Agent withholding deposit because of falling out with landlord

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    Agent withholding deposit because of falling out with landlord

    Hello,
    I am currently having some real problems reclaiming a deposit, and wondered whether anyone can give me a clear idea of my legal standing. (Sorry for the long post!)

    I moved into a house 6 months ago, with two existing tenants. Deposit was paid in the form of a cheque to the previous occupant of my room (who broke her tenancy) to inherit a share of a formally registered deposit, held with the DPS. I now realise this was not the proper route to take, but unfortunately all three of us currently in the house were put in this position by previous tenants, without realising that we should change the names on the account.
    So the landlord (with whom we all have a fairly good relationship) is selling up, and so the time has come for us to reclaim our deposit. We spoke to the DPS, who said that although we should be named on the account (none of us are) this is not a major issue, and we can still elect to have the money put into our accounts, the actual names listed do not matter. We also have the full cooperation of the ex-tenant who is named as the lead tenant. Fine.
    But, the major problem is that the landlord is not the person registered with the DPS to release the deposit to us. The account is actually controlled by an agent, whom none of the three current tenants have dealt with. She dealt with the initial tenants, about three years ago when the house was first let out. However, due to a falling out over money, she and the landlord are not speaking - the agent claims the landlord owes her money. And the landlord has since dealt with tenants privately, with contracts drawn up by a solicitor.
    So - having tried to claim the money back through the DPS - the agent has rejected our claim. She will not answer any of our calls, or those from our landlord. We tried to start the DPS process to have control of the account passed to the landlord, which involves sending copies of proof of ownership etc. However, this process involves the DPS contacting the agent to confirm that this handover of power is ok. She then wrote to the DPS (we do not know what she said to them, as they will not release the content of this letter to us or the landlord) but basically she refused to relinquish control of the deposit, and claimed that the landlord was lying.

    The landlord has tried to help us, but is rapidly losing interest as this is our money (£2100) that the agent is trying to withhold, not the landlords - it seems as though we are fighting an uphill battle, as the DPS takes the agents word as law, and it seems as though even if we try the proper procedures of making claims against her, she just lies, tells the DPS that we should not be claiming, and they refuse to chase it up or hand over control to the named owner of the house.

    We have now filed a claim under the single claims process - but are worried that the agent will just come up with another pack of lies, and will never actually be forced to release the money.

    Any suggestions/comments about where we stand legally, or perhaps advice as to what to do if the single claims process fails?

    Thanks!

    #2
    The responsibility for the deposit lies with the landlord. If your single-claims process does not work then you will have to consider claiming from him through www.moneyclaim.gov.uk.

    There are fees, but if you are on a low income, you may be able to reclaim them. HOWEVER, if you are entitled to have your court fees waived, moneyclaim will charge you and then expect you to claim it back. If you do it off-line and fill in a form N1 and an EX160 (both from http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/) and send them by mail, you won't have to pay any fees upfront. If you do have to pay, presuming you win your case, the landlord will be ordered to refund any fees you have paid.

    The small claims process is quite simple and doesn't require the services of a solicitor. However, you might find it useful to obtain a book on the process - a number are available from your local library or Amazon.

    If the landlord doesn't pay, you may have to take enforcement action which could include freezing his bank account or having a charge put on the rental property.

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      #3
      Originally posted by Chancey123 View Post
      We have now filed a claim under the single claims process - but are worried that the agent will just come up with another pack of lies, and will never actually be forced to release the money.

      Any suggestions/comments about where we stand legally, or perhaps advice as to what to do if the single claims process fails?
      I'm assuming there are no valid claims for deductions (and it's v. unlikely the agent will have any evidence to support even a false claim in the circumstances).

      The agent will either dispute your single claim or not. If not, you'll get your deposit back. If disputed, it'll be up to both parties to opt in/out of the deposit scheme adjudication service.

      If you and agent agree for it to be settled via adjudication, then (again, assuming there are no valid claims on the deposit), the DPS will award you the deposit.

      I'd try this first before bringing a county court claim against the LL, particularly with the irregularity of you not being named as the tenant with the DPS, and having no evidence of making a direct payment of the deposit to the landlord.

      Comment

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