Tenancy deposit return issue

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    Tenancy deposit return issue

    Sorry for yet another deposit return thread but I can't find a case that matches mine anywhere else.

    I ended my previous tenancy after 12 months in late August 2009 having given the required notice, paying all my bills and paid all rent on time. I have a copy of the check-out report that states property was "vacated in good and clean condition" and a letter confirming end of tenancy from the LA and stating return of deposit is the responsibility of the LL.

    However despite phone calls, emails and now two recorded delivery letters I have not had my deposit of almost £2,000 returned and I have not even been told of any reasons why (i.e. a notification of deductions from the LL). Every time I speak to him it is one excuse after another. The LA do not want to help either and keep referring me to the LL.

    Now here is where it gets interesting. I have a letter on headed paper from the LA provided when I moved in which is titled "Deposit Information Certificate" which states my deposit is in the mydeposit scheme. I have contacted them and have in writing that my deposit is NOT recorded with them (and I now have the same emails from the other 2 schemes too). So despite the "certificate" the LA provided to me, it is not protected.

    I am about to send a Letter Before Action to the LL and am fully prepared to take this to court.

    So here are my questions:

    1. Should I try and claim compensation for non protection of deposit as it is after the end of my tenancy? I have read contradicting information on different sites about this and the 3 schemes can't help me as I am not covered by them.

    2. Who should I name as defendants? I know the LL is responsible but should I include the LA on the action for providing incorrect information regarding protection of my deposit or is that irrelevant?

    3. If I do seek compensation, I will be seeking an amount in excess of £8,000. What is the best method to do this? The Shelter website says it should be an N1 form, but I think that is limited to £5k? If not should it be either an N208 or moneyclaim online. I like the idea of the online form as it is cheaper should I never get any money back.

    Many thanks for your help.

    #2
    Originally posted by FrustratedTenant View Post
    I am about to send a Letter Before Action to the LL and am fully prepared to take this to court.

    So here are my questions:

    1. Should I try and claim compensation for non protection of deposit as it is after the end of my tenancy? I have read contradicting information on different sites about this and the 3 schemes can't help me as I am not covered by them.
    Read this first.
    http://painsmith.wordpress.com/2009/...or-tds-claims/
    I don't usually recommend claiming the 3x deposit order but in your case I think it is worth considering due to: 1) the hard evidence that agent lied about protection, 2) the length of time the deposit has been withheld (demonstrating similar lack of good faith).

    However, it would be inadvisable to proceed without legal advice due to the scale of court fees, as well as the fact that you would be exposed to the defendant's legal costs. You need a solicitor who is experienced in these type of cases, not just your regular 'family' solicitor. You may be able to find a solicitor who will take on the case on a no-win-no-fee basis (try the ones whose blog I've linked to as I think they do this).

    2. Who should I name as defendants? I know the LL is responsible but should I include the LA on the action for providing incorrect information regarding protection of my deposit or is that irrelevant?
    Technically you can claim against either (or both). While LL is ultimately responsible, the agent is equally liable under deposit protection law. However, unless the agent is a reputable firm (which I doubt) and unlikely to 'vanish' (leaving you with a CCJ naming an company/trading name which no longer exists) it's safer to claim against the landlord because he has a tangible asset in the form of at least one rental property. The agent may be withholding the deposit because it's on the brink of bankruptcy.

    3. If I do seek compensation, I will be seeking an amount in excess of £8,000. What is the best method to do this? The Shelter website says it should be an N1 form, but I think that is limited to £5k? If not should it be either an N208 or moneyclaim online. I like the idea of the online form as it is cheaper should I never get any money back.
    Form N208, see above link. But aside from that, the limit for the small claims track is £5,000. In the other tracks, court fees are considerably higher. See

    http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/c...0_web_1009.pdf

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks westminster that is very helpful information.

      To be honest I am not interested in seeking compensation, I just want my £2k back as I've had to fund my new deposit on a credit card and the interest is mounting up. I had thought that claiming for 3x deposit might scare him into action but it becomes a different proposition though if I need seek a solicitor and could be exposed to his costs plus mine (and at £150+ an hour that could end up costing me more than my deposit if it goes to appeals etc). And then there is the possibility he might just not pay.

      The LA is actually a large high street chain in London with 10 branches and as far as I know are in no danger of going bust. Furthermore the LL bought 25 flats off-plan in the block including mine and so is not short of money either.

      I will though definitely send the LA a recorded delivery letter asking them to comment on why they have provided me incorrect information. They have ignored my last 3 phone calls asking for some information. Does anyone have any advice on what to say in this letter?

