Deposit Protection: Court case won against Landlord

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    Deposit Protection: Court case won against Landlord

    Hello all,

    I would like to share my recent experience with you all regarding my previous landlord who failed to protect my deposit and was consequently ordered to pay me three times the deposit amount (plus court costs).

    I used this forum (amongst many other things) quite a bit when I first learned that my landlord had not protected my deposit and I found it very useful. There is, however, quite a bit of misinformation out there and hopefully I can quell some of it with this post. So firstly, I will summarise a few pertinent things (please note I have changed a few pieces to protect my identity, should my ex landlord read this):

    - I was on an AST (and you must be too if you decide to take your landlord to court for not protecting the deposit).

    - My landlord was a company (not some old lady letting her second home - I probably would not have gone to court if that was the case - seeing as it was a company who should have known better (and were awful at being good landlords) I decided to pursue court action).

    - My landlord did not protect my deposit until 10 months into my 12 month tenancy and this was only done after a phone call to them asking whether my deposit had been protected.

    - The prescribed information was not sent. This is an important term and is in the text of the law relating to tenancy deposit legislation. A landlord must send this information to you in the first 30 days of protecting your deposit.

    So, I will go through what I did to successfully take my landlord to court and be awarded 3 x deposit plus court costs (trust me, it is very easy). I will put it in stages to make it easy to follow, rather than chunks of text (ok, so there are chunks of texts!)

    1. Investigate whether your deposit (the money you gave the landlord at the beginning of your tenancy) has been protected. If the landlord has done their job you should know this as you would have been sent the Prescribed Information which will state where your deposit is being held. There are 3 government backed protection schemes and your deposit should be held (protected) with one. The three schemes are listed here: https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection/overview

    2. Once I found out that my deposit had not been protected (about 10 months into my 12 months tenancy) I kept very quiet about it, and you should too. Do not confront your landlord about it - play dumb. I phoned them and asked them whether they had protected it and let them do the work. In my case they lied and said it had been protected the entire time (lol) and then after the phone call hastily registered it with MyDeposits (lol). I didn't care that they then protected it as this was far too late and they had already broken the law.

    3. I waited until my tenancy expired (as you can take the landlord to court over this matter up up until 6 months after your tenancy expired). I also waited until I got my deposit back. Again, lots of misinformation around this. Even if the landlord returns your deposit you CAN still pursue court action for the penalty. By the landlord returning my deposit it did two things - 1. did not give the landlord room to counterclaim for damages as they returned my deposit and by doing so means they were happy with the property, and 2. they could not be funny and start holding on to my money after I tell them about their failure in upholding deposit protection legislation.

    4. So, i got my deposit back and moved out. All was fine - time is on my side - you do not need to rush but its time to step things ups. Write a letter before action. This is a legal necessity and must be done and really should be sent via recorded delivery. A letter before action simply states your case and will alert the landlord to you knowing about the lack of deposit protection. The most important thing here is that you can write (and write well). If you can't spell etc, get some help. Your letter needs to set out your demands and explain why the landlord should pay you this rather than going to court. I asked for 2 times the amount and that this should be paid to me by 14 days. The landlord has three options: Pay up, refute your demands, or ignore the letter. My landlord refuted my demands and argued that because my deposit had been returned and that neither tenant (my wife was also a tenant) had suffered loss, no compensation should be paid. This was his first error in understanding the situation. I was not asking for compensation! Remember, this is a penalty against the landlord for not adhering to tenancy deposit legislation. I could upload my letter before action if enough want it.

    [Continued in the post below]

    #2
    5. After I received his reply (which I got a few days after sending my recorded delivery letter before action), I sent him another letter. I explained that it was not compensation blah blah blah but that it was a penalty etc and that now since the 14 days had expired I would be pursuing court action. From this letter I did not get a reply - he obviously thought I was not being serious and that I would not really go to court.

    6. So, this is the bit that scares most people. Is it difficult? No. Does it take work? Yes. It takes work and a lot of patience. Like I mentioned above you need to be able to write (as you will be filling in a court document) and you need have a bit about yourself. Let me explain what I did.
    The first thing you need is the N208 form from the courts website. This is a PDF document that you can edit and complete electronically - the document itself is a bit cumbersome as at times the boxes to fill in do not like to scroll down - again, take your time. The N208 form is part of the CPR Part 8 court process and is the correct procedure - do not be told otherwise. In fact, state that on the form. I wrote something like: "The claimant is making a landlord and tenant claim (CPR 56.1 (f)) and to comply with CPR PD Part 56 2.1 the claimant is using the Part 8 Procedure. The Part 8 procedure applies to this claim (CPR 8.2(a))." This way even the court clerk can be told.

