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Deposit claim after 90+ days

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306 views 2 replies latest reply: 16 November 2015
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Tenant

After moving out 30th July 2015 I have only just received a bill for damages today! (13/11/2015) and I has unable to get a second opinion as the works have already been done and paid. I disagree with the claim. Surely 3months is to long to start claiming as anything could have happened in that time after I left the house?

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Administrator

Hi Peter

They have waited three months because you are now outside the period within which you could raise a dispute with the tenancy deposit scheme that held your deposit. That’s the simplest and easiest way to challenge deductions. I’m not a lawyer but as far as I know your best option now is to go to court and make a claim against the landlord for the return of the amounts that you don’t feel are justified. It’s not actually that difficult to do this – it’s simply a small claims process

If it were me, I would start by writing a strongly worded letter to the agent, indicating you know why they have done this and that you don’t consent to the deductions that they are suggesting. You should point out that the deposit remains legally your property until you consent to deductions(or the landlord proves the right to make the deductions either to the deposit protection scheme disputes service or to the courts) and you don’t consent. Did you do a check out inventory? If they have no inventory then they have an even weaker case for trying to make deductions.

You could offer them what you believe to be a reasonable figure for the work to try and resolve the situation (keep copies of all your correspondence). Make sure you request copies of receipts and invoices for the work from them (and then check them with whoever is supposed to have issued the invoices to make sure they are genuine) so that they must justify the spend. You could also obtain your own quotes to see whether these are market. 

The idea is to try and come to an agreed figure but if not then you’ll need to take the landlord to court. When you write to the agent, you could state that you will also write to the landlord to let them know that you’re taking action against them on the basis of the situation that the agent has put you and the landlord in. Check your tenancy agreement to see what it says about timings for deposit return as there may also be something in there that can help you. Finally, you can complain to all the professional bodies the agent is a member of (ARLA etc) as they can discipline memberes or remove their membership. Sometimes even the threat of that is enough.

Essentially it’s up to you to chase your deposit return, as much as it’s up to the agents – I don’t know how much chasing you did. However, regardless of that, the landlord is not entitled to hold on to any of your deposit without either your consent or proving the right to do so. If you take them to court they will need to  prove loss in order to make their deductions and that’s not always that easy to do, especially if they don’t have an inventory that you agreed – again, sometimes even the threat of that is enough to make agents start behaving themselves.

Hope that helps

Alex

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