Deposit Return after 2 years

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    Deposit Return after 2 years

    Hi,



    This is quite a long story, but hopefully somone will be able to assist me here. Back in June 2008 I moved into a property, paid approx £1100 deposit and paid £650 rent by DD every month. I was aware the landlord had had problems with the previous tenant not paying bills, but didnt think it would have any bearing on me and my tenancy. In August 2008 we started getting lettings from a solicitors acting on behalf of the mortgage company saying we had to pay rent directly to them as the landlord hadnt been paying the mortgage. Then for a month he did, so action stopped, then late September the solictors took it over again and asked us to pay them directly, but that they'd be looking to put the house on the market so we had to move out before the end of our 6 month tenancy. With the solictors agreement we moved out at 5 months, November 2008, into the property I'm in now.



    The landlord was often not in the country (working abroad), so all contact was by email. When we attempted to get out deposit back, we found the TDS documentation we'd been provided early on in the tenancy was incorrect. Originally the letting agents protected the deposit under their name with the scheme they use. Between us providing the deposit and us recieving the document, the landlord decided he was going to manage the property himself and kept the deposit. We weren't provided with a new document, but didnt know anything about the change at this point so didnt know to ask.



    When we vacated, we called and emailed the landlord a number of times asking for our deposit back, we'd left the property in immaculate condition, wear & tear minimal given we'd only been there 5 months. All calls were not returned and no response to emails where provided. We spent weeks trying to find out who had our deposit, and when we did, we were told we were outside the time limit for their normal channels and we weren't given much assistance with what we could do to get out deposit returned.



    Last year I ended up being really quite ill, and between hospital, full time work & full time study, I just could not face the stress of trying to chase this guy for my money. This year I've just tried my best to forget it, still working, still studying, and now with a baby on the way I didn't need the extra stress more than I needed the money.



    Now we're moving out, and purely out of curiosity I looked at the agents website to find out how much my house is up for, and saw my last house up again, for less than what I was renting it for. I rang the agents this morning as if it was a different landlord I would be interested in moving back. It isn't. Its the same guy who I consider to have stolen my deposit, and kept at least 3 months of my rent payments without passing it on to the lenders.



    Quite frankly, I'm furious. I had pretty much given up on it, but knowing he has still got that house and is still able to collect deposits and rent money really upsets me. I want to know what I can do to get this money back. I was considering emailing him something along the lines of "Hope you are well. I see you are in a better financial posistion now than you were two years ago since you've managed to retain ownership of the property that was to be repossessed in November 2008? With this in mind, I trust you are now able to return the £1100 deposit paid to you in June 2008, along with the interest you have earnt? Please respond within 14 days or I will have no option but to start small claims court proceedings." Then send a recorded letter to the address I have for him, then take it to SCC.



    Is there another (better?) way to do this, or do I have to give it up as a lost cause?



    Thanks in advance
    BB

    #2
    I certainly wouldn't give it up as a lost cause, and I think what you are suggesting to do is a sensible way to proceed.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by BamboBaggins View Post
      I want to know what I can do to get this money back. I was considering emailing him something along the lines of "Hope you are well. I see you are in a better financial posistion now than you were two years ago since you've managed to retain ownership of the property that was to be repossessed in November 2008? With this in mind, I trust you are now able to return the £1100 deposit paid to you in June 2008, along with the interest you have earnt? Please respond within 14 days or I will have no option but to start small claims court proceedings." Then send a recorded letter to the address I have for him, then take it to SCC.
      A county court claim is the only way to get your money back if LL refuses to pay. I recommend you buy a book on the Small Claims procedure if it's your first claim; there are a few on Amazon (make sure you buy an up to date edition).

      Keep the tone of the letter before action 100% professional and businesslike - there's a slightly sarcastic tone to the draft above.

      Comment


        #4
        An update on this, and a request for further advise please?

        Following advice received about the above situation, I contacted mydeposits, and asked if I could restart the arbitration process through them, which unfortunately said no to. Their advice was as above, to follow it up through the courts.

