Can agent withhold deposit to pay outgoings?

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  • Can agent withhold deposit to pay outgoings?

    i've a couple of q's - like to hear your opinions.

    Number 1 is: is it true and right that agents hold back the deposit until they have proof that all utility bills etc have been settled and finalised? then the money comes around 3 weeks later? How does this relate to my tenancy agreement where it says that landlords are not responsible for utilities etc (ie why hold the money back then?).

    Question two: do people ever not pay their last months rent and tell them to take the money out of the deposit?

    My reason for asking - we're moving because the landlord / agent wants to up our rent by 45%.

    This is the final straw in a long list of issues. We've had a bad time - dreadful communication, small jobs not done, landlord knocking on the door demanding we pay the rent although we have and the agent has not passed it on etc etc etc. the house is nice but not brilliant. there was no inventory. it was bought but nothing done to it - it was cleaned but we have to move old furniture out and throw away the old occupants left behinds including store cupboard food and linen.

    Having experienced what these people are like, we have a bad feeling we are going to have a problem getting the deposit back - we paid the insisted for 10weeks deposit because we have two cats.

    Given that we're stretching ourselves to find the move in deposit for the next place, would i be better safeguarding myself by stating very clearly I will pay for fair wear and tear but it has to be mutually agreeable and I cannot and will not be not held to ransom?

    For instance, they could say I am responsible for the curtain rail falling down -in reality the place is slightly damp and the rawl plugs just failed. And the carpet in the hall is coming away from the runners - they had a plumber in to fix a leak - he never put it back properly. Petty stuff but these people will try it, i'm sure.

    I dont want to do anything illegal. I'm just fed up with being the one who has to take this ***, if that makes sense.

    If I decide to do this, the agent will still have a good £1500 of my money - is she likely to get really snotty then? and could she cause problems with my new agent? I dont want anything to go wrong with new place.

    Thanks for listening - as I said - all comments welcome!

  • #2
    What date was the AST issued and if it is a fixed term contract, when does/did it expire? What does the AST say about rent increases? Do you know your landlords residential address?

    My understanding is that paying more than 2 months rent is unusual - more experienced posters may be able to tell you why.

    I don't think you understand the concept of wear and tear - don't make any offers. Wear and tear refers to the normal degradation of the property under normal usage (for example, conventional wear on carpets and where they might thin at doorways) and is simply something that a landlord has to accept and not make deductions from the deposit.

    Wear and tear is different from tenants accidentally or through negligance damaging the decor or furnishings (coffee stain on the carpet, cat urine, etc).

    In a worse case scenario and your deposit is unfairly witheld after you've, you can take your landlord to court via the small claims process (despite the fact that you paid it to an agent, the landlord is usually ultimately responsible for its return). Look at the Moneyclaim online site and the Shelter website for information on how to do this. It's quite a simple and cheap process and you may well find that the lack of inventory increases your chances of winning the case as the landlord will struggle to prove the condition of the property without it.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by glantisant View Post

      Question two: do people ever not pay their last months rent and tell them to take the money out of the deposit?

      !
      Yes they do I beleive this is one on the main reasons a lot of Landlords and agents now ask for a deposit higher then the monthly rent X 1.5 & 2 is not uncommon

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      • #4
        If there was no inventory, it would be very difficult for the landlord to make any deductions for damage. In the circumstances you describe, if you disputed any such deductions, you would win.
        As johnboy has pointed out, it's not at all uncommon for a leaving tenant to ask/tell the landlord to use the deposit to pay the last months rent. This practice is of course legally and morally wrong - it isn't what both parties agreed to.
        In your case, you have paid 2 months rent as deposit, so if you refuse to pay the last months rent you may be certain of maximum resistance to paying back the rest of the deposit and also, as you mention yourself, any reference provided by your landlord will contain this negative information.

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