3 Month Short Let - Landlord refuses to return deposit months later, blaming dog

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    3 Month Short Let - Landlord refuses to return deposit months later, blaming dog

    My cousin rented a residential flat for 3 months (she is from Europe but was studying in London for a year) and paid £1000 deposit. Paid full rent on time and left 2 weeks before the short let ended.

    There were apparently a couple of complaints about a friend's dog (who she watches a few times a week), and the agent did send one warning email about dogs. No neighbour actually complained in person and nothing more was heard about it.

    Agent was ok with returning with deposit after leaving, but after 4 months (Covid lockdown derailed/delayed everything) of delays the landlord's agent suddenly says the £1k deposit will not be returned because of the small dog. He says the landlord is refusing because a neighbouring tenant left due of the small dog's barking. She was not aware of any neighbour complaining (apart from that email) or leaving and it is hard to say if this is lie as it was over 4 months ago.

    SInce this is a 3 month let, does it mean the deposit did not have to be placed in a deposit scheme? Any advise on how to get that £1k deposit back?

    Thank you x

    #2
    If the let was a residential let and what was rented was a flat where your cousin was the only occupant, the deposit would normally have to be protected in a scheme.
    If the arrangement was more along the lines of a holiday ler, there's no need for protection.

    In either case, the landlord can only retain the deposit for reasons agreed in the contract for the let, or to compensate them for a loss beyond the normal results of the tenant being in the flat for three months.

    The two questions for the agent are, therefore, why was the deposit not protected and what loss is the landlord claiming compensation for?

    If the contract for the property contains a clause saying that no dogs or no pets are allowed, the landlord may have some claim on some money..
    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
      The landlord can only have a claim on the deposit if he has suffered some loss. If he has suffered no loss there is no justification for retaining the deposit and he is guilty of theft as the deposit is the tenant's money.

      Comment


        #4
        I also think he would have a hard time persuading any deposit scheme that his other tenant leaving was an attributable loss or even one covered by the purposes defined in the tenancy agreement.

        If your Cousin was not on holiday then she probably had a tenancy which required the deposit to be protected. If I were her I would send the landlord a letter before action stating that she believes he has breached deposit protection legislation and that she is entitled to have the deposit returned plus a penalty of up to 3x the deposit and that she is investigating appointing a no-win no-fee solicitor to prosecute her case. That may force his hand.

        Comment


          #5
          So a 3 month short let can require the deposit to be protected? I thought an AST required 6 months, I guess I'm wrong. She paid £2000 a month (overpriced for 2 bed but she was desperate) and £1000 in deposit. The agent (Rrproperties) likes to advertise the lets as "student lets". She was a student but had just finished her course by the time she rented this flat. The agent said they would return her deposit in January before she left London and then 5 months later when she is finally back in London they now say landlord won't return deposit due to her little dog. They did warn her about her friend's dog last October (after 1 month of tenancy) but then nothing happened. I think the contract does say no pets without permission. But the (tiny) dog caused no damage.

          Looking at the agent's reviews, it looks like they have a history of holding back deposits (holding bak references, requesting good reviews in return etc).

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Farrella View Post
            So a 3 month short let can require the deposit to be protected? I thought an AST required 6 months, I guess I'm wrong.
            There's no minimum length to an AST.

            If the tenancy agreement says no pets without permission, absent any permission, any additional wear and tear due to the pet would be a loss and the landlord could seek compensation - for example a deep clean to remove any pet hairs/urine etc.
            But that's unlikely to lead to a £1000 deduction, and the deposit should have been protected if the arrangement was an AST.

            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


              #7
              So how does one prove that this contract should have been an AST? She had just finished school and decided to stay a few months longer. I don't know if that is classed as a "holiday" but 3 months seems very long for a holiday....but she is from Europe, though she wants to move to London long-term after studying here.

              I'm pretty sure this agent doesn't use a deposit scheme for any short lets, based on the way they talk about it. There was no damage, they initially said she'll gt £1k deposit back but now they are claiming a tenant left because of dog barking (leading to loss of income for landlord apparently) but they never provided evidence or mentioned this until 5 months after the tenancy ended!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Farrella View Post
                So how does one prove that this contract should have been an AST?
                Was it their main residence? Proof of AST or just a Short-Let agreement? Bank statements, DVLA, council tax, utilities etc?

                Did they keep a dog against the agreement? Did it p*ss off the neighbours by yapping all day and night?

                Deposit protection is only heavily weighted in the tenants favour if it is an AST.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Her school had finished so she was on a tourist visa. It's a short let agreement for 3 months, she said they never gave her a copy (rookie mistake) and after she asked for it last week, they are now telling her she had breached her tenancy by having a dog in the flat and refused to forward her a copy of the tenancy agreement. The dog didn't damage the flat, they're saying the dog made another tenant leave but my cousin thinks it's a made up excuse as she never heard any neighbour complain, if a neighbour is bothered enough to leave then you'd think she would know...

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I doubt it was an AST or that either party ever thought it was one.

                    I think she breached whatever agreement she had, annoyed the neighbours for 3 months and didn't give a fug.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Most people like her have no idea what the difference is between an AST and a holiday let!

                      My guess is the landlord didn't actually suffer any loss apart from maybe a complaint or two and any neighbour who left would have left mainly because of Covid lockdown and not because of this tiny dog, though the dog is a great excuse... but technically she did breach contract by having her friend and that little dog around. It's odd that the agent said she would get her deposit back a few months ago (she left without taking back cash deposit), then months later the agent is keeping the full £1k deposit and refusing to hand over original contract. Anyway I thought perhaps keeping the full £1k deposit is debatable when there is no evidence that the landlord suffered any loss.. The real loss is so many empty flats in the building due to covid lockdown, so agent/landlord more desperate to keep any money they can.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Whether it was an AST or not only matters because of the issue of whether it was protected or not.
                        The landlord can't simply keep a deposit unless there's some basis for them keeping it.

                        Having a dog when they shouldn't have sounds like a breach of the terms of their staying there.
                        Either the agreement allows the landlord to keep the deposit in that case (very unlikely) or they need to return it.

                        Compelling the landlord to return it without an address (and possibly attending court) in the UK is practically difficult.

                        Originally posted by boletus View Post
                        I think she breached whatever agreement she had, annoyed the neighbours for 3 months and didn't give a fug.
                        And I agree 100% with this.

                        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

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