Deposit not paid back. subletting or house sharing?

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    Deposit not paid back. subletting or house sharing?

    hi there all, all consistent and legal information that you can provide on my case will be most welcome.

    I started a joint assured shorthold tenancy agreement in Dec 2005 with a friend of mine on a 3 bedroom property. everything went fine and we had no problems whatsoever. The rent was paid via direct debit and all bills up to date.On june 2006 my friend's brother in law came on holiday and possible seasonal work. He stayed with us for a few weeks and after, enjoying his experience we accepted that he stayed for longer, as long as he took an equal share of the bills. My friend decided to move out by September 2006 and i decided to pay his half of the deposit and take the full tenancy on my name.His brother in law kept living with me until sep 2007. By Novermber 2006 another friend of mine was wellcome into the house stayed there for 6 months. In the meantime my girlfriend was living with me.After the guys left we stayed there alone for about 4 months alone until the end of the tenancy.
    These are facts that support the theory of subletting. Everything was done the old fashion way, everybody in family, bills shared but all coming out of my account. I knew the right way was to register them with the letting agents but i tried to avoid the registration fees.
    Throughout the all time the letting agents have made periodical inspections and said nothing. The landlord himself was coming sometimes to sort some stuff out and said nothing. Both parties have seen my guests/lodgers and talked with them but nothing. I believe this made me uncounciously more confortable about it. Until Feb 2007 when after an inspection by the letting agents i received a letter regarding a monthly rent increase of 100£, explained by the update of the property's market value. i accepted it and payments continued on time until the end of the tenancy.
    I moved out with my girlfriend at the beginning of January 2007. The property was left clean and showed due care. i called the letting agents every other day during the following 4 weeks and nobody could update me in the process of returning my deposit. Wrong information was given to me like rent in arrears or that they had lost my phone number, stuff of somebody that doesn't really care about my 865 pounds. After those 4 weeks i finally managed to speak with the head agent and he told me as if he had just come back from holiday that the final inspection happened 3 days after i left and went fine. the only query was "where are the carpets described on the inventory?" after 10 minutes of misunderstandings i explained him i was not a thief and that the landlord decided to change the carpets after the rent increase. But that was never comunicated to the agency. One of those recent carpets, in the bedroom, had about 5 cigarette marks and in the lounge there was a small hole and some pulls on the cord. He said those were cheap carpets and fixing wasn't a good option, replacement would be better. He was taking care of getting a quote and he would come back to me asap. A quote that he didn't comunicate to me was the grden one. "It needed a tidy up" and so he spent 88 pounds to do the garden. Which company did he use?
    Yep the landlord himself did it and produced and his company invoice for that amount.
    Two weeks went by and no sign from the agent. After making his secretary really pissed off she set up an appointment with me to which i didn't show up but i got to catch him in the office. By phone he said said it was quite a cheap quote he got ONLY 750£ for exactly 43 sq metres of cheap carpet (If the whole thing had to be replaced for a coupple of tiny but deep marks, but he didn't put other option than full replacemement). 15 minutes later i called him back saying i got a quote for 320 pounds from a local carpet fitter. The carpets were being bought at exactly the same place and would cost 260 pounds. My carpet fitter would charge me 80 pounds for fitting, his would charge 490!!! The agent agreed directly with me replacing the carpets, but indirectly said his availability was short. He would not be able to open the door for me to measure the rooms but he would be definitly open it for the carpets to be fitted. I called 3 days later giving him a date and he replied his availability was sill short. later on that day his secretary called me saying that i had 2 options. they couldn't cancel their carpet fitter appointment and so i had to pay 150 pounds for the cancellation fee, or let them do the job. Which company was it? Yep a company that has worked with that agency for years.they didn't really search for a market value quote did they?
    I told them i wasn't choosing any of those options.
    2 days later i sent a complaint letter. no reply. one week later: another letter. still no reply. Two months had gone since i left the property. i went to the local citizen advice. They proceeded in sending letters. After 20 days they got a reply. The agency said very simply, and ignoring all the argumentation exposed thoroughly in previous letters : first, that i had been subletting the 3 bedrooms since the beginning. Second, that they increased the rent based on a discussion with landlord as a way to make up for the excessive use of the property. Third, that the carpets had been changed by themselves at the cost of 750 pounds for me having called to late to stop the arrangements with their carpet fitter.
    How can somebody say this after me having made over 40 calls in 2 months?
    In conclusion, they gave me back 25 pounds.
    I took a decision of taking them to court. I am claiming the return of the money in excess that their carpet fitter charged me in comparison to the one i arranged. Also, and based on the fact that they have admitted in writing having increased the rent only for the purpose of me having guests/lodgers living with me, which means that they didn't try to evict or coerce me but instead they accepted it, lied to me with that market value story and let my extra 100 pounds bribe them. Based on this i wish to get 100 pounds back for every month that has gone by since the increase.

    And for all this i am sorry to take your time but mainly the question i wish to get answered are:
    1 is what i did really subletting, even not having taken material advantage of my guests/lodgers?
    2 is there any law that regulates the letting agents about how they use the deposit money? and also deadlines to return the money?

    all coments accepted!
    many thanks

    what does it say in your tenancy agreement about sub-letting ....

    you say ""Based on this i wish to get 100 pounds back for every month that has gone by since the increase" - but you presumably signed a new tenancy agreement for the increased rent - you cannot now say that you dont agree with it - if you did not like it - why did you sign a new agreement ?


      updating claims

      In my tenancy agreement is stated , The tenant agrees : "Not to assign , or sublet, part with possession of the property, or let any other person live at the property exceptthat during the fixed term of the tenancy the Tenant may assign or sublet with the landlord's express consent which will not be unresonably withheld. Such content, as a variation of the tenancy agreement, to be agreed in writting" ; And also "Not to receive paying guests(...)"
      With this i agree i have breached the tenancy agreement, to some degree.
      But at the time this was happening, whether we consider the landlord and letting agent "walking in and out" and so aknowledging without saying anything, as "express consent" is a different issue.
      Thei're response to this was a letter noticing a rent increased due to the "update of propertie's market value". I did sign the form based on this letter.
      Now, one year later, after 2 months i had left they told me the rent increase was proposed by the lanlord to make up for excessive wear and tear on the property. They did this in writing. I do have then 2 different satements regarding the rent increase.
      Based on this:
      1 It is difficult to me to accept that wear and tear can justify 100 pounds/month.
      2. Am i not paying for excessive wear and tear, justified or not, with my deposit already?
      3.I conclude that their response to my breach of the contract was not their obligation to discuss or process with eviction, but instead they accepted it, taking advantage of it to demand more money from me, and justifying it with a different reason at the time.

      Reformulating my claim regarding this matter, even if i accepted their use of my deposit (865-25 = 840 pounds), having them accepted my so called subletting, then the over 1000 pounds i paid in excess of rent should cover all those replacement costs.


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