      I guess my best approach might be to just take the LL to court for recovery of the original deposit plus interest. That way I can keep it to small claims and keep it simple. Can anyone confirm that this should also be an N208 or should I use moneyclaim or an N1?

      Thanks and apologies for all the questions.
      Last edited by FrustratedTenant; 29-01-2010, 12:00 PM. Reason: reworded for clarity

      Comment


        #4
        N1 or MCOL is fine if you just want your deposit returning, N208 if you want the 3x. I believe MCOL is cheaper than N1

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by FrustratedTenant View Post
          The LA is actually a large high street chain in London with 10 branches and as far as I know are in no danger of going bust.
          If they are a member of a professional body such as http://www.arla.co.uk/ I would report them to that organization.

          I will though definitely send the LA a recorded delivery letter asking them to comment on why they have provided me incorrect information. They have ignored my last 3 phone calls asking for some information. Does anyone have any advice on what to say in this letter?
          Slightly pointless if you're not planning to claim for non-compliance.

          I guess my best approach might be to just take the LL to court for recovery of the original deposit plus interest. That way I can keep it to small claims and keep it simple. Can anyone confirm that this should also be an N208 or should I use moneyclaim or an N1?
          As snorkerz says, either Money Claim Online or an N1 if you're just claiming for return of deposit only. Send the LL a letter before action giving him 14 days to return the deposit, and advising him that you will issue a county court claim if he fails to pay you. You might also mention the unprofessional behaviour of the agent - it's quite possible the LL is unaware of it.

          Keep a copy letter, post first class with a free certificate of posting - signed for services can be returned to sender, or the recipient can refuse to sign for the letter, and a certificate of posting is sufficient evidence of delivery (and free!)

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks once again westminster.

            The reason I want to write to the LA is that the LL rents out 2 dozen or so properties through them and would be one of their biggest customers. If I threaten to involve them in any legal action they may help me by pressurising the LL to release the deposit and thus keep themselves out of it - particularly if all the other deposits on his flats are in the same position.

            Long shot I know but they are indeed a member of ARLA (and also OEA and NAEA) so it can't hurt to try. They would not want their reputation tarnished if I threaten them with being reported (thanks for that suggestion).

            I think I will need to seek some professional advice though if I do take forward any case for non-compliance. It looks to be out the depth of my meagre legal skills to take a multi-track case forward.

            Will update when I hear anything else.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by FrustratedTenant View Post
              Thanks once again westminster.

              The reason I want to write to the LA is that the LL rents out 2 dozen or so properties through them and would be one of their biggest customers. If I threaten to involve them in any legal action they may help me by pressurising the LL to release the deposit and thus keep themselves out of it - particularly if all the other deposits on his flats are in the same position.

              Long shot I know but they are indeed a member of ARLA (and also OEA and NAEA) so it can't hurt to try. They would not want their reputation tarnished if I threaten them with being reported (thanks for that suggestion).

              I think I will need to seek some professional advice though if I do take forward any case for non-compliance. It looks to be out the depth of my meagre legal skills to take a multi-track case forward.

              Will update when I hear anything else.
              Your literary skills suggest that you are a reasonably bright individual. There are lots of sources of help on the web (together with lots of crud) and this is one of the best.

              If you decided to pursue this case yourself, then I know you would get good support on here.

              Alternatively, I have read recently that 'painsmith' offer a no-win-no-fee type arrangement for these cases if they're straightforward. Depending on your financial situation, CAB or Community Legal Service might be able to help.

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks for the compliment Snorkerz

                I have been thinking about it a lot over the last week or so. This whole issue has cost me a huge amount - not just in interest on my credit card, but also in my time I have taken to correspond with all the parties and the hassle and unhappiness the whole thing has caused me. I also think I have acted fairly and honourably throughout the whole time of dealing with the LL and LA. There is a long history to this statement which I won't bore you with - all of which shows that I have acted in good faith throughout and my LL has in return treated me appallingly. Not sure how relevant that past history is to my case but it makes me consider taking a stronger stand against him.

                The reason why I am reluctant is thus. As stated above my landlord bought 25 flats in one go. Best guess is that he spent £7m and those are just the ones I know about. Logically he must be a multi millionaire and surely would not want a CCJ on his record. I therefore think it is possible he has come into financial difficulties and is or is about to go bankrupt. £2k when you owe tens if not of hundreds of thousands elsewhere is not going to feature high on your priority debt list. It would also explain him ignoring my letters. As a result, if I've forked out £1,500+ to get the case to court and I win but the LL never pays up, it will leave me with those costs and still be £2k down on the deposit. That is what I'm most worried about.

