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Estate Agency "Holding Deposit"

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
Hi all,

I'm actually a relative newcomer to the site, but it looks pretty good so far. :)

I have a question about estate agents and their "Holding Deposits" which I'm hoping someone can help with - I'm unable to find any legislation that covers these, and am currently having a problem with it.

The basic situation is:
- On Tuesday we paid £350 as a holding deposit after viewing a flat, with the agreement being 2 months rent & security deposit & a guarantor, and that we'd move in asap.
- On Thursday we're told that we can move in on Saturday, and that everything's checked out. So we organise a man with a van and some utilities etc.
- On Friday we're told we can no longer move in on Saturday as the landlady wants to do an inventory.
- On Saturday we're told that the landlady hadn't agreed to the original terms, and wants 3 months deposit and a change tot he guarantor clause (which was already signed and accepted). When we disagree, they advise that we'll have to wait until Monday for the landlady to reconsider.

Couple that with bad customer service (different stories and never phoning us back), and we don't want anything to do with them anymore, and want to withdraw (It sounds like it'll just be a continuous hassle even after we move in). Now they won't give us our deposit back.

What are our chances?

Any comments much appreciated. :)

Thanks,
Clayton

Comments

  • **helen****helen** Mod malarkist Posts: 9,235 Boards Champion
    Hey,

    It sounds like these people have been giving you the run around and customer service has not been up to scratch at all. In terms of holding deposits - the housing charity shelter says this:
    If you find a property you like, the agency may charge a holding deposit while they take up references. This should be deducted from the amount of rent in advance or deposit you pay once your references come through. The agency might ask for references from your employer, bank and/or previous landlord.

    If you don't move into the property you may lose the holding deposit. If you think the agency has unfairly kept your money get advice. You might be able to claim it back in the county court.

    If you do move in, the agency will probably ask for a deposit (usually one month's rent) and the first month's rent in advance. The amount of deposit and rent in advance required can be more than this, especially if the letting is going to be for a long period of time or if the property is of high value.

    http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/advice_topics/finding_a_place_to_live/renting_privately/letting_agencies

    The fact that the agency told you one thing about the deposit and then changed their minds suggests you may well have a case for withdrawal - I'm not so sure about the guarantor clause though - but best to check with a local advice agency such as the citizens advice bureau.

    Good luck!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks very much for the reply.

    We've since gone to the citizens advice bureau (waited in line for hours to see a voluntary solicitor) and called the 2 estate agency ombudsmans that I know about (neither of which say this particular agency belongs), as well as the office of fair trading.

    Most seem to agree that we should be entitled to our money back given the circumstances, but the challenge is that everything was only advised verbally.

    I'll never pay that much money for a holding deposit again, that's for sure.

    I'm looking into a few options as to how to proceed, but if anyone else has any further suggestions it'd still be much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Clayton
  • **helen****helen** Mod malarkist Posts: 9,235 Boards Champion
    Great to hear you've been so pro-active about this.

    Have you heard of money claim online? Not sure if that would be an option in your case.
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