    So, you fill in the N208 form. This part is the most time consuming part. It needs to be well written and clear - use numbers and put your case forward. Remember you are trying to convince a third party that the landlord has broken the rules and should be penalised for it. Do not put anything that is not true and do not use emotive language. Keep it clear, concise, and to the point. If i get enough requests I will upload my completed N208 form for you all to have a look at. Next, you need to have all your evidence to hand and even referenced in the claim. I used appendices. I attached things like the AST, email correspondence with landlord, evidence of cheque deposit being cashed, and evidence that the deposit had not been protected - you can get this from the 3 deposit protection schemes in writing. Once you have done all this you have to make three copies of it all and post it back to the courts recorded delivery. The court needs three copies - one for their records, one for the defendant (landlord) and one to post back to you with the court stamp on. My court fee was £80, but yours may differ depending on the amount you are claiming for. Check the EX50 court fees form or this site: https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-...ney/court-fees I was claiming for 3 x the amount and this put my claim in the £80 bracket of court fees. To pay this you send a cheque along with your court application.

    7. The next stage is to wait. Again there is no rush - after submitting my claim to court I did not contact the landlord again and they did not contact me. It took about a 2 weeks until I heard anything - the first thing that happens if you have done it right is that they cash your cheque. If you haven't they will return everything to you and you will have to resubmit. So, they cashed my cheque and I receive in the post my claim back (remember you get a copy of your claim back with the court stamp on and claim number). You should also get a letter and a receipt for your court fee. The letter will explain what happens next and the date the landlord has to respond by. At this point the landlord has to either submit counter evidence to the court, settle the matter with you directly, or he might choose to ignore the court papers. My landlord chose to ignore the court papers!

    8. This all happened over the christmas period so everything took ages. I didn't hear anything back from either the court or the landlord, even after the date had expired for the landlord to respond. I emailed the landlord stating that the date had expired and that I will be pursuing a court hearing but again, nothing back. I left it about another 2 weeks as I know things move slowly when dealing with the court. After I had not heard anything for nearly a month I phoned the court (which was taxing in itself - the switchboard was a nightmare to navigate), and got through to someone in the correct department. I gave him my claim number and he pulled up my case file. He confirmed that the landlord had indeed not responded and that this case will be referred to a judge for direction. This means that the judge will assign your claim to a court track for hearing. There was not anything to pay for this. I really did not know what to expect at this stage - I was thinking that I might have to attend court! What actually happened was in fact nothing! Nothing happened for about 3 weeks until I got him from work one day and find a letter from the court saying that my claim had been heard by a judge and the order was set out below. The judge had ordered that the landlord pay me 3 times my deposit amount plus the £80 I had paid the court. It was really very unremarkable and very straight forward.

    9. So, I received a letter stating that a judge has ordered the landlord to pay me an amount of money before 14 days, but at this stage it is only a court order - you still have to get the money from the landlord. I was thinking I might have to enforce the judgement (this would have costed) but after absolutely no communication from the landlord throughout the entire process (aside from the original letter) they suddenly phoned me up and very rudely and agreed to pay. I gave them my bank details and they transferred me the cash!

    TLDR: Took my landlord to court and got some monies.

    Anyway, hope this proves useful to some. I'll stick around and answer any questions that some of you may have. I might upload some of my documents later once I've blanked some information out. Let me know what you might like.

    Esotehric

    Comment


      #3
      That's interesting - thanks for the detail, it's very helpful.

      As the landlord didn't either try and defend themselves or attempt to point out that it's the wrong track for the case, it would be interesting to know what would have happened had they tried.
      Last edited by jpkeates; 31-01-2016, 14:34 PM. Reason: Grammar
      When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
      Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks jpkeates - I think if they had it would have just drawn the process out. I think lack of trying on their part was due to lack of argument; they really didn't have any defense.

        Comment


          #5
          To be honest, I don't have much sympathy with landlord (or their agents) who don't protect deposits.
          It's not that difficult, and it's a bit hard to believe anyone who nowadays says it was done in ignorance.
          So I'm glad you won.

          I'm surprised that more landlords don't try and get the case shifted from track 8 to 7, just to see if the tenant has the funds/confidence to start proceedings that route.

