reasons to withhold a deposit

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    reasons to withhold a deposit

    Dear all,

    Given your experience how accurate is the assertion that a Landlord only has the right to withhold a deposit for a combination of the following:
    • Breaking or Terminating a Lease Early
    • Nonpayment of Rent
    • Damage to the Property
    • Cleaning Costs
    • Unpaid Utilities
    I ask because I am currently disputing the full value of a previous deposit, the Landlord withheld the full sum because items of furniture were left within the property at the point of surrender. No further detail was provided to the DPS by them however months later I am still awaiting the adjudicator's decision and I wondered how likely it would be to fall in my favour.

    Leaving early is the same as non-payment of rent.

    Disposing of abandoned possessions seems a reasonable use to me. The deposit is against costs incurred by the landlord beyond reasonable use.


      Any claim against a deposit has to be for compensation for a loss arising from
      a) something that the tenant was explicitly meant to do in the contract but didn't or
      b) for a loss in value of the landlord's property beyond fair wear and tear or
      c) any other loss arising as a result of the contract that couldn't have been foreseen when the contract was signed.

      So your list is a list of possible claims, but it's not definitive.
      "c" is also applicable for a claim by the tenant against the landlord (without there being a deposit available).

      If something was left in the property it would fall into category "c", unless there was an agreement you could leave anything there when the tenancy ended.

      The landlord can't just keep all of a deposit on that basis, though.
      They are only entitled to recover their actual costs, which have to be kept to a reasonable minimum.

      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).


        Leaving the items there wasn't the best idea.

        You can't just dump a load of furniture on someone and expect them to store them at their cost.
        There's no "chain of custody" to preserve - neither of you is a police force.

        Nor can you make a claim for loss in value and then expect the person you're claiming from to dispose of your belongings at their cost (whether they recover that cost or not).
        The damage doesn't make the landlord responsible for your possessions.

        That also works entirely against you - your claim is that the goods have been reduced in value is undermined by the assertion that they have a value to the landlord to use to recover their loss.

        And for the avoidance of doubt, you can't "surrender" the title to goods to a party unwilling to accept that title.

        If I were your landlord I'd deduct the disposal costs from your deposit and use your abandonment of the items as evidence that they had such little value in the first place that any damage done to them was irrelevant.
        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).


          There hadn't been any wrongful interference.

          Wrongful interference requires one or more of:
          (a)conversion of goods (also called trover),
          (b)trespass to goods,
          (c)negligence so far at it results in damage to goods or to an interest in goods.
          (d)subject to section 2, any other tort so far as it results in damage to goods or to an interest in goods.

          There is no dispute about title, either, unless the landlord has claimed the items were his.
          The title holder was, and is, you.

          Section 5 is an instruction to a court resolving a dispute.
          It doesn't lay out a process for an owner of goods to follow.

          You've dumped the items on someone.
          He is obliged to make reasonable efforts to return them and then can dispose of them and then recover any associated costs from you.
          They can't make money selling them, because that money would be due to you and they'd hold it on trust for you.

          On the other hand, the landlord can't simply withhold all of the deposit without reason and can only claim for any loss (which has to be kept to a reasonable minimum).
          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).


            You should have removed the items and sued the landlord, possibly as a coutnerclaim for any other deposit reductions

            The Act you refer to is to protect the landlord from claims of misappropriation, not to allow you to force ownership onto the landlord.


              There are no rules which govern what a tenancy deposit covers - it is solely a matter of contract. What does the tenancy agreement say the deposit covers?


                If you abandoned items when you surrendered the property the landlord is entitled to the cost of disposing of them. If they had value then the landlord can sell some or all of them to recover costs.

                Why did you leave items in the property - and from what you say you continued to leave them there when you knew they were being damaged? If I was an adjudigator faced with your evidence I'd be inclined to accept the landlord's claim for costs of disposal.

                If they were damaged before your tenancy ended then you should have disposed of them and added the cost of doing so to your claim for damages.


                  Originally posted by SE_Renter
                  So would this case not fall under c) in the above?
                  The damage happened prior to the abandonment of the goods and there's no evidence that the landlord has appropriated the goods at all.

