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Deposit problems

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1139 views 1 replies latest reply: 21 November 2013
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Tenant

My landlord doesn’t have my deposit in one of the 4 places its meant to be kept. He has said that his letting agent that he left in Sept 2012 never returned it when they went bust in march this year. My contract was due for renewal in Sept but he has been trying to sell and no contract has been signed. I am hoping to move now as I don’t want to get tied to a new long term contract when house sale is sorted. Where do I stand as I need a new deposit to move.

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Tenant

Hi Ian, I’m really sorry you are having this problem! As far as I’m aware (this is the case in Scotland anyway) it is the landlord’s responsibility, not the letting agent’s, nor yours, to ensure your deposit is kept safe with one of the deposit agencies. This needs to be done within 30 working days of you handing over your deposit. The fact that the letting agency went bust is completely irrelevant, as it is HIS responsibility. Additionally, there was a 7 month interval between you paying the deposit and moving in and the letting agent going bust, so his is a ridiculous excuse, as securing the deposit needs to be done within 30 working days. My advice is to take the landlord to small claims court asap. According to the law (again, here in Scotland) he could be sentenced to pay up to three times the amount of your deposit, either for not returning the deposit or for not securing it. For example, if he were to give you your money back tomorrow, you could still sue him for not securing your deposit within 30 days. I was in a similar situation to this and was advised by the council HMO office and Citizens’ Advice (both of which you could also contact) that this area of the law is completely black and white and that there is absolutely no justification for not securing deposits. In the one case of this in Scotland that went to court, the judge ordered the landlord to pay x3 the amount of the deposit, and the HMO office in my city told me that they estimate hundreds if not thousands of out of court settlements – usually the deposit plus a bit more to the claimant – because the lawyers the landlord hires are advising settling out of court (since the court judgements will be in favour of the tenant). I hope this helps!

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