Non protection of ex-tenants deposot

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    Non protection of ex-tenants deposot

    I owned a house in Swansea and when I got a new job and moved back to my parents in mid wales I rented the house to one tenant to cover the mortgage while I tried to sell it. When she moved in in 2014 I tried to register the deposit in an approved scheme, however she refused to give me her email address, and stupidly i didn’t chase her enough for it and so it wasn’t registered.

    Eventually with her thwarting efforts to sell by taking down ‘for sale’ signs and refusing access to the house I gave her notice and she moved out in December 2016. I returned her deposit of £400, eventually sold the house (at a loss)and vowed never to be a landlord again.

    this week I’ve had a shock as I’ve received a letter from a solicitor as she’s claiming against me for not protecting her deposit. They acknowledge deposit was returned immediately but apparantly i’ve breached twice as the agreement short hold tenancy went periodic so am liable for up to £2,400. They’ve offered a part 36 offer of £1600 (2* deposit * 2) plus costs of approx £300 which adds up to almost £2k. I’m a nurse and do not have that kind of money, I still live with my parents as I haven’t been able to afford to buy again.

    I admit it’s my fault as I was stupid and naiive not to protect the deposit however I’m not sure now what to do. I can’t afford a solicitor but reading around google I also know I can’t afford to go to court as I will lose and then have to pay court fees too.

    Can i offer a lower amount than they are suggesting to make this go away or should I accept this offer? I know if I accept the offer I have to pay within 14 days and there is no way I can raise that amount of money. Whilst I breached twice it was one tenant for the time, so could I offer the one times deposit of £400 plus costs or would they reject that? I can’t find any info on how a judge might see it. I’m scared of rejecting their offer but feel they are asking for a lot of money considering her deposit was returned immediately and am too inexperienced to know is this now a haggling stage where I counteroffer lower and we eventually agree an amount?

    I’m angry with myself for not registering the deposit and accept I have to pay but am stressing about how I’m going to afford it. Any help would be much appreciated.

    #2
    If you go to court, you will lose the case because you can either show that the deposit was protected or you can't.
    And you can't, so the court will have to award a penalty.

    The lowest possible penalty is £400, the court may decide that the failure to protect was ongoing rather than two occurrences.
    They may not.
    At the time, the law was that it was two occurrences, which is no longer the case - and cases seem to be decided both ways.

    I would make a "without prejudice" offer of £800 (assuming the value of the deposit - the lowest penalty) twice, plus the costs of £300.
    I would make it clear that the tenant's outright refusal to give you an email address is the only reason the deposit wasn't protected.
    That makes no difference in reality but might affect the penalty a court would award.

    The solicitor is only interested in being paid, they will receive the £300 plus a share of the deposit (typically 25%).

    They will also know that if the case ever did come to court your offer would be admissible before the court awarded the penalty.
    So the judge would be aware that the whole case could have been avoided if your reasonable offer had been accepted.

    There's a reasonable chance that the will accept the offer - but the cost to them not agreeing is 10 minutes writing a letter asking for more.
    So it's also quite likely that they won't accept.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Am I wrong in thinking that there should be a letter before action before involving solicitors? giving the opportunity of settling before costly fees are added. Personally I would point this out to the claimant and make an offer at the lower end.

      Comment


        #4
        No, the action in letter before action is court. Nothing wrong with having a solicitor do the LBA and associated correspondences.
        I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

        I do not answer questions through private messages which should be posted publicly on the forum.

        Comment


          #5
          OP did not need Ts details to protect deposit, only her name and address of property.

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks all. So the law now would see it as one breach not two? I accept I broke the law through my own stupidity, I’m just trying to put this behind me. If I counteroffer they’ll write a letter back and their costs will just keep going up an up won’t they so wonder if i should just take this offer? If I accept their offer can I pay them in installments as I just don’t know how I’ll be able to get that sort of money together in a such a short space of time?

            Comment

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