Landlord witholding deposit

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    Landlord witholding deposit

    Hello, this is bit of a long one.
    My boyfriend and I were renting a property from a private landlord. Our flat was in a house with other two flats and the building was previously used as a guesthouse and then rebuilt into flats.
    We moved in june 2018, got a 6 month fixed contract with month to month periodic tenancy after the 6 months.
    At the end of february our landlord came in to tell us that he had an inspection from the council. Basically, he never had a planning permission to rebuild the house into self contained flats and now he was told he needs to remove the kitchen from all the flats and make a communal space. He informed us that he will do this until he gets another inspection and then sell us the cooker on the paper and bring it back to the flat. We do realize that would be illegal for us to do and he was just getting rid of the responsibility.
    Citizen advice told us the best option is to move out asap and so we did. Verbally we told him about this around 10th of March and he got a notice from us on the 14th. We moved out on the 20th. Although our contract requires us to give him a 1 month notice, he never once said he had a problem with us moving out sooner.
    Now he refused to return most of our deposit because he informed us (after we moved out) that he wanted a 1 month notice and therefore he will keep the 1 month rent on top of some (fairly ridiculous) cleaning costs.
    We want to dispute this or take it to small claims court if he doesn't wanna go through the deposit holding agency dispute process.
    What I want to know is- is there anything that would make our tenancy agreement invalid and therefore stop him from keeping our deposit? Was he even allowed to rent us the property in the first place? (he got his first enforcement notice from the council before we moved in but we didn't know). Would the agreement be made invalid by the fact that he wanted to move the kitchen out of the flat? He also never gave us EPC certificate or How To rent guide or even inventory when we first moved in. Would any of these help us?
    Thanks!

    #2
    Where is this? England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland??

    Did the landlord live in any part of the house?

    Was the deposit protected with an authorised deposit protection scheme?

    Was there an independent inventory check in and check out?

    ...?
    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


      #3
      It's in England. Landlord did not live in any part of the house, however there was two other occipied flats. He did protect the deposit with mydeposits (we want to go through their dispute process). And as far as I'm aware, there was no inventory check in or check out apart from him walking around saying "this is dirty, it wasn't dirty when you moved in" but we never signed anything on the move it (or even saw an inventory from him)

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by Saxana View Post
        We want to dispute this or take it to small claims court if he doesn't wanna go through the deposit holding agency dispute process.
        What I want to know is- is there anything that would make our tenancy agreement invalid and therefore stop him from keeping our deposit? Was he even allowed to rent us the property in the first place? (he got his first enforcement notice from the council before we moved in but we didn't know). Would the agreement be made invalid by the fact that he wanted to move the kitchen out of the flat? He also never gave us EPC certificate or How To rent guide or even inventory when we first moved in. Would any of these help us?
        You can dispute the cleaning costs.
        The landlord can claim compensation from you from any loss beyond fair wear and tear, but they have to be able to prove it.
        With no check in condition report, they can't really prove anything, and a general clean between tenants would be necessary.

        There doesn't actually seem to be any point cleaning a property before it's rebuilt.

        The contract probably isn't invalid, it takes a lot to invalidate a contract entirely.
        It might have become impossible for the landlord to honour it, when the rebuilding began, because they couldn't supply what you had agreed to rent.
        But it doesn't look like you reached that point.
        The issue is the lack of notice - in a periodic monthly contract, you have to give a minimum of a month's notice ending at the end of a tenancy period to be valid.
        It needs more than the landlord not saying anything to make your notice valid, they would need to accept it in some way (silence isn't acceptance).

        But, dispute it anyway, it's not cut and dried.
        If the property wasn't converted legally, the landlord shouldn't have been renting it at all, and there's a chance you'd win.

        I think that you have more chance in court than under adjudication, because the deposit protection company aren't legal experts and this isn't a simple case.
        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


          #5
          You have no proof you told him on 10th so you gave him 6 days notice. Normally he would be entitled to notice as per your contract and that could be over a month as it would probably need to end on the day of a rent period. However you can argue that the contract was illegal and therefore void and he's not entitled to anything. You should get your money back. Jpkeates - sounds like they moved in after the illegal conversion so contract should be void.

