Subletting Deposit Issues

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    Subletting Deposit Issues

    Good evening. I have an issue with reclaiming my deposit that I really hope you can help me out with.

    I moved out of my rented accommodation 7 weeks ago, and my previous "landlord" has so far failed to give me any of my deposit back (£500), citing a carpet stain (that I dispute) and a couple of marks on the wall from a poster that I had put up. He is claiming that he is waiting for quotes and won't release anything until he has them.

    The facts are as follows -

    1. When I initially started to rent the room, I was not told that I would in fact be sub-letting the room from the tenant. He only told me this once I'd paid my deposit. I have had no dealings whatsoever with the actual landlord/owner : all my contract, deposit and rental contact has been with the tenant.

    2. Instead of drawing up a proper contract, he typed a letter that we both signed indicating how long I would lease the room for, and that he would pay back my deposit, less any damages, within 14 days of me moving out. He also stated that he would be prepared to set up a formal Short-term Assured Tenancy agreement if I wanted. I didn't bother as I'd never looked into the Housing Act at that point, and I assumed that it would be Short-term Assured Tenancy agreement anyway as a matter of course.......

    3. The main tenant used to live in the house with his family before he decided to sub-let the property, but when his wife got a new job elsewhere, the family moved out and he decided to sub-let the whole property to myself and 2 other sub-tenants. HOWEVER, as the main tenant's job was still in the area, he said he "may stay over from time to time during the week". He did this once or twice a week for the first few months, but then stopped staying over altogether. I feel this action by the tenant makes it a slightly 'grey area' as to whether I was actually on an Assured Tenancy agreement or whether I was actually an Excluded Occupier. I'd welcome opinions on that point please.

    4. The tenant definitely did not protect my deposit, and has admitted as much via an email "because I was only sub-letting". My understanding is that as a sub-tenant on an Assured Tenancy agreement, my deposit would be afforded the same rights as it would for a tenant - i.e. the legal onus would be on the main tenant to protect it and notify me withing in 14 days of taking the deposit, etc. However, I guess whether he needed to protect it or not would depend on whether I was on an Assured Tenancy agreement or whether I'd be classed as an excluded occupier. Again, and legal expert advice would be SERIOUSLY appreciated here.

    5. Lastly I recently reminded the tenant of his signed agreement to give me my deposit back within 14 days, and he replied to say that the landlord/owner is actually claiming that the alleged "cost of repairs" to my room is actually £650 and that he (the tenant) is "doing all he can" to get the landlord to reduce the cost to within my £500 deposit. I feel this figure is entirely unjustified for what amounts to some blue-tack marks from one poster on one wall, and an alleged stain on the carpet.

    So my questions -

    1. Given the above information, do you think I could successfully argue that I was more than just an excluded occupier?

    2. If I am considered to be on an Shot term Assured Tenancy agreement, does the fact that he did not protect my deposit mean that I can claim it all back? (I'm not looking to make money out of this by claiming 3 times the deposit or anything, I just want my original deposit back).

    3. What I can do if he persists in claiming an extortionate amount for "repairs"?

    I realise I have been foolish by not insisting on a formal Short Term Assured Tenancy agreement to be drawn up at the start of the rental period, but you live and learn. Any expert legal advice would be immensely welcome as I cannot afford to pay a solicitor to look into this for me.

    Thanks in advance.

    #2
    You are not an Excluded Occupier and you Do have an AST.

    The deposit should have been protected, and this letter may help:

    ======================================

    letter before action

    Dear Mr XXXXXXXX

    RE: 123 High Street, Anytown, AT1 2AA

    On the XXX of XXX 20XX I/We paid you a tenancy deposit of £XXX in respect of the above property.

    The Housing Act 2004 introduced the concept of "Tenancy Deposit Protection" and obliges private landlords to protect/register all tenancy deposits with one of 3 approved schemes.

    I/We have verified with all three schemes that the deposit you hold was NOT protected by any scheme. This is unlawful.

    You must refund the outstanding balance of my/our deposit IN FULL within 14 days. If you fail to do so, I/we shall sue you for the balance due PLUS the statutory penalty for non-protection of deposits, which is three times the value of the deposit.

    Yours sincerely

    Comment


      #3
      Many thanks for the swift reply and the pro-forma letter - most appreciated.

      I'm still just a bit concerned by the fact that the tenant used to stop over once or twice a week. I found a legal website that stated that to be classed as a live-in-landlord it had to be his main home, and that occasional useage for a short period of time does NOT constitute being a live-in-landlord, but I'm still cautious about it. He retained his own key to the front door of the house, so doesn't that make him a live-in landlord to a certain degree? If so that would throw my AST status up in the air wouldn't it?

      Comment


        #4
        I think this is still clearly an AST - he was your house-guest, not a resident landlord. If you have his 'real' address at the time, that would reinforce such a claim.

        Even if the AST argument goes against you - and it shouldn't - you can still sue for your deposit via www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. The 'landlord' will have to prove the damages that his landlord is claiming. Was an inventory taken when you moved in?

        Comment


          #5
          No there was no inventory provided or taken when I moved in.

          The house certainly was not immaculate when I moved in as the tenant and his family, including their three small children, had been living there before anyway.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by JohnRed View Post
            No there was no inventory provided or taken when I moved in.

            The house certainly was not immaculate when I moved in as the tenant and his family, including their three small children, had been living there before anyway.
            Then the 'landlord' would find it very difficult to prove in court that the damages were caused by you. Deny everything.

            Comment


              #7
              Many thanks for your time and advice Snorkerz. I'll post how it turns out.

              Comment

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