                  Prior to the start of works I contacted both the landlord and the contractor to list the items that would be present, I received assurances that they would be covered (in writing) only to subsequently find that no effort to protect the items had been made, they had been piled up, trampled over and damaged. I deliberately took photographs prior to the works and then at various stages throughout to show the deterioration of the condition of the items as the works progressed.
                  That pertains to your damage claim and has nothing to do with a decision to leave them when you left or their subsequent treatmeant.
                  Although it does sound like a sensible thing to have done.

                  The landlord also also sought no permission of his contractors to enter, didn’t properly inform me of any of the works that were taking place and when and then in the end I am left with substantial damage to my property that I am expected to then store at my cost until such a time as a court rules on the case?
                  No, there's no need to store the goods anywhere.
                  No court is going to examine them.

                  This is a compensation claim and the level of decision is on the balance of probabilities.
                  Your photographs would be more than enough evidence.

                  It might actually have been better to dump them or sell them for whatever you could get.
                  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).


                    Summary to echo the above: OP seems to be asserting that landlord cannot in principle charge for disposing of the goods he has abandoned. This is a nonsense -- as are the various reasons provided.


                      Originally posted by SE_Renter

                      I’m sorry but this is completely incorrect. The landlord hasn’t “charged” for disposing of goods merely unilaterally withheld the entire deposit because goods weren’t removed.

                      Kindly read threads before posting otherwise your comments are nothing other than an expression of ignorance
                      Ignorance eh. Deposits have nothing to do with cost actually incurred, they have to do with loss which can be purely notional - and the loss here is (in part) the cost of disposal (and inability to use the property etc etc).

                      Your various arguments amount to nothing at all. You dumped a load of trash in a property you were supposed to have cleared, and are now making spurious arguments. Good luck.


                        Originally posted by SE_Renter

                        Knowing all this the Landlord proceeded to simply dispute the entire deposit amount, they didn't submit any claim for cost recovery (although they actually have now tried to do this today, some 3 months after the deadline for the submission of evidence) and I have been left awaiting the outcome.
                        So the landlord has submitted a claim for costs that presumably includes the cost of disposing of items you abandoned. You havent made it clear whether you are claiming for damage before you left the property or afterwards - but it appears to be afterwards and you expected the landlord to store your goods and protect them from damage until such time as you could be bothered to do something about them. You've also been going back into the property after you claim to have left - with or without the landlord's consent?


                          Drip feeding does not help you get a good answer.Why were you temporarily rehoused from a 2 bed house to a furnished flat- if work was taking place in the house presumably this was a result of some sort of damage? What type of property are you currently in? You should still have disposed of the damaged items when you surrendered the tenancy and added that cost to your damages claim. Has that claim now been decided?


                            We need to home in on the essential issues here.

                            The first question is: What is the deposit expressed to be for? The deposit cannot be used to cover any debt owed by the tenant to the landlord if the terms on which it held do not allow it. The deposit is the tenant's money and using it for an unauthorised purpose is theft.

                            The second question is: If the deposit is (amongst other things) expressed to be available to cover any damages for breach of a term of the tenancy, can the landlord use it to cover any expense incurred in connection with the removal of the tenant's belongings left in the property at the end of the tenancy? That depends on the terms of the tenancy. The terms must include something like a provision requiring the tenant to remove all his belongings / return the property with vacant possession or to reimburse the landlord the cost of removal.

                            The third question is: If the cost of removal is not covered by the deposit what can the landlord do? He can only deal with the tenant's belongings in accordance with the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.


                              Many thanks,

                              I removed my subsequent posts as they were rather diluting the issue rather than clarifying it.

                              In my particular case there is a provision in the agreement regarding vacant possession:

                              8.37. To deliver up the Premises to the Landlord with vacant possession at the end of the tenancy in the same

                              good and clean state of repair and decoration as they were in at the commencement of the Term (fair wear and

                              tear and damage by accidental fire excepted), and pay for the repair or replacement of any items of the

                              fixtures, fittings and appliances which have been damaged, destroyed or lost.

                              My original question was whether it could be deemed reasonable that a landlord unilaterally withhold the entire deposit sum because items were left in the property, not to submit a cost or statement of loss but instead just to completely withhold.

                              Subsequently the landlord has attempted to quantify this "loss" but not until months after the dispute proceedings had commenced and long after any deadline for the submission of evidence.


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