking.
    • saajan_12
    • By saajan_12 22nd May 17, 10:50 AM
    • 550 Posts
    • 360 Thanks
    saajan_12
    Deposit: You are correct that failure to serve PI does kick off the 1-3x deposit penalty, but it is at the very low end of the scale in infractions of s.214 so is likely to result in a 1x penalty. However as the LL/LA has offered a settlement that would leave you not out of pocket and you are claiming much more than what (I think) the court might find reasonable, you may not be awarded full costs. Also by refusing to settle for full deposit, the LL/LA can claim damages – they may have other proof such as an inventory before you moved in or receipts when things were purchased new. You say the claim of damages is unfounded, but you only mention the false claims regarding texts back and forth, not the actual damages. There is always a risk at court.

    Late fees: If these are mandated in the agreement, the LL / LA can claim them upto 6 years later unless they explicitly altered the contract and said they wouldn’t be due. Not claiming them early enough or choosing to give you a pass is not sufficient. You are in arrears the day after rent is due, even if just a couple of days late.

    You can of course pursue the 1-3x deposit penalty in court – beware you MAY be hit with damage costs, court costs and late fees deducted which MAY leave you worse off than the full deposit return settlement, before you even get to the hassle and time cost.
    • ThePants999
    • By ThePants999 22nd May 17, 12:47 PM
    • 710 Posts
    • 790 Thanks
    ThePants999
    I would recommend that you settle for (a) the full return of deposit and (b) an agreement that this is full settlement of anything with respect to the tenancy, i.e. they can't later claim for damages or late fees.
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 22nd May 17, 1:23 PM
    • 5,639 Posts
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    TBagpuss
    Check your tenancy agreement. Does it say anything about interest on late fees.

    (Also, I suspect that the 8% comes from the fact that tat is the current County Court Judgement rate - it is 8% per year. So for instacne if your rent was £800 month and you were 10 days late the daily interest she might be able to claim would be (£800 x 0.08) / 365 = £0.175, x 10 (the days late) = £17.53.
    So if you were only ever a few days late, unless your rent was very high, it's likely that any sums involved would be pretty small.

    That said, I would follow the advice above and make sure that you explicitly confirm, and get it in writing, that if you accept the full deposit back it is in full and final settlement of anything you owe them, or they owe you.
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