Permitted Occupier - Deposit Dispute

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  • Permitted Occupier - Deposit Dispute

    Hello there,

    I am new to this forum so apologies if this post is not where it belongs, i hope it is though.
    Let me try to briefly explain my situation.

    In the beginning of April I have moved to the room in 2 bed house sharing with just one person. Seemed like quite nice room, with original wood floor, tenant seemed nice. I went ahead. Did not notice anything strange upon inspection, note that i was blinded by the fancy location and the fact i wont be living in share accommodation with another 8ppl as i used to. So i went ahead. Obviously the property was managed by local estate agency which was in touch with landlord.

    The estate agent told me i could be added as tenant from 17/4 so i paid the initial three weeks rent and £1000 deposit to current tenant. I have been told the way it works with deposit is that I pay deposit to outgoing tenant and my name gets assigned to deposit under the estate agency originally paid by current tenant. As the previous tenant was current tenant ex-girlfriend, and according to him she never paid anything, he has asked me to send the deposit to him. It seemed ok to me so i went ahead. Well, right the day i was moving in I noticed the room has actually got funny, musty smell to it. The windows was shut for quite a long time according to tenant so i opened it. Didn't help. I vented the room for 6 days constantly and that didn't solve the issue. It was getting very annoying as even my clothes smelled. Nothing i couldn't live with however not worth the money i was paying. As i have paid the rent and deposit, but actually haven't signed and agreement, i was just the permitted occupier, right?

    Anyway, I have consulted this issue with the tenant and let him know that i will report it to estate agency and if not resolved quickly, i will move out as it is not worth the money(£250/week) which is quite a lot for me as single professional. He was ok with that, i reported that, the process took nearly two weeks for me to get report where it stated that everything is fine and nothing is going to be adjusted. I knew that musty smell must be there for reason - mold or mildew. I have found out the smell is coming from under the wood floor as the floor had big gaps and some gaps were filled with pieces of old newspaper along with some wood filler. After I had a go with the agency they wanted to shut my mouth with suggestions of buying a rug to cover the gaps. What a brilliant solution!! I have managed to take a few pictures where there was visible white moldy stuff on the floor boards from underneath the floor. I have passed those to estate agency, they arrange contractor to do check whom again said everything is fine.

    Anyway , nothing has been resolved so I went ahead and moved out. Based on agent suggestion that if I won't sign the agreement i have to move out asap. I have stayed in that room for about 25 days. On the 5th day i reported issue to tenant and told him if smell is not resolved i am moving out.

    The problem is now the tenant is refusing to give me my deposit back as I haven't given him reasonable leaving notice. The deposit i was supposed to get my name assigned to in estate agency is apparently going to be assigned back to the previous(current) tenant as I have never signed the agreement.

    Could anyone give me advice if there is any chance i could get my deposit back? This 25 days has cost so far over £2k with agency fees included(had to pay £270 for agency fees as well) and left me in pretty shitty situation. I have finally found out place to stay but it is going to take a while to get back to financially stable position again and recover from this few weeks of stress. I would appreciate any opinion or advice on this situation!!

    Many thanks


    PS: Sorry for my long post

  • #2
    What did you actually rent - a room or the whole shared house?
    And who did you rent it from, the tenant or a landlord?
    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).


    • #3
      Sorry for not being clear. I have rented the room as the room was advertised on spareroom. I was meant be replacement for current tenant's ex on the AST. The flat is beeing rented as a whole from estate agency. I was suppose to be paing for portion of the rent to share it with current tenant. I hope this makes any sense


      • #4
        Did you actually sign any kind of agreement?
        Did you get a receipt for the deposit, so you can prove that you did pay that amount as a deposit?

        If you didn't sign a tenancy agreement then from what you say you were a lodger and probably an 'excluded occupier'.
        The other tenant would be your landlord.

        There is no statuatory notice period for an excluded occupier, just 'reasonable notice' which could be as little as 7 days.
        There would be no need for your deposit to have been placed in a protection scheme.

        Write to the landlord (who is the tenant, not the Estate Agent) saying you want your deposit back, there is a letter template on shelters website.
        If he refuses they you will have to take it further, a letter before action and then take him to court (Money claim online).

        Shelter page about excluded occupiers:

        MCOL user guide:


        • #5
          Thanks for you replies guys.

          No, unfortunately I haven't got any receipt that I paid that amount as a deposit. Only the bank statement showing the payment has been sent to his bank account(rent+deposit).
          I guess without receipt it would be really hard for me to prove anything, wouldn't it?



          • #6
            Unless there was some kind of agreement about notice (in the sparerooom advert, or in emails / texts or even in discussion) there isn't any fixed period of notice for a lodger.
            It's meant to be reasonable - which is usually taken as the length of the rent period, so weekly if you pay weekly, monthly if you pay monthly.

            However, the "deposit" has to have a purpose that you have agreed to - if you didn't agree a purpose for the deposit (to be used for unpaid rent or compensation for damage) there's not really any way your landlord can keep any of it.
            A deposit is your money, and they can only keep it (or part of it) with your agreement.
            Normally that agreement is part of the lodger or tenancy agreement, which you don't have.

            I would suggest that you make that point to your landlord in a letter before action (in which you give them a period to return your money and confirm that, if they don't you will take legal action without further notice).
            I wouldn't expect the tenant to pay until you commence proceedings against them which will cost £60 for a claim of £1000.

            I would sign up for Money Claim Online now (I remember it as being a bit fiddly to do) and go through the process.
            It's a fairly simple (if drawn out) process, and, once you have been throughh it once, it isn't the slightest bit daunting again, and you will be much better prepared to deal with the type of people who think they can simply keep your money because the have it in their possession.
            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).


            • #7
              I really appreciate your helpful answers here. That is a great suggestion. I will definitely give that a try.

              Many thanks



              • #8
                It sounds like the issue might be a lack of sub-floor ventilation, which could be relatively easily fixed if the Agent was doing a proper job of monitoring the property. Not your problem though.


                • #9
                  Yeah it definitely is sub-floor vent issue. No, I think the last time the agent has seen this property is probably long time ago. Anyway as I said I have given up on this property and moved out as the floor had growing fungi underneath and neither agency or their contractor would do anything about it. They were saying everything is fine.


                  • #10
                    Reason number 283 not to use a letting agent.


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