          Did you at least take pictures of the place when you moved out? In future take pictures when you move in and move out and make sure you return the property in the same condition or better.

          Editing to add - you will need to supply proof that the landlord should not have been renting it and it is possible its something he lied about. You need to obtain information from the council and submit to the deposit scheme. Do it promptly as some have time limits.

          Comment


            #6
            I am not as worried about the cleaning costs. Although they are higher than I believe they should be, the rent amount is much bigger concern. Obviously, we didn't exactly want to stay until he starts rebuilding our flat but I see what you mean.
            All the information I had about him having to rebuild it back was from the concils planning permissions on the website and the enforcements he got as he failed to even tell us when would all this be happening so I assume that would be enough of a proof that he was gonna rebuild it in a very near future? (according to the enforcement he got on 9/1, he had three months to do the changes which would make it until 9/4. We wanted to be out before that as we were not happy to pay rent for a place that is under a construction and not even a flat anymore

            Comment


              #7
              I think you might have an issue then.

              If the work hadn't started (and from the sound of it, wasn't even scheduled), the rent you were committed to is determined by the notice that you had to give.
              The notice period for a tenant in a monthly periodic tenancy is a minimum of a month ending at the end of a tenancy period.

              If the landlord didn't accept your notice that wasn't valid (which makes it valid), the notice was invalid and, to all intents and purposes, doesn't exist.
              You could argue that rent is only due to the date when the landlord retook possession of the property, which is, hopefully, before the end of that period - but it's a bit of a stretch.
              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


                #8
                On the other hand, an argument that OP left because they were being asked to conspire in the landlord's breaking the law and rightly chose to refuse may have some merit.

                He informed us that he will do this until he gets another inspection and then sell us the cooker on the paper and bring it back to the flat.
                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


                  #9
                  The landlord was breaking the law the moment he let flats without planning permission - and any rent he accepts he may be fined under the Proceeds of Crime Act https://www.out-law.com/en/articles/...ng-permission/ If the tenants point that out to him he may be willing to let the deposit go - especially if they suggest they will sue him for money obtained by deception.

                  We need a timeline for this. When did enforcement action begin?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    During Fixed Term T cannot serve valid NTQ, After that it should be for min 1 rental month to expire at end of next avail

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by buzzard1994 View Post

                      We need a timeline for this. When did enforcement action begin?
                      So according to the city council website, he got the notice on june 20th 2018 (day we moved in). To which he appealed saying the house is still a guesthouse- although it obviously isn't This appeal was followes by another visit from the council in November 2018 and the secons notice was served January 9th 2019, where his appeal was dismissed (because the house obviously has self contained flats) and he was given three months to remove the kitchenettes.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The LL broke local Plannine aeg rules but Council did not serve an imm Prohibition Order on the Property, requiring all Occupants to find alt accom,, but served LL with standard 3 month Improvement Notice and advice on how to comply.T IMO rent was due until LL gained lawful possession. Valid T NTQ still reqd, but IANAJ.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          He got the notice the day you moved in - but had the council visited before that? Enforcement notices are not generally issued without previous less formal attempts to persuade the landlord to take action. You want to try to establish that he knew it was illegal when he let the property. However he allowed your tenancy to become periodic knowing that he could not continue to supply what was specified in the contract. He only had until April 9th to comply,I fail to see how even the most determined to defend his position can believe him entitled to rent after that date.

                          We are not lawyers and you should check any insurance policies you have for a legal advice helpline. However in my view the landlord's actions were illegal, he is not entitled to rent from you and should be fined if he accepts it. I would state that to the landlord, send him the article Ilinked to earlier and if he persists in trying to keep your deposit say that to the deposit scheme.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Thanks everyone for you opinions. You pointed me to a few places that I wouldn't have thought of. Hopefully, I'll get this sorted and hopefully he won't do this to any more people D:

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I wonder whether it would be better to refuse the dispute resolution option and get the deposit back in full. The landlord would then have to pursue the rent in the courts. From the sound of things, they may well not want to do that.

                              The risk is that you have to pay the court costs, if you lose, especially as you refused a no-judicial solution. On the other hand, they may see the landlord's behaviour as so dodgy that they don't believe he should be able to recover his costs.

                              Comment

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