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Trouble having deposit released

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456 views 1 replies latest reply: 21 September 2014
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Tenant

Hi,

4 weeks ago I ended a rental tenancy. The agent holds our deposit who is a member of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

We had a checkout with the agent who agreed that the house looked in excellent condition (in many respects in better condition than was written in the inventory). There were a couple of minor points that the Agent said that she wanted to notify the landlord about though.

8 working days later we were written to by the agent saying that they were waiting for the landlord to respond to the minor points.

13 working days after the end of the tenancy the agent wrote again saying that the landlord had dismissed the minor points but had found some other damage that they were considering and were going to get a quote for. This new damage had not been mentioned during checkout and we deny being the cause of it.

Our contract states:
[QUOTE]”The agent must tell the tenant within 10 working days of the end of the Tenancy if they propose to make any deductions from the Deposit.
If there is no dispute the Agent will keep or repay the Deposit, according to the agreed deductions and the conditions of the Tenancy Agreement. Payment of the Deposit or any balance of it will be made within 10 working days of the Landlord and the Tenant agreeing the allocation of the deposit…”[/QUOTE]

I informed the agent immediately that we denied being the cause of the damage but it was academic since the contractual time for proposed deductions had passed. The agent replied saying they would wait to see what the landlord said.

It is now 4 weeks from the end of the tenancy. We heard nothing back from the agent and still no proposals of deductions have been made. I wrote again today stating that I would like the full amount paid ASAP. The agent replied that she had chased the landlord earlier that day but couldn’t release the money until both parties agreed. Every time I mention the terms of the contact I am just ignored.

So my question is do I have the right to insist that the agent release the money? I’d like to back up insisting we have the money paid back with something. I’m not sure whether to raise a dispute with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme? Or is this a breach of contract that a county court should deal with? I’d prefer not to have to actually dispute the damage if possible since the accusation was quite insulting and the landlord can be quite unpleasant and intimidating.

Many thanks for any advice.

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Administrator

Hi, thanks for writing in the forum. Deposit disputes are very common and can be incredibly stressful for tenants who are usually in need of their money due to the expense of moving.

With regard to the letting agent, it would seem as though they did their best to keep you informed about your landlord’s decisions regarding the deposit, but by what you have said, they have broken the terms of their contract in that you were not informed of any deductions the landlord wanted to make within 10 days of the end of the tenancy.

It sounds as though the landlord is being difficult and as the letting agent has explained, they are unable to release the deposit to you as you are in dispute. But 4 weeks is excessive and you are right to want a resolution and the return of your money.

Dispute Resolution Services come free of charge and it is important to know that it is the landlord’s responsibility to prove that you have caused damage to the property, not your responsibility to prove that you didn’t cause the damage.

If this damage does not appear on the checking-out inventory, you signed the document when you moved out and kept a copy of it for your own records, then it sounds as though it may be difficult for the landlord to prove. If the damage came about as a result of your negligence, for example, you didn’t report a leak in order to prevent damage to the property, then the landlord may have a legitimate case against you.

It is possible to call the scheme where your money is protected to speak to an adviser about your situation before making the decision to make a claim. Please be aware that if you do use the service, the decision is final. If you are certain you did not cause the damage or were not neglectful, it might be the push the landlord needs to finalise the matter and release the money.

All the best.

Disclaimer: This information is derived from personal experience and should not be relied upon as a definitive or accurate interpretation of the law.

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