Deposit nightmare: please help

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  • Deposit nightmare: please help

    Hi all,

    You were so kind and welcoming when I posted here before that you were the first on my list for advice on deposit recovery.

    As I said on my previous visit, I am a bloody lovely tenant. Never paid rent a minute late in my 12 years of renting, and houseproud, so LLs tend to get their place back nicer than I got it.

    I have two queries:

    1. I vacated a property on 1 November 2010. The LL is very difficult to communicate and deal with (she's the one that charges £400 for a tenancy renewal, and didn't fix a leaking roof despite 5 visits and several assertions to the contrary for 18 months. In fact, she still hasn't. Anyway, getting sidetracked...) She posted me a cheque for my full deposit a week later. That day I went out to pay the cheque in, and had my bag nicked. Phone, contracts, letters, cheque - the lot. I went to the police, they weren't sure if they had it, so I emailed LL immediately - to protect her security by letting her know she should cancel the cheque - and to request a new one. Have since tried to call and emailed again twice, but had no response at all. Do any of you have any ideas on what to do next?

    2. A good friend of mine moved out of the same property (same landlord) August 2008. He called and called for his deposit, and was told "I have hundreds of properties - I haven't got the time to mess about with £600". Yeah. I know. I believe it got a little heated after that. But, self-employed and with a family and kids to support, he just wrote it off, as they were so difficult to deal with and he just didn't have the time to keep chasing, but I want to get his money back for him. There's also the possibility that the landlord gave the deposit to another departing tenant a year later, who, it transpires, possibly didn't pay his deposit - basically, the LL has given us each of the following explanation, which are all clearly self-contradictory:

    a. We gave his deposit back.
    b. We gave his deposit to A (the later tenant) on the understanding he would hand it over to J (my friend, the departing tenant) (A and J had never met, and didn't know each other).
    c. J forfeited his deposit for not giving proper notice. (He didn't give official written notice, but I did on his behalf, for the correct amount of time, and found a replacement tenant.) And just for clarity, they gave us this 'explanation c' after the other two 'explanations'.

    They lost not a penny on rent. Frankly, it seems to me the LL has done nothing that she were supposed to do. They put the original deposit in a Government-protected scheme, but didn't change the names when the tenants changed, or gave out money to someone with the wrong name (despite charging us £400 each time we renewed, for all the admin involved...). Or just kept the money themselves.

    They have this money that is not theirs, and I would love some advice on how to get it back for my friend. Any advice will be so gratefully received (he's a roofer, out in this weather, trying to make enough for his kids' Xmas presents, and his missus has just kicked him out, and is denying him access, so he's crashing on sofas and is at the beginning of divorce proceedings. I know this info is superfluous, but he needs that £600, and regardless of any 'need', it's his money!) Thank you for reading such an arduous post all the way to the end!

    Kindest regards to you all, and hope you're all wrapped up warm,

    Very nice but severely frustrated tenant

  • #2
    hiya, your best bet is to go to the scheme holders who protected your deposit. they will fight your case for you. it may sound like a complicated process but its so simple. i have heard so many people with the same problems. landlords always use some sort of excuse not to give it back. hence them now having to protect it. if you contact the disputes department then it shouldn't take more than 28 days for you to get it back. it mainly a waiting game for the landlord to reply. if he/she doesnt reply then you'll get it all back from the scheme holders.

    if its not protected or your unsure then try searching on google for the "tenant help line". they charge a fee (not sure how much) but they will do all the leg work for you.

    good luck!!


    • #3
      Originally posted by bargainhunter View Post
      hiya, your best bet is to go to the scheme holders who protected your deposit. they will fight your case for you. Unfortunately they will not 'fight' your case for you. That is not their job
      if its not protected or you're unsure then try searching on google for the "tenant help line". they charge a fee (not sure how much) but they will do all the leg work for you.

      good luck!!
      If you do not know if the deposit has been protected then ask all three schemes, if they have it then they will tell you and you should be able to raise a dispute (See posts by SNORKERZ for a form letter to send to them)
      All this needs to be done by your friend unless he gives you some authority to act for him I suppose, because they will not speak to a third party.

      This assumes the property is in E&W etc.etc.

      About you having your bag pinched. Have you got the all important crime number for the incident? Was the stolen cheque ever cashed? Assuming the money is still with a deposit scheme as protected then you should be able to make the LL give you another one. If the cheque was cashed then the police may well be able to find out who cashed it and charge them (don't hold your breath) and that would enable you to make an insurance claim if you have insurance for contents on your home, it would cover you for such things.
      I offer no guarantee that anything I say is correct. wysiwyg


      • #4
        Assuming the deposits are not protected by a scheme

        1. Send the LL a letter before action. Demand return of the deposit by a deadline. (In your case, explain that the previous cheque was stolen, and note dates of phone calls and emails to LL, and that you've had no response). Say that, if you do not receive payment by the deadline, you will bring a claim in the county court. Post 1st class, keep a copy of the letter and obtain a free certificate of posting (ask for it at the counter).

        2. Meanwhile, buy a book on the small claims procedure; there are a few on Amazon. Or try the local library.

        3. After the deadline passes, if LL still hasn't responded, start the claim - you can do this online at Money Claim Online.


        • #5
          Originally posted by bargainhunter View Post
          if its not protected or your unsure then try searching on google for the "tenant help line". they charge a fee (not sure how much) but they will do all the leg work for you.
          This is very poor advice. OP can get the advice they need on here, or from Shelter, or Citizens' Advice Bureaux, for free.

          Also, I suspect the company you mean is one which is in fact a firm of debt collectors operating under the guise of an advisory service.


          • #6
            This webpage will allow you to check if the deposit is protected:
            And if it isn't, this is the letter refered to by JTA:

            However, from your post, it appears that your landlord has refunded your deposit, which makes the above irrelevant. That you no longer have it isn't his fault, and although one would hope he would have the cheque cancelled and re-issued, this will be time, hassle and probably cost. None of this would be for his security - he's done his bit by sending you the cheque. In view of this, you need to tread carefully to get the result you want - ie friendly, helpful and apologetic phone calls, emails and or letters.

            With regard to the former tenant - not really your problem, and you certainly couldn't take legal action on his behalf unilaterally. If he doesn't want his money - it's up to him.


            • #7
              Thank you all so much. This is excellent, and gives me plenty to start with on Monday morning. I'm a little worried at the idea that because I had a cheque stolen, and notified LL within two hours so that she could cancel it, that I might have lost £600...! I understand that she can - and will - charge me an admin fee for reissue. What would you say is a fair charge? It costs about a tenner to cancel a cheque, I think. So, what, £30? More? And as for home insurance, if that's the only option I have, I had it at the last place, and lost the cheque before starting it up here. ****.

              And I won't be taking legal action FOR my friend - I just want to help. So if I can write his letters for him to sign, and give him relevant phone numbers and contacts and info, I'd be really chuffed.

              Thanks once again all. I really appreciate you taking your time to help me with this. I'm a writer, sub editor and Pilates instructor (yup. Busy) so give me a shout if you need anything along those lines ;-)

              Kindest all,



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