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Deposit protection dispute

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Author Topic: Deposit protection dispute  (Read 124 times)
Newbie
Posts: 6

Currently undergoing a dispute!

« on: November 01, 2021, 02:48:56 PM »

Hello all,

Having been reading obsessively some of the posts on this topic on the website, I wanted to set out my own issue. I would be very interested in any thoughts/comments.

---

My partner and I ended a six-year tenancy (AST + statutory PT) in May. At the end of the tenancy, we recieved an email from the agent saying the landlord would take a large part of the deposit. It was clear to us, however, that the deductions were excessive and we took this to the dispute service.

- Upon doing my own research, we found that our deposit had been protected. We then wrote a polite email saying that we believed there had been a breach of s213, asking for 2x the deposit.

Our reasoning was:
- We were very good tenants and always paid rent on time. We caused no damage to the property or any other issues for the landlord.
- We did, however, have some issues with quite serious issues with repairs. In general, the level of "service" we received was very low.
- The landlord is a professional property investor, with a multimillion pound portfolio. They have been renting properties for many years.

We have not had a response yet so now intend to issue a letter before action.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2021, 12:53:36 PM by rhj1992 »
Full Member
Posts: 195

I like property

« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2021, 02:53:30 PM »

Don't look to avoid going to court.  This is the last thing the agent wants if they haven't protected the deposit in time or sent the details to yourself.  They're playing hardball in the hopes that you;l back down.

Look into court options asap is my advice.
Newbie
Posts: 6

Currently undergoing a dispute!

« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2021, 02:58:40 PM »

Sorry, I should be clear that this point - "While we want to avoid going to court, we are concerned about this lack of cooperation on their part and believe it would reflect badly on them in court - is what we would tell to the agent/landlord in setting out our settlement offer.

If we need to go to court we will do, but we would obviously rather reach an agreement without involving judges, people's taxes etc. We are just communicating our preference for a negotiation over a court claim.
Global Moderator
Hero Member
Posts: 4330

Abuse Officer

« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2021, 10:21:45 AM »

The other side is already way past the timeframe for when your Deposit should have been returned. Why hang around? Why are you waiting another 2 weeks? Why not just tell them that a) you're about to initiate a Deposit Dispute via the established process and let a third party rule (likely in your favour, but we can't guarantee that) unless you get a satisfactory resolution within, say, 48 hours... and, also, either add-in now (or keep it separate) that you're b) considering progressing the failure to protect properly angle... you have plenty of time to act on that one, it certainly doesn't have to be now, or linked... might be wise to fight one battle first and concentrate your efforts.

The Agent / Landlord needs to be aware that the onus of evidence will be upon them in the ADR process... it is a free (no cost) process, but not free in terms of their time or effort... and the outcome is much more likely to fall your way (assuming you are realistic in your assessment). So, with ADR, they're looking at a whole load of effort for radically reduced outcomes (normally). Most sensible Landlords would then either just put their hands-up - to avoid the effort - or negotiate their demands down to a point where neither side is especially happy with what they got, but is happy to move on.
Newbie
Posts: 6

Currently undergoing a dispute!

« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2021, 10:52:20 AM »

The other side is already way past the timeframe for when your Deposit should have been returned. Why hang around? Why are you waiting another 2 weeks? Why not just tell them that a) you're about to initiate a Deposit Dispute via the established process and let a third party rule (likely in your favour, but we can't guarantee that) unless you get a satisfactory resolution within, say, 48 hours... and, also, either add-in now (or keep it separate) that you're b) considering progressing the failure to protect properly angle... you have plenty of time to act on that one, it certainly doesn't have to be now, or linked... might be wise to fight one battle first and concentrate your efforts.

The Agent / Landlord needs to be aware that the onus of evidence will be upon them in the ADR process... it is a free (no cost) process, but not free in terms of their time or effort... and the outcome is much more likely to fall your way (assuming you are realistic in your assessment). So, with ADR, they're looking at a whole load of effort for radically reduced outcomes (normally). Most sensible Landlords would then either just put their hands-up - to avoid the effort - or negotiate their demands down to a point where neither side is especially happy with what they got, but is happy to move on.

Thank you for your post.

A few points from me (which I don't expect a reply to if you're busy  :) )

"The other side is already way past the timeframe for when your Deposit should have been returned." -    I was very busy with my move after the tenancy ended, so did not get around to emailing them until 1 month after the end of the deposit. So it's my partly my fault (I suppose).

"Why are you waiting another 2 weeks?" -    No particular reason, really. It just seemed (perhaps wrongly) a reasonable time to give someone to respond. We have sent them a dossier of evidence to rebut their claims, so I want to give them time to read those.