        Earlier today we emailed the landlord, including only the facts ie address in question, dates, total deposit value, and a request for cleared funds within 14 days to our bank account. We advised that if funds not received within 14 days we'd be seeking to start proceedings through the courts process and would be looking to include interest from the date it should have been returned. The tone of our email was professional, polite and to the point. I'll copy it in if its needed.

        The LL replied within an hour, with the following response...

        "Nice to know that you are still alive. You left without giving me prior notice, the place in a mess and I had to replace the carpets because of your dogs and you gave me no forwarding address. How dare you now come and say you need your deposit."

        That's verbatim, not edited for effect. The irony of his first sentence it that it was he who disappeared and refused to answer any of our emails, emails which were sent to the same address he replied from today.

        Once I'd calmed down a little, we drafted and sent the below (identifiable details removed). Along with the email, we sent two attachment - these being the two original emails sent in November 2008, one advising we were due to move, could he confirm he was aware of the mortgage company actions, and how would he like to handle return of deposit, second to say we'd moved, and could he now release deposit.


        "Dear Mr Landlord,

        Thank you for your prompt reply, however we feel it important to note that we do not agree with the content of your email, which we refute in detail in below.



        1. "You left without giving me prior notice"



        Firstly it was not our choice to leave the property, we left the property at the request of solicitors acting on behalf of your mortgage company. However please find attached evidence of our advising you of our intention to leave the property. At this time, due to your dispute with [mortgage lenders], you were legally no longer our landlord and as such we were under no obligation to advise you of our leaving date but did so out of courtesy.



        2. "the place in a mess and I had to replace the carpets because of your dogs"



        The property was left clean and tidy and free of all rubbish, with only the dining set and fridge freezer you provided still in the property. Unfortunately no check out inspection was completed, as although the check in report was actioned by [letting agents], on the instruction of the solicitors acting on behalf [mortgage company], the keys were handed to [estate agents]. However, as at this time we had no reason to believe there would be any issues with regards to the deposit, we spent many hours cleaning the property, including using a carpet cleaner on all carpets.



        Further to this, the photographs recently displayed on the [new letting agents] website clearly show the property to have the same carpet in September 2010 as was in the property when we vacated in November 2008.



        Any deductions to the deposit held have to be agreed by both parties and disputes resolved through official channels. Despite your claim to have had no address for us you did have several lines of communication open. You were aware of both of our email addresses, which you had responded to previously. You had our mobile phone numbers, which previous correspondence had been carried out though. You could have spoken to [original lettings agents] who during this time emailed, and texted you on our behalf to no reply. You could have contacted the solicitors dealing with the case on behalf of [mortgage company].



        You chose to make deductions without agreement which to us were highly unnecessary. Before making any deductions to a deposit, the landlord must provide evidence that repairs are required, which would require both a check in and check out report. Following evidence of damage beyond normal 'wear and tear', the landlord then has to provide to the tenant with three separate quotations for the work to be carried out. Despite having multiple channels of communication open to you in order to resolve this, you chose to retain the deposit without due cause, and with no notification.



        3. "you gave me no forwarding address"



        We believe we have covered the point regarding lack of forwarding address, but for clarity, please allow me to reiterate. Firstly, you could have chosen to engage myself or [ms tenant] via our email addresses, both of which you have had and had used for successful communications throughout the early months of our tenancy. Secondly, during our email correspondence, [ms tenant] had provided you with both of our mobile numbers, which you acknowledged at the time, and both of which are still numbers we use to this day. Thirdly, [original letting agents] - who let the property initially - were provided with our forwarding address. Finally, [mortgage companies solictors] on behalf of [mortgage company] had our forwarding address, and as we had provided you with their details, this is yet another correspondence option open to you which you chose not to take.



        We trust that this email has refreshed your memory of the events surrounding our rental of the property, and you now understand you are incorrect in withholding our deposit in this manner. We look forward to receiving the £1150 to the bank account quoted previously within the next 14 days.