                I have sent the letter to the LA for their statement and threatened them with being reported to ARLA (no response after 5 days....) and tomorrow is the date that my LBA is due to be sent to LL as it is 14 days since my last letter. It looks like this one is going to court though based on the lack of responses I've had so far. I'll keep you all updated.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by FrustratedTenant View Post
                  Logically he must be a multi millionaire and surely would not want a CCJ on his record.
                  I don't expect that will bother him. How many multi millionaires do you think ever have problems getting credit when they want it?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I've finally had a response from the LA to explain what they did with my deposit. It was passed to the LL and he was told to pay it into mydeposits as per the certificate the LA had given me. He was then supposed to send me the details by post which he didn't do. As it was a T. find only the LA did all they been contracted to do by the LL. They have also given me lots of supporting information such as a rent certificate and a letter stating they are no longer dealing with him due to him breaching ASTs with other Ts.

                    It seems quite clear now that my case is solely against the LL so he is the one I am going to pursue. I have also just done a land registry check on the flat I rented to check whose name was on the leasehold. It is registered to a Ltd company which matches that on my AST so looks OK. However when I then checked with Companies house the address for the company has changed in December from the address on my AST to a commercial office in London.

                    It is therefore entirely possible he has not got my letters (including the LBA sent last week). Can someone please advise whether I should stick to the address I have when filing suit or should I resend the letters to the new address?

                    Thanks once again everyone.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      While your LBA may be valid (last known address) before entering into a potentially tricky minefield, I would advise you dot the 'i's and cross the 't's by resending the LBA to the correct address.

                      The landlord had no obligation to notify you of his change of address, and as a limited company the address is public information (as you have found) so a judge might view not using the current address in a negative light.

                      Of course, in the real world, if the mail wasn't delivered and didn't have your return address on, it would have eventually been returned to you (address on letter) or forwarded to the company (Co. House data) by the Royal Mails dead-letter office. So he's probably had it - it's just proving it.

                      With regard to CCJs - with so many properties, and being in business, I suspect he or his company already have a few.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Many thanks again Snorkerz. Someone signed for the letters at his old address and the envelope had my address on the back with "if not delivered please return to..." I assume he got them but is ignoring me. As you said it is best to cover all bases so the judge sees I have tried everything.

                        I'll resend the LBA tomorrow to the new address and include copies of all previous letters too so he can't claim he hasn't seen them. I'll therefore need to give him a further notice period to respond from the new address so it gives me a bit more time to put together a non-compliance case.

                        Assuming he does not respond from the new address, do I use that address or stick to the one on the AST when filing the court papers?
                        Last edited by FrustratedTenant; 14-02-2010, 17:23 PM. Reason: missing word

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by FrustratedTenant View Post
                          Assuming he does not respond from the new address, do I use that address or stick to the one on the AST when filing the court papers?
                          The claim must be served at the company's current (principal/registered) office, not the old address. For proof of posting for the letter before action, don't use a signed for service, get a free certificate of posting from the PO.

                          As for CCJs, if they are paid within a certain period (I think it's 30 days) and the judgment debtor proves this to a county court and obtains a Certificate of Satisfaction, then the CCJ will not be recorded in the register, and therefore will not affect the judgment debtor's credit rating.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            A successful outcome for me!

                            Hello all, not posted in a while so just wanted to update you on my progress.

                            After much thought on the matter and informal advice from the legal people at work I decided not to pursue for 3x deposit for non-compliance. This was mainly because such cases seem to be getting held up pending higher court decisions, particularly higher value ones like mine, and I didn't want to get drawn into a potentially protacted legal battle. So instead I just issued a small claims request for return of my deposit using MCOL. It was surprisingly easy and my papers were issued the next day to LL (using the "old" address that I had for him - I did a land registry check on the property and he did still live there, he had just changed his Ltd Co to a proxy forwarding address back to him. Go figure).

                            A few days later LL phoned me up out the blue (after ignoring me for almost 6 months!) and didn't give any explanations but stated he would post a cheque that day. A week later nothing had arrived so I sent him a text stating that I would not wait any longer than the 14 days before requesting judgement in my favour. He phoned back trying to claim he had sent it and that I was trying rip him off. I sent him off to his bank to check whether it had been cashed and told him he had 2 days to respond.

                            Anyway, he must have realised I wasn't going to back down as yesterday a check arrived via recorded delivery from LL for the full amount of my depost (£1938) which has now been cashed into my account and I've checked online that it has cleared. He did not pay the court fee or interest (about £150 in total) but I've decided to write that off as I've got back what I really wanted. I just need to instruct the court now that I have settled.

                            So it is all over. Many thanks to everyone on here who helped me over the last month or so - virtual beers are on me!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Well done- see, persistence does pay dividends!
                              JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                              1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                              2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                              3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                              4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

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