          In most cases, the tenant has the landlord bang to rights, and any defence will fail, but track 7 is much harder work (and the worst the court can do is say no).
          On the other hand, if the tenant is successful the costs are going to be much higher for the landlord/agent.
          When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
          Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

          Comment


            #6
            More to the point, would OP have proceeded if he had been required to use the full CC procedure requiring payment of £1000+ in up front Court fees?

            NB 3. Action can be taken for up to 6 yrs after date when deposit should have been 'protetected', ie 30 days after LL receives deposit.

            Comment


              #7
              Interesting! Diligence, patience, keeping plodding on pays out (again!!).

              Silly Landlord...
              a) Not protecting properly in the first place...
              b) Not defending in court...
              c) Being unnecessarily rude when 'phoning to agree to pay:
              I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

              Comment


                #8
                Should this be posted on a landlords forum? This can only hurt landlords...

                The amount of penalty should be based on the landlord's culpability. I would urge landlords to defend such claim by gold diggers on the basis that they screwed up by that it was a one off and they tried to put it right (by protecting the deposit or refunding it).

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
                  Should this be posted on a landlords forum? This can only hurt landlords...
                  Not much of a landlord if they can't comply with a law thats been out since 2007. Just a rent collector who can't be bothered finding out the simplest of things.
                  "I'm afraid I didn't do enough background checks apart from checking her identity on Facebook" - ANON

                  What I say is based on my own experience and research - Please don't take as gospel without first checking the gospel yourself.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Well, if you do not want to help landlords, perhaps you do not want to help gold diggers either... Or we might as well donate to Shelter.

                    I thought this forum was to help landlords. Everyone screws up now and then.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      jjlandlord,

                      People (landlords and tenants) need to help themselves. Helping a LL after not protecting a deposit after 30 days is like peeing into the wind. If they actually had some brain cells, did 30 minutes of research prior to becoming a 'landlord' then the trivial matter of deposit protection wouldn't arise. This is why my sympathy level on this matter is zero and also why deposit protection (or lack of) will never ever be an issue for myself. A mandatory 10X penalty with the stipulation the LL must be sent a postcard from the tenant on whatever holiday they have ended up paying for wouldn't phase me in the slightest

                      A google of 'first time landlord guide' will yield a guide spelling out for thickos what they need to do to comply with the law.

                      'Landlords' who fall foul of this are taught an expensive lesson and I'm sure they'll never do it again. If only they'd given themselves a free lesson prior.
                      "I'm afraid I didn't do enough background checks apart from checking her identity on Facebook" - ANON

                      What I say is based on my own experience and research - Please don't take as gospel without first checking the gospel yourself.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Point 9 of the second link from google.

                        9. Collect the deposit and start receiving rent

                        You are legally required to put your tenant’s deposit in a government protected scheme. We register deposits with a scheme such as My Deposits to the benefit of both tenants and landlords. It will soon be time to collect the rent. You’ll need to decide whether you want to do this yourself, or let your agent take care of it.
                        "I'm afraid I didn't do enough background checks apart from checking her identity on Facebook" - ANON

                        What I say is based on my own experience and research - Please don't take as gospel without first checking the gospel yourself.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          We'll see the day you hit a bump on the road if you still enjoy being on your high horse.

                          A landlords forum in effect publishing a guide on how a tenant can squeeze the most out of his landlord is bonkers in my opinion.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by jjlandlord View Post
                            We'll see the day you hit a bump on the road if you still enjoy being on your high horse.
                            That's a bit unfair. I'll hit a bump, that's for sure. What's also for sure is that it won't be a 'my tenant is taking me to court for non protection of deposit' bump.

                            It's a black and white scenario. Receive a deposit. Follow the law that is a decade old next year.
                            "I'm afraid I didn't do enough background checks apart from checking her identity on Facebook" - ANON

                            What I say is based on my own experience and research - Please don't take as gospel without first checking the gospel yourself.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by mariner View Post
                              More to the point, would OP have proceeded if he had been required to use the full CC procedure requiring payment of £1000+ in up front Court fees?

                              NB 3. Action can be taken for up to 6 yrs after date when deposit should have been 'protetected', ie 30 days after LL receives deposit.
                              Yes, I would have. I was very confident that I would have won the case and thus the LL would then have pay further court costs. He would have been silly to challenge and incur further costs for himself.

                              Comment

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