T vacated but disputes deductions from deposit

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  • T vacated but disputes deductions from deposit

    My daughter has just ended a six month furnished let in a new 'ish' flat in
    centre of Birmingham. She paid a deposit of £700 originally (to letting
    agent) plus monthly rent thereafter.
    The landlord has placed a bill for £720 for damage, loss of furnishings and
    cleaning of property. The main bulk comes from a damaged worktop which is
    to be replaced.
    My daughter disputes all of the amount, the damage and even the cleaning as
    she is particularily meticulous about how she lives and maintained the
    property extremely well, frankly.
    She is absolutely categorically insistent that the worktop was in the exact
    same condition when she moved in.
    The landlord on two occasions at the start of the tenancy told my daughter
    he had NEVER been in the appartment from new (it's about 3 years old) and
    that he had let it previously to other tenants.
    When she arrived, there was an excel spreadsheet left on a table with
    quantities which were wrong, items that did not exist but no reference to
    the state of the property or the furnishings.
    She packed everything into boxes and stored them during her stay, preferring
    to use all of her own belongings. She informed the agent at the outset of
    the discrepancies. No signatures either way were given as to the state,
    condition or quantities of furnishings and fittings.
    The agent is now proposing to return the £700 to the landlord and my
    daughter has, by recorded delivery written to both the agency and the
    landlord disputing all of this money.
    The landlord has not responded and the agency plans to pay the landlord
    within the next 7 days.
    My question is can she prevent the agency from doing so? Can she insist the
    agents 'hold' the money until the dispute is resolved or arbitration (by the
    Residential Landlords association...?) is undertaken?
    If so, what does she need to do? If not, how should she pursue the matter
    in the knowledge that £500 would soon be gone with a solicitor..
    Also, is the agent working for just the landlord or for the tenant as well?
    Any comments helpful


  • #2

    Well done for posting here, I am sure you will get some good replies.

    Would you be able to post a breakdown of what the "damages" were for ?

    If the LL does not have a signed inventory it would be very very hard for him to prove what was damaged and lost by your daughter.

    Is the deposit held as steakholder ? In which case it is not possible for the LL to deduct any moneis without permission from the tenant. If neither can agree it can be resolved via the courts.

    The LL can only deduct the cost of replacing the work top minus fair wear and tear. So even if your daughter did damage it then he could not charge her full replacemeent cost as it is 3 years old.

    I hope some other regulars reply soon.



    • #3
      No signed inventory is (probably) in your favour!

      I come across this far too often I'm afraid. An inventory just left at the property for a tenant to sign is insufficient to form a "basis for assessment" at the end of the tenancy, so I'm always wary of landlord who deduct large amounts.

      Zoe is right concerning the status of the deposit, and the agent is only obliged to pass over the deposit to the landlord on his instructions if it was held as "landlord's agent", but if held as "stakeholder" no deductions can be made without the tenqants express permission, so read the AST.

      Unfortunately I cannot explain to you in detail all the anomalies of such situations as I would be here writing pages for ages!

      The best I can suggest is your daughter sends all her papers and the AST to somebody like Pain Smith whose logo appears on these pages as a pop-up advert. I can personally recommend them as I know Senior Partner Marveen Smith pretty well. A quick phone call to her will help you decide. She would probably be able to drive a "coach & horses" through the agent's documentation, and she would be able to recover her costs too if successful. If it's any compensation, the liklihood of your daughter winning in court is quite high.

      The contract is between landlord & tenant so there is no legal connection between your daughter and the letting agent. However, if they are members of ARLA/NAEA/RICS there will be a complaints procedure to follow and they can be disciplined and even fined. A redress system for compensation is being formulated but that will be too late for your daughter, so go the solicitor route as suggested.

      If you want to name the agent I don't see any harm in doing so; it might warn others, and shame them at the same time!
      The advice I give should not be construed as a definitive answer, and is without prejudice or liability. You are advised to consult a specialist solicitor or other person of equal legal standing.


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