"You have plenty of time to act on [the protection question], it certainly doesn't have to be now, or linked... might be wise to fight one battle first and concentrate your efforts. -    Yes, this is true. On the question of prescribed information/deposit protection, we have put this question to the agent: do they have evidence the information was provided to us, as we have no record of recieving this info... It has now been 7 days without answer. I had expected that they might reply with an immediate offer to settle on both counts. Surely if they have breached these rules (and realised this), it is unwise for them to carry on arguing the deposit deductions? Nothing in their deductions claim is what you would call "serious" damage - i.e. the kind of thing for which you might instigate a counter claim. It is all cosmetic.

"Most sensible Landlords would then either just put their hands-up - to avoid the effort - or negotiate their demands down to a point where neither side is especially happy with what they got, but is happy to move on. -   Yes, I can see that. My finger in the air sense is that this agency is one which prides itself on being extremely stubborn/playing hardball in these disputes.

I would also be very interested in your (or indeed anyone else's) thoughts on what a court is likely to take into account when calculating compensation - i.e. what kind of situations give rise to 2x or 3x outcomes?
« Last Edit: November 02, 2021, 10:54:59 AM by rhj1992 »
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2021, 11:50:59 AM »

It's pretty much up to the judge, as long as they can give a somewhat reasonable justification, it wouldn't be overturned on appeal.

The penalties is 1x-3x. It there have been multiple tenancies, then multiple penalties are possible. If it's just missing or late prescribed information, the penalty should tend to the low end. Professional letting agent should know what they're doing, so the penalty would tend to be higher than an "accidental" landlord renting out their old family home for the 1st time. The total penalties also has to be reasonable. While one tenancy at 3x may be right for the fact of the cases, if there have been say 5 renewal, it may be more reasonable overall to reduce some of the penalties so the overall amount isn't too high.

In your case, if the deposit was protected on time from the first tenancy, I wouldn't expect 3x. You can't get less than one assuming you prove the case. So possibly 2x if you can convince the judge that the letting agent being professional has no excuse, and then they behaved unreasonably on deductions showing their colours etc.
Newbie
Posts: 6

Currently undergoing a dispute!

« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2021, 12:02:55 PM »

It's pretty much up to the judge, as long as they can give a somewhat reasonable justification, it wouldn't be overturned on appeal.

The penalties is 1x-3x. It there have been multiple tenancies, then multiple penalties are possible. If it's just missing or late prescribed information, the penalty should tend to the low end. Professional letting agent should know what they're doing, so the penalty would tend to be higher than an "accidental" landlord renting out their old family home for the 1st time. The total penalties also has to be reasonable. While one tenancy at 3x may be right for the fact of the cases, if there have been say 5 renewal, it may be more reasonable overall to reduce some of the penalties so the overall amount isn't too high.

In your case, if the deposit was protected on time from the first tenancy, I wouldn't expect 3x. You can't get less than one assuming you prove the case. So possibly 2x if you can convince the judge that the letting agent being professional has no excuse, and then they behaved unreasonably on deductions showing their colours etc.

Thank you so much for your reply. It very much confirms my reading of the situation.

We are minded to essentially ask for 2x as a settlement (1 for each breach). We were model tenants (IMHO!) and received very poor service in response to some quite serious issues. The deductions are very unfair/severe (again, IMHO) and they have been generally uncooperative and slow throughout the process. It is a very professional landlord with an 8-figure property portfolio. As you say, this is - in theory - the lowest we could get in court (unless I have misunderstood the point around multiple tenancies).
Global Moderator
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Posts: 4330

Abuse Officer

« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2021, 12:19:40 PM »

You are giving them time to scurry around in the background... tell them what you intend to do, set a deadline, do it. At this stage I'd even suggest the deadline doesn't have to be very reasonable... say, a few days. Even now it's come to light that 50% of the 2 month delay is down to you... it still doesn't change the fact they've made you wait 1 month... still way beyond the expected timescales.

Dear Agent,

As we cannot seem to resolve our Deposit deductions disagreement in a timely manner, we are advising you that we will be opening up a formal Deposit Dispute with the [insert name of Deposit Scheme] and we would intend to follow their Alternative Dispute Resolution process where an objective third-party will come to a conclusion that is, hopefully, equitable to both sides. As you'll be aware, the onus of providing all of the evidence to justify the deductions you've requested from the Deposit will be upon you. We realise this could be both time-consuming and costly for you so please be reassured that we remain open to an agreeable settlement whereby you agree that no deductions [or whatever you might actually agree with] are sought. If we do not hear back from you by COB on the 5th of November we will initiate the ADR process with [insert name of Deposit Scheme] without further notice.


Take a run at it?
« Last Edit: November 02, 2021, 12:24:07 PM by Hippogriff »
Newbie
Posts: 6

Currently undergoing a dispute!

« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2021, 12:27:21 PM »


Take a run at it?

Thank you. I will do  :)
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