landlord gone AWOL - option

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    landlord gone AWOL - option

    Hi all,
    I'm currently facing some difficulty reclaiming my deposit from my landlord, and am reviewing my options. The current situation is as follows:
    a) I moved into my last tenancy in September '09. Landlord had flat repossessed from him about 2 weeks ago, at which point I had to move out (obviously!)
    b) As would be suggested by the flat being repossessed, my landlord's finances are, as far as I can tell, in a mess, and he has a history of avoiding responding to previous tenants' requests for returns of deposits. As many of his tenants have been from outside the UK, they have not been aware of the requirement that their deposits be protected.
    c) At my insistence (and temporarily holding out on rent payments), my landlord only protected my deposit in January under mydeposits.co.uk, which is an insurance scheme, meaning he still holds the money. (The outstanding rent was quickly paid once this was done.)
    d) Not at all to my surprise, my landlord is not responding to my queries about when the deposit will be returned, which he will be required to do by Tuesday, based on the requirement to respond to tenants' requests for returned deposits within 10 days.
    My dilemma is therefore as follows - if my landlord does not respond to my requests for the deposit and I enter into a formal dispute with him, it may take up to 12 weeks before mydeposits.co.uk will step in and pay out the deposit theirselves, which is a rather long time.
    Given my deposit was protected only 4 months after I moved into the flat, I'm wondering if at this stage I'd be able to threaten my landlord with taking him to court to claim the 3x compensation if he does not pay me my deposit within the next week. My understanding is that even in the event that the deposit is protected very late, compensation may still be claimed in some cases, however in this case it has been over 5 months since the deposit was protected, so I'm not sure if claiming compensation would still be possible.
    Please understand I am not seeking to fleece my landlord, I simply want my deposit back!
    Although my deposit was protected late, I have nowhere in writing referred to taking him to court for compensation, and so I can't see any way in which my landlord could claim that I had agreed *not* to do this.
    Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

    #2
    Originally posted by chic278 View Post
    My dilemma is therefore as follows - if my landlord does not respond to my requests for the deposit and I enter into a formal dispute with him, it may take up to 12 weeks before mydeposits.co.uk will step in and pay out the deposit theirselves, which is a rather long time.
    You need to check whether the deposit is indeed protected, as MyDeposits do not allow late protection and LL may have lied about the dates of the tenancy when he registered the deposit. Such a discrepancy would come to light if you raised a dispute with the scheme and they saw the tenancy agreement as part of the evidence submitted.

    Given my deposit was protected only 4 months after I moved into the flat, I'm wondering if at this stage I'd be able to threaten my landlord with taking him to court to claim the 3x compensation if he does not pay me my deposit within the next week.
    There is nothing to stop you writing a letter before action to the landlord, whether or not you intend to issue proceedings. However, a case (Tiensia v Universal Estates) was heard in the appeal court last month concerning late protection with MyDeposits, and the ruling is not yet known. It would be advisable to await the ruling before even considering whether to issue a non-compliance claim. Also, be aware that non-compliance claims are not dealt with the small claims track, so you are exposed to the other party's legal costs, and court fees will be over £1,000 in the multi track - therefore it's advisable to seek legal advice first.

    And to state the obvious, if your landlord is in serious financial trouble, even if you brought a non-compliance claim and won, you'd have spent over £1,000 in court fees getting there and you would probably find it difficult to enforce the CCJ.

    A less risky option would be to claim just for the deposit amount, as this would be allocated to the small claims track.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks very much for the advice. I'm confused, however, on the issue of mydeposits.co.uk not taking late protection - on my certificate, it is stated that my deposit was only protected from January, even though the tenancy was started (and the deposit collected) in September last year - why would they accept the account knowing that the tenancy began earlier? And, if they already knew that the deposit was being protected 4 months after the tenancy began, can they still refuse to give out the insurance claim?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by chic278 View Post
        I'm confused, however, on the issue of mydeposits.co.uk not taking late protection - on my certificate, it is stated that my deposit was only protected from January, even though the tenancy was started (and the deposit collected) in September last year - why would they accept the account knowing that the tenancy began earlier?
        How would they know that the tenancy began earlier? Does it say so on the certificate?

        Comment


          #5
          Yes it does - sorry, should have been clearer above. There are separate fields for when the deposit was collected and when it was protected from, which specify 'sept 09' and 'jan 10' respectively.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by chic278 View Post
            Yes it does - sorry, should have been clearer above. There are separate fields for when the deposit was collected and when it was protected from, which specify 'sept 09' and 'jan 10' respectively.
            MyDeposits' T&C state:

            C1.1 The following will apply when a Member requests to Protect a Deposit with us.
            C1.1.1 The full Deposit stated in the AST must be Protected by the Member within 14 Days of receipt from the Tenant.
            C1.1.2 We may allow a Member to Protect a Deposit after 14 Days have elapsed from receipt if the Member provides us with a satisfactory explanation. We may refuse to Protect a Deposit or charge a late Protection penalty fee to Protect a Deposit later than 14 Days from receipt.
            NB1: We may cancel Membership if more than 1 request arises under C1.1.2.
            NB2: The DPC [deposit protection certificate] states the date that the Member received the Deposit and the date that the Protection commenced. A Tenant may issue Court proceedings against a Member for late Protection.We will not be responsible for any loss the Member suffers as a result of such Court proceedings
            C1.1.3 We will not Protect a Deposit after 14 Days have elapsed from receipt by the Member in the following circumstances:
            C1.1.3.1 The Member is already aware that there will be or is likely to be a Deposit Dispute with the Tenant(s);
            C1.1.3.2 The Tenant(s) has initiated Court proceedings for non-Protection of the Deposit;
            C1.1.3.3 The Member is only Protecting to obtain a section 21 Order (under the Housing Act) against the Tenant;
            C1.1.3.4 The Tenant has already left the Residential Property.
            NB:If we subsequently discover that a Member has Protected a Deposit and one of the circumstances in C1.1.3 has occurred then we will invalidate the Protection immediately and we may also cancel the Membership.
            So there are two possibilities, either: 1. it has slipped through the net and gone unnoticed by clerical staff, or 2. the landlord provided MyDeposits with a 'satisfactory explanation' as to why he protected it late (and my guess is that saying he did it because his T put pressure on him wouldn't count as 'satisfactory').

            You still need to check whether the protection is valid. Remember, the scheme is essentially an insurance company and if you try to get them to pay out (in the event the LL doesn't lodge the disputed sum with them when you raise a dispute) they will try to weasel out of liability if they can find a way.

            Comment


              #7
              just noticing that in the t&c given above, the last line states that they will invalidate the protection if they *subsequently* discover that one of the listed events had occurred - given that my certificate makes clear that they were informed of the situation when the protection was established, will they still have the option to invalidate the protection?

              Comment

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