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DPS paid late - advice wanted on dealing with threatening tenant

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Author Topic: DPS paid late - advice wanted on dealing with threatening tenant  (Read 119 times)
Newbie
Posts: 1

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« on: November 01, 2021, 07:05:50 AM »

We rented out house last year at the height of Covid outbreak (July 2020) and three weeks following the death of my father who lives abroad (as do I but in another country)  so I was unable to travel to visit him at all before he sadly passed as travel was forbidden from the country I live in. So for the entire length of his short illness, death, funeral and estate wrap up I was apart from him and the rest of my family and dealing with it all at a distance was very traumatic and heartbreaking.
Sadly as a result I forgot to pay the tenants deposit into a DPS.  When they asked about it some 7/8 months later I realised it had been overlooked in the horror of the funeral and grief and I wrote and apologised and set up a DPS straight away notifying them by return. I heard nothing more then when they moved out we had to ask the DPS to rule on some damages (which they ruled in the tenants favour)  and immediately after this they slapped us with a claim to settle for x3 times their rent deposit.
I know I am in breach (we have rented The house before and every time the deposit has been protected). However given the extremely difficult circumstances of the time around when they moved in I feel somewhat less guilty than I would do had i not done it at all or not been so law abiding historically (sadly just did it as I knew it was a requirement I had no idea it was so punitive it you didnít).
The question is now how to deal with the money grabbing no win/no fee lawyers who are dealing with this claim who are threatening costs and x3 compensation. Has anyone else dealt with this successfully (ie not just rolling over and paying up) but accepting that there is some breach and that the tenant is probably going to want something for nothing now that they are passed off at me for not just giving the whole deposit back uncontested!

Very disillusioned with tenants as we have tried always to be good landlords, I dealt with every request they made promptly and without issue. We tried to ask them  about whether they planned to move at the end of the tenancy and got no word back just notification a month out they would be leaving and refusing to let the agents in to show prospective new tenants around. Surely this sort of legislation is to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords keeping their money and not returning it? They were in no way disadvantaged and this is hard to see as anything other than an opportunity to extort money from me.
Any advice gratefully received as we no longer even live in the UK so going to court is going to be impossible. Has anyone argued this and won a ďreasonableĒ settlement or is it just best to pay up as you canít get a fair hearing once you are donít abide by the letter of the law? Any advice gratefully received. 
Full Member
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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2021, 09:24:02 AM »

There's no easy answer here. Try to negotiate a lower fee, explaining why you made the error.

Regardless of the reasons, you are in the wrong here.
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Abuse Officer

« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2021, 11:24:56 AM »

Sadly as a result I forgot to pay the tenants deposit into a DPS.

This is the only part of what you've written that truly matters.

Of course you can negotiate with the Solicitors who are chasing you right now. You will need to accept that you're in a negotiation now... you won't escape with no penalty, but you must try to minimise it. The Solicitor won't be interested in all your explanations and excuses... you are now a mark to them. That is all. However, the Court would be interested in all the background - especially if you can prove you have always protected Deposits before and it was only this one time you forgot - due to extenuating circumstances - and you immediately took action (you didn't just stick two fingers up at them and ignore the legislation that has been around since 2007).

So... the position you probably might take with the Solicitor is that you're fully aware you're in breach. Why deny it at this stage? You accept you'll need to pay some kind of penalty. However, you've taken advice (this forum?) and you're certain there is no way that a Court would award your ex-Tenants a penalty of 3x. The Court cannot order you to pay a penalty of £0 (because you are in breach, after all) but, taking into account all of the stuff you relayed to us (backed-up, obviously) you are confident the Court would award the lowest penalty - that being 1x.

And then offer to settle for... something. Something that is probably not 3x (otherwise why bother?)... something that is probably not 1x (otherwise why would they bother - but they might, a-bird-in-the-hand and all that)... just something you can get behind to move on with clarity and not have an unpredictable Court case hanging over you.

We have seen these kinds of negotiations succeed many times in the past.

Let's stop referring to the Solicitor as money-grabbing and the ex-Tenants as extortionists. If you'd done your job properly then the opportunity if front of them simply would not exist. There's only one person to blame for the situation you find yourself in - and, sadly, that's you.

In conclusion - don't pay up. Negotiate down from the demanded 3x to something closer to 1x. Do not let slip your concerns about having difficulties in attending Court etc.. Come across as if you'd be happy to go to Court as you've confident, but see the value in bringing this to a conclusion everyone can accept ASAP.
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« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2021, 11:27:22 AM »

Especially with Christmas coming up... it's amazing how a bird-in-the-hand can tempt people to accept something. It doesn't have to be a multiple of the Deposit - it can be a nice round number, like £1,000.
Global Moderator
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2021, 11:33:38 AM »

They were in no way disadvantaged and this is hard to see as anything other than an opportunity to extort money from me.

For you. For myself and other objective third parties looking at the facts... you're the only one who's done anything wrong here. They were disadvantaged because their Deposit wasn't protected as the law requires - I think what you mean is they didn't lose-out financially, in the end. And it's not an opportunity to extort... they are following the well-defined, well-known process to punish you for not being a good Landlord (and I know that's harsh to read... but I'm playing it back to you objectively only using the evidence you've supplied to us).

What we like to refer to this as on the forum is an expensive learning opportunity. I think I can guarantee you'll never fail to protect a Deposit again. Anyway, commence the negotiation...
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2021, 12:33:36 PM »

I do wonder if the tenants have taken action because you argued about the deposit return.If they had been hoping to take you to the cleaners I doubt if they would have drawn your attention to the oversight.You may have put their backs up by making a claim.I agree that you should make an offer,and given the circumstances they would never get 3x in court. 
Full Member
Posts: 195

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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2021, 02:41:08 PM »

Have to agree with Heavykarma. As the deposit hadn't been protected correctly in time it would have been better just to return it in full.
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