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Unprotected Deposit and No inventory

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474 views 1 replies latest reply: 11 May 2015
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Tenant

Good afternoon,

My partner and I rent a house under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy which is due to expire on 1 July. Our Landlord is looking to sell the house. We have made an offer on a property for sale nearby and hope that the sale completes in time but if not, we might have to stay in the rented house for a bit longer.

I have a few questions and concerns regarding where we might stand if we don’t leave at the end of the tenancy….

Firstly when we moved into the property our deposit was not put into a Government protection scheme.  Following research I now know that this means any S.21 notice is invalidated so we can use this to buy more time in the house if necessary.  In order for LL to serve a valid notice, I think they would have to give back the deposit.  Does the deposit have to be returned in full?  I think this could buy us an extra 4 months after expriy of the tenancy.

Secondly no inventory was done when we moved into the house.  Does this mean any claim for disrepair would not be valid as LL cannot back it up with evidence? Who has the responsibility of proving whether the damage was done by us as the current tenant or already there? We have actually looked after the house quite well considering it’s run down state (see point 3) and even made some improvements eg decorated and put in new flooring but this was without LLs consent, so I’m worried they might try and use this as a quick method to evict us using s.8 notice?

Thirdly , the house is actually technically unfit to occupy. There is mould, no central heating, subsidence and water leaks through the ceiling when it rains.  It was like this when we moved in. I am worried that LL might try and claim these are problems we should have addressed and try and charge us for something like repair or neglect or something. Is this something they could do?  Would anyone recommend me contacting Environmental Health as a back up if LL does become difficult or would this just stir the hornets nest?

Apologies for the big list of questions, any help is very much appreciated.

Thanks

Hannah

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Administrator

Hi Hannah

Yes, as far as I know if the landlord either put the deposit into a scheme or paid it back to you then that would make a section 21 notice valid. I would imagine it does have to be returned in full yes (but you might want to check that with Citizens Advice or Shelter as I’m not a lawyer). You can also make a court claim for 1-3 times the amount of the deposit as compensation, even once the deposit is paid back. That can be a useful negotiating point.

The inventory is something that proves and disproves things for both the landlord and the tenant – it’s a good idea to make sure you do one as it will provide you with proof of what you’ve done and not done too. When it comes to getting a deposit back the onus is normally on the landlord to prove damage but I’m not sure whether that would be the case in other circumstances. The thing about a section 8 notice is that it’s essentially based on you having breached the tenancy in some way – making improvements would not amount to disrepair as far as I know. You can also make a defence to a section 8 notice and you can counterclaim for the state of the property as a breach of tenancy – this significantly lengthens out the time it takes to remove someone in this way, which is why landlords prefer section 21. 

Those issues are the landlord’s to fix unless they are the direct result of your action or inaction – so, for example, if the mould is only present because you didn’t use any ventilation. If the landlord is aware of all that then there’s no obligation on you but if he/she wasn’t then you may have been under an obligation to tell them about it. However, if it was all like that when you moved in the landlord can probably be taken to be aware of it (this is where an inventory would come in useful to you). What about gas safety checks – have they been carried out?

I would collect as much evidence as you can right now – of the state of the building, any correspondence between you and the landlord, an unprotected deposit and what state everything was in when you moved in. It may be that you can come to a mutually agreeable move out date without having to do anything other than negotiate.

Alex

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