        Kind Regards,

        Mr & Ms Tenant"

        As yet, we haven't received a response - I presume after his ill considered initial email and our reply clearly disputing every aspect of his initial email, he's taking some time out to consider how to respond? Presuming his response is along similar lines to the first, what would be our next step? I'm starting to wonder if we need professional advise, though I'm 5 months pregnant and can't afford legal expenses so I'd like to do it myself, or at least as much as possible anyway.

        I'd really appreciate any advise you could offer.

        Many thanks,
        Stacie

        nb, we had 1 dog - which was agreed and written into the tenancy agreement.

        Comment


          #5
          We have had a response, and its much the same as the first...

          "You can do whatever you want the truth remains. I have had several tenants since you left and I changed the carpet, painted the house and cleaned your mess and you did not give me notice as per contract. If someone chased you out then you should sue those\people not me. I did not"

          I hope from my earlier messages you can understand the position we're in, and can see that given the rather complicated situation at the time - the actions we took (ie leaving the property at the request of the deed holders) were correct and my complaint against this man still stand?

          Thanks,
          Stacie

          Comment


            #6
            You've been entirely reasonable - wait for your original 14 days warning to expire and initiate the claim.

            Remember that this is your money and the LL has to prove that he can keep it you don't have to prove you are entitled to it back. Having said that the more info you provide the court to backup your version of events the better. e.g. letters from the mortgage co., letters from agent, any photos taken when moving out etc.

            On the basis of what you have said you would seem to have a fairly solid claim for return of the deposit plus three times the deposit for non protection but this would not be through the small claims track so does carry some risk. The threat of it may however be a good lever to get the deposit amount back.

            Comment


              #7
              Hi thanks for your reply.

              Our next problem is that the Landlord has sold his own house, which he listed as his address on both our tenancy agreement and in the land registry details on the rental property.

              We believe he is currently residing in america but he must have a UK based address for management of his rental property. Do we just ask him for the address?

              If he fails to give us a UK address where do we serve papers to? His rental property, the current letting agents, his workplace in America, or his last known address as per our tenancy agreement? That's quite a specific question, would we be better seeking professional legal advice on that point?

              Adam

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Mr Baggins View Post
                If he fails to give us a UK address where do we serve papers to? His rental property, the current letting agents, his workplace in America, or his last known address as per our tenancy agreement? That's quite a specific question, would we be better seeking professional legal advice on that point?
                You don't need a solicitor to pursue a small claim for the return of the deposit - get a book, as I suggested above. (You do need a solicitor to pursue a claim for the 3x deposit sanction for failing to protect the deposit - I'm not sure whether or not the deposit was/wasn't protected).

                As for the address for service, I just checked the Civil Procedure Rules - Part 6 - which is about service of documents. And I spotted one I hadn't noticed before. Rule 6.8(b)

                6.8 Subject to rules 6.5(1) and 6.7 –

                (a) the defendant may be served with the claim form at an address within the jurisdiction which the defendant has given for the purpose of being served with the proceedings; or

                (b) in any claim by a tenant against a landlord, the claim form may be served at an address given by the landlord under section 48 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987.
                (i.e. the address for serving notices given in your tenancy agreement)

                http://www.justice.gov.uk/civil/proc...6.htm#IDAINOVB

                While I am not sure whether this can extend to after the tenancy is over, I do know you can't serve to an address in America or to the letting agents, so it's your best option unless the LL gives you an alternative England/Wales address for service.

                However, bear in mind that the LL may not receive the claim till past the deadline for response, and if he does, can't defend it unless he returns from America or hires a lawyer to represent him - so you could get a default judgment; a judgment that firstly may later be thrown out if the LL returns and proves why he didn't respond in the first place, and secondly a judgment which, with the LL abroad, would have limited enforcement options - do you have details of the LL's UK bank account?

                Comment

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