Landlord refuses to pay back deposit

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    Landlord refuses to pay back deposit

    Hi everyone,

    in December last year I moved out of a flat in Yorkshire, I left the place in top condition and there was no damage. In January I called the letting agents to see when I would get my deposit back, they said the flat would be inspected then the deposit should be returned to me if there were no problems.

    I did not hear back for quite some time and I thought it may have been due to the money taking a while to transfer. When I called up again this month the letting agent said the landlord would be in touch with me. Another week went by and again nothing, so I called again and they told me they would call the LL and get her to call me. I called them again for the next few days until finally the LL called.

    She said I had damaged the mattress that was worth around £350, and also that the flat was really dirty and took 2 whole days of cleaning. Both of which are untrue. I would maybe say the oven was slightly dirty, but that would maybe take an hours cleaning at the very most. She said that the cost of the mattress plus the cost for them to clean the flat would total my £525 deposit.

    I said to her that I did not think that the mattress was damaged and it would not have taken 2 days of cleaning and that she would need to produce some proof that this was the case. She said the mattress had been thrown out and that the flat had been cleaned. I also phoned back to the letting agent to ask them if they had done a final inspection, they said "no, the landlord does that", which I found surprising as that gives the landlord a free reign to make up any story they want.

    What should be my next move? The deposit is currently sitting in the Deposit Protection Scheme and has not been touched. What sort of price will I be looking at in legal fees?

    #2
    Was there an inventory done at check-in? And check-out? I'm pretty sure that it's up to the landlord to prove that that wasn't the condition the house was in when you moved in, and a signed inventory goes some way to doing that. If there isn't one, she'll be hard pressed to prove that this alleged damage was caused by you.

    It also seems convenient that the figure she's come to seems to exactly equal your deposit. Ask for invoices / quotes for the repairs she is telling you about.

    If she can't provide these, tell her you're going to have to raise a dispute with the DPS. If this doesn't make her change her mind, then raise a dispute with the DPS. It's free, so shouldn't cost you in legal fees. The caveat (I think, correct me others if I'm wrong) is that she doesn't have to agree to be bound by their decision. If it went to court though, I would think that again she would need to show that you had caused this damage (with proof of the condition of the property before and after).

    This advice is based on past (successful!) experience I have had with deposits - it's not a legally informed view. I'm sure if there's anything wrong with what I've said, legal bods from the forums will jump in, but I wanted to make clear I'm not a trained legal advisor, just an experienced tenant

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      #3
      Thanks for your advice. Yes I did check and sign an inventory when I moved in but there was I was not asked to do a check out inventory. I will ask for an invoice of all the things she has said I have damaged, I'm quite sure she will supply one but it's going to be well over the true amount.

      Another point worth noting is that she told me that she contacted the company that she bought the mattress from to find out how much she bought it for, so by this I assume she does not have the receipt. I don't remember the exact model/make of mattress so how am I to know she hasn't just asked for a quote of a more expensive model?

      What happens when I open up a dispute with the DPS?

      Comment


        #4
        Hi ap,

        Raising a dispute through the DPS is pretty easy, and it is binding on the landlord in the sense that the DPS will pay out the deposit based on their decision.

        In the first instance, you should find your DPS registration details and log in to their website, which is deposit protection . com (This site tells me I'm not allowed to post links).

        There is a system on the site for you to make an offer to the landlord. If you think the property was left in good nick then offer the landlord £0. Select the option agreeing to ADR (giving permission for the DPS to resolve any dispute) and wait for the landlord to respond.

        In terms of legal fees, the process is free of charge. If it gets sticky, you might want some help, but see how you go.

        T_D

        Comment


          #5
          Having been through a termination with an awkward (not malicious, just thick) landlady who persistently delayed the deposit return because she 'was very busy with other things, I might have a couple of things to offer hear.
          It sounds like you've moved out a couple of months ago yet your landlord hasn't actively notified you of any dispute. You seem to have been made aware of it by asking him - two months later.
          The landlord can only keep part of the deposit if the reasons are in writing and evidenced. Don't make an offer to your landlord if you believe there was no reason to withold anything. By making an offer, you imply liability.
          Bypass the landlord and set up a dispute through the deposit protection scheme who will manage it for you. OR apply to the DPS for a single claim form. With a single claim, the landlord is forced to correctly respond to the dispute via the DPS who will arbitrate. If he doesn't respond, you get the deposit back by default within a couple of weeks.
          Key points: time and evidence.
          I may be a housing professional but my views, thoughts, opinions, advice, criticisms or otherwise on this board are mine and are not representative of my company, colleagues, managers. I am here as an independent human being who simply wants to learn new stuff, share ideas and interact with like minded people.

          Comment


            #6
            Raise a dispute with the DPS and make sure that you have written evidence of everything that has happened. Even if this is only you writing down the days that you chased both the landlord and the letting agent about the deposit. The DPS arbitration scheme works purely on written evidence. The more that you can prove in writing the better chance you have (please keep copies of everything that you send them). The landlord/letting agent should have checked you out of the property on the day you left and most certainly should have dealt with the matter before now.

            My son challenged his deposit last year and achieved getting it all back because the letting agent had failed to check him out and couldn't prove the claim for damages. Like you he had left the flat immaculate.

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