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landlord retaining deposit

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
I moved into my flat before the deposit protection scheme came into existence, so my deposit went direct to the letting agent. Now my cunt of a landlord is trying to charge me for things that are clearly normal wear and tear (I won't go into details or I may never stop, but trust me on this), and he wants to keep my entire deposit. He's blatantly taking the piss. Is my only option the small claims court?


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Yep. 'fraid so
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Aagghhh. I thought that would be the answer.

    Has anyone ever done this before? Are we likely to have any success?

    To be honest I don't care that much about the money - it's not a huge amount and I don't need it. It's the principle. We lived there for five and a half years, never paid the rent late, were model tenants, and he is trying to charge us for stuff like repairing the sofa cushions, when there is nothing in any way wrong with them, except that they are five years older. He's a cunt and I would rather set the money on fire than let him have it

    Do I have a right to demand evidence that the work I am being charged for has been done?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You should put everything in a letter explaining what you feel is wrong and asking for either a) a refund or b) evidence that the money was spent. If the landlord doesn't reply then your only option will be the small claims court and, unfortunately, there is a fee you have to pay to make a claim. If you win then the fee gets added to the debt, but there comes a point when you have to question whether it's worth it.

    Sadly most landlords know most tenants know it isn't.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Yeah, I'm quite sure that's what he is banking on, that we won't bother to pursue it. Well I will, just on principle. I'm quite prepared to waste my time and energy making sure that prick doesn't get to keep my entire deposit.

    Grrrr. Modern life is so infuriating. I spent two solid days cleaning that flat before I left making sure it was immaculate. Had I known he was going to do this, I wouldn't have wasted my time.
  • LauraOLauraO Posts: 535 Incredible Poster
    Hi Jamelia,

    It's sounds as though you are having a bit of a nightmare with your landlord and having rented many properties myself I know how frustrating it can be :banghead:

    Arctic roll has given some great advice already. If you want to speak to someone else about your rights then you can get in touch with Citizen's Advice Bureau either in person, online or on the phone. There is also a really helpful section on Shelter's website for private renting tenants, landlord problems and how to get legal advice. They also have a community legal advice line which you can call to talk your situation through.

    We also have some info on TheSite.org including this true story about someone who successfully took their landlord to court because of a similar situation to yours. It explains the process they went through so it is definitely worth a read. It seems to be a really common issue, and someone submitted a question about it to our askTheSite service too, and you can see the answer here.

    It sounds as though you want to take this further on principle and if so it's important you know the facts, your rights and have some help. Therefore, the best place to start would probably be to chat to either Shelter or CAB :)

    Hope this helps as a starting point and good luck standing your ground :thumb:

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks so much Laura, those links are all fantastically helpful :)

    I have taken the first step of sending a letter explaining why we dispute each charge, and demanding return of the deposit within 14 days or we will proceed with the small claims court. I'm not optimistic the guy will see reason, but I live in hope!

    Thanks again for the help. This site is amazing :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Just in case it's ever of any use to anyone else, thought I would mention this...

    Been to the CAB and was told that we must try arbitration before beginning court proceedings. Apparently if you haven't tried to resolve it out of court through mediation, then they get really pissed off with you, throw out your case and make you pay the opponent's costs.

    So I think that means our next step is small claims mediation.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hmm, that's not quite true. You have to take steps to try and resolve the matter before court- hence why I told you to write to them- but mediation isn't always required. There is a pre-action mediation step when you issue a claim but in reality you say he owes the money and he says he doesn't, it's a waste of everyone's time.

    However I expect the CAB adviser just read AdviserNet to you. I know it says that.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Here's the latest. I wrote him a letter, refuting each charge one by one, and demanding our deposit back, minus the amount I am prepared to pay for things we did break (there were a couple of small items we broke by accident. It's to be expected during five years!) I said that if he didn't repay this amount, I would begin small claims proceedings.

    He has replied rebutting each of my rebuttals, and ultimately making the following offer:

    1) we accept £375, which is half of our £750 deposit, and let him keep the other half, and then the matter is closed
    2) alternatively, he will return the entire amount I asked for, but then take me to the small claims court to recoup his losses

    Am completely bemused now - I did not expect that! Any thoughts, Arctic? Or anyone else?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Just ask him how much he considers his losses to be, the fact that he has offered half/half tells me that its not the full amount. Make sure you keep evidence of this offer of his, it sounds like he is trying to worm his way out of things.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Sounds like a threat to me. I'd accept the latter option but do not spend it. The worst that would happen then is that, should he issue court proceedings and you lose, you can pay it back to him on the day and you won't even have a CCJ on file.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think that ^ sounds like a great option.

    I am in the U.S. so the laws are probably different, but I went through something similar many years ago.

    I had rented an apartment when I was pregnant. The leasing agent showed me two models, and I told her I wanted the one with the gray color scheme, because the other one, which had a blue color scheme, smelled strongly of pet urine and it made me nauