Landlord withholding my deposit - illegally?

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    Landlord withholding my deposit - illegally?

    Hi all,

    I'm really sorry if this type of question has been answered over and over again, but after an hour or so of searching the forum after coming across the website on google, I haven't been able to find a thread that's close enough to my situation.

    So I was just wondering if I could ask for your advice?

    I thought I'd provide a quick summary in case anyone doesn't want to read through the whole story as it is quite drawn out:

    I paid a £400 deposit in March 2011
    The landlord didn't protect it within 14 days (or notify me within 14 days that he had protected it)
    I moved out in July 2012
    The landlord told me (eventually) how to initiate a repayment claim through the DPS and said he'd need confirmation of utility bills being up to date, either the bills themselves or written confirmation from the current tenants
    I sent him proof - he claimed (eventually) not to have received it
    I've asked him if he can contact the current tenants to obtain the confirmation he needs - he won't respond
    He's rejected my deposit claim through the DPS and won't respond to me to confirm why

    I moved into a property in March 2011, initially on a 12 month contract to end on the 31st March 2012 (it was a shared house of young professionals with three other tenants already present, we each had our own tenancy agreements) and I paid a deposit of one month's rent which was £400.

    The deposit was protected with the DPS.

    Around Feb 2012, as it suited both parties, we agreed to extend the tenancy until the 31st July 2012 although this was only done verbally, nothing was signed.

    I moved out at the end of July and as I hadn't heard from him by the end of August I emailed him to ask him how the DPS works and when he would be returning the deposit.

    It took him several weeks to respond (bearing in mind he used to respond immediately or at least within 24 hours when I was his tenant) and he told me how to request the return of the deposit online and said that all he would need is confirmation that the bills were up to date at the end of my tenancy.

    Of the tenants I had been living with, only one remained living at the property and I contacted her to obtain proof that all the utility bills were up to date. I then posted this to the landlord, sent him an email to advise him that I'd done it and asked him to contact me when he had received.

    Another month had passed without a response from him, so I emailed him twice a couple of days apart asking for an update.

    He finally responded to say that he hadn't received the proof and could I re-send, or that written confirmation or an email from the existing tenants that the bills were up to date would suffice.

    I didn't take photocopies and so I contacted the tenant that had stayed on after I had left the property but she had now left too, I found out she didn't pay a deposit when she moved in. She assured me that she'd email the landlord.

    Over the past several weeks I've sent a number of emails and have left three voicemails to the landlord to ask him if he has received this but he won't respond. I've asked him how I can resolve this and if he can contact his current tenants to obtain the confirmation he needs but he won't respond.

    He has an agency dealing with the property on his behalf and I contacted them last week to ask about the landlords's whereabouts - they confirmed that they couldn't get involved because they didn't hold the deposit but that they'd contact the landlord to advise him to respond to me.

    The landlord has then disputed my deposit claim on the DPS, I've called and emailed to ask why but he won't answer/respond.

    I know that my options are to raise a dispute through the DPS, but his agency said that if I do that it can take months to resolve and that it would be best to resolve with him directly. I was counting on receiving the deposit back before Christmas and so I'm really keen to resolve it without having to raise a dispute.

    I don't know if this is relevant, but when I was reading the other threads about deposits it was mentioned that the deposit needed to be protected within 14 days or the tenant could potentially claim back the deposit x3 - the landlord didn't protect my deposit (or at least I didn't receive the email from the DPS) until about 6 weeks into my tenancy. I don't want the hassle of trying to claim this but would anyone recommend mentioning this as an incentive to him to pay my deposit back?

    Please note, as I know this is an obvious question to ask, but all bills were paid up to date when I left and he has been sent the confirmation he needed. If he really didn't receive the confirmation he needed, he could easily resolve this by contacting his current tenants or asking his agency.

    Is the landlord withholding my deposit illegally? What do you suggest I do?

    Sorry for such a long post and thanks to anyone who has made it all the way through.

    Thanks,
    Sam.

    #2
    Okay, cutting to the chase.

    There are 2 'offences' regarding to deposit protection, but they have changed recently.

    1) Non protection - if your deposit was protected before 5/5/2012 then the landlord is not in breach of that one.
    2) Information - you should have been provided with all the terms & conditions, plus info about how to recover your deposit - again by 5th May - this is called 'prescribed information'.

    Although both issues are punishable by a penalty of up to 3 times the value of the deposit, these cases are what is known as 'part 8' claims - this is bad news for you because it has to be done on a different form and it can not be allocated to 'small claims' - indeed it will be in the 'multi-claims' track. That means court fees in excess of £1000 to get it to hearing. Presuming you win, the landlord would almost certainly be ordered to pay that back to you. Being multi-track, it is much more complex, there is therefore more chance of you getting the claim wrong and therefore losing. This mean an expert landlord & tenant solicitor is esential - more cost!

    There is another alternative - cheaper & simpler - the DPS have an arbitration service (see www.depositprotection.com) or you can launch a claim for the deposit only via www.moneyclaim.gov.uk

    http://tenancyanswers.ucoz.com/index...formation/0-53
    http://tenancyanswers.ucoz.com/index...14_claims/0-45

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      #3
      Originally posted by samaire1 View Post
      The landlord has then disputed my deposit claim on the DPS, I've called and emailed to ask why but he won't answer/respond.

      I know that my options are to raise a dispute through the DPS, but his agency said that if I do that it can take months to resolve and that it would be best to resolve with him directly. I was counting on receiving the deposit back before Christmas and so I'm really keen to resolve it without having to raise a dispute....

      Is the landlord withholding my deposit illegally? What do you suggest I do?
      The LL is not withholding your deposit 'illegally'. It is held by the DPS, and the LL is disputing your claim to it (it is your money unless the LL can prove he has valid deductions).

      So, you either settle the matter direct with the LL and get him to agree to release it, or you raise a dispute with the DPS, or you claim against the LL in the county court. There is no way you will get your deposit back by Christmas with the latter two options, but if you cannot reach an agreement with the LL they are the only ways to get the deposit back. The LL will have to prove to either the adjudicator or the judge that he has a valid case to claim the alleged deductions.

      Comment

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