Withheld deposit - advice much needed & appreciated!

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  • Withheld deposit - advice much needed & appreciated!

    Hi All,

    Appreciate anyone taking the time to read this as gets slightly confusing however I really do not know what to do!

    Moved into a rented property with a friend in 2007. Paid deposit (£1750) and all was done through a letting agency. Property was largely unfrunished so inventory was only for 2 beds and wardrobes. After 18 months in the property and no issues, the landlady suggested changing the contract to manage the property privately. This was fine by us so signed a new contract, which have subsequently renewed twice.

    Moved out of the property at the end of August and the landlady inspected the property and was satisfied with all. The landlady then let the property through an agency who moved the new tenants in with no issues at all.

    In the contract it was specified our deposit would be returned within 10 days however I heard nothing throughout September. When I checked with the landlady - she said she was waiting for a check out report from the estate agent. When I contacted the agency they stated there was no check out report as the property was rented privately. All they had was a check in report for the new tenants that they had supplied to the landlady and there were no issues with the property.

    The landlady refuses to accept this despite being confirmed many times however paid £800 of the deposit back at the end of September with a promise of the remainder on confirmation of the check out report (which doesnt exist). I then contacted our deposit protection scheme who informed me the deposit had been taken out of the scheme over a year ago. When I told the landlady this, she denied knowledge of any scheme, however now claims that she never retrieved this deposit and that maybe I had been paid it directly and need to pay back the £800 of the deposit she sent me immediately.

    If you are still reading and can advise I am very grateful. I believed my deposit was protected and held in good faith. Is it possible it was returned to the letting agency and not the landlady when we switched to a private contact?

    How can I proceed as the landlady is withholding £950 for no apparent reason, has not had the deposit protected for over a year, and refuses to accept that she has any respnsiblity regarding the matter.

    If anyone knows what my next steps should be I would be most grateful.

    Many thanks in advance.....

    Colin M

  • #2
    The deposit protection is a red-herring, it makes little difference to your current situation.

    Which scheme was the deposit protected with?

    Essentially, you are going to have to sue.

    Send a 'letter before action' outlining that you paid a deposit of X on whatever date. Confirm that you have recieved X from her but you now need the balance of the deposit returning. Advise her that if she doesn't return it within 14 days you'll take legal action to recover the balance and any relevant costs.

    If she doesn't cough up, claim at www.moneyclaim.gov.uk.

    The claim should be allocated to the 'small claims track' which doesn't need solicitors and is designed for DIY claimants.

    The initial cost of the claim will be £60, and if it goes to a hearing there will be a hearing fee of £80 - but presuming you win these amounts will be added to the amount the landlady owes you.

    Providing you can prove you paid the deposit, and the landlady can't prove she has returned more than you say then you should win hands down.

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