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Deposit return - dispute resolution alternatives

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323 views 3 replies latest reply: 12 November 2015
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Tenant

 

Hello all. I have a question related to the return of my deposit. I moved out of my apartment in June and have not yet had my deposit returned by the agent, as they have stated that there is some small damage that requires repair. The report on leaving showed there was some minor damage to a surface, however I contested the amount as the costs appear very excessive for the very minor work and there are no receipts or invoices as evidence for the work, except what the agent has stated what it is estimated cost. These costs are a portion of the deposit. This has now resulted in the agent telling me it needs to be resolved by dispute resolution. However, I naively was not aware that if it goes beyond three months, that you cannot go to dispute resolution to resolve the issue. The agent never informed me of this and has been incredibly slow in replying to queries, often taking weeks to reply to emails. I would be grateful for any advice on what I can do now. Can I still apply to the dispute resolution service and explain the reasons for taking so long to reply. If not, what else can I do?

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Administrator

Hello

The dispute resolution the agent is talking about is the service offered by the deposit protection scheme that has held your deposit and yes that does normally expire after three months. Has none of your deposit been returned at all? Normally, depending on the type of deposit, the non-disputed amount should be returned straight away. I would contact the scheme holding your deposit and see what’s happening with it.

What they’re charging you must be reasonable and you’re entitled to ask for receipts. You can still dispute the amount that they want to keep after 3 months but not via the deposit protection scheme. Instead, you’ll have to make a small claim via the courts. Depending on how much they’re trying to take it might be worth doing it. 

It also might be worth pointing out to the agent that the courts don’t like their time being wasted so if you’re forced to make a claim for that money because the agent is refusing to be reasonable about the amount deducted then the agent is likely to cost the landlord money. They will have to prove to the court that the amount is reasonable in the same way that they would have to prove that during a deposit protection scheme dispute process. I would make what you think is a reasonable offer for the costs in question (in writing) and then give them 5 days to return the rest of the deposit.

It might also be worth looking at the tenancy to see what time limits it places on the landlord when it comes to notifying you of deductions to the deposit. If the agent has taken too long then they’ve put the landlord in breach of contract and you could highlight that to them too.

I’m not a lawyer so if you want legal advice on this have a word with Citizens Advice or a local law centre. But bear in mind that agents will do their best to bamboozle you to try and get you to pay for things you shouldn’t so, first, read your tenancy agreement and, second, don’t take what they say as red and don’t be afraid to make them justify it.

Alex

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Administrator

Here’s some information on making small claims – note the section that says you must try to settle out of court. That applies to the landlord/agent as much as you. If they’re unreasonable, obstructive and demanding it won’t help them.

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Tenant

Hi Alex,

 

I have been informed by the dispute resolution service that I have missed the three month period. But the agent only provided the information I needed after the three month period had passed. Could they have intentionally trying to delay to ensure that this period passed? If so, how can this be right and proper as all the aces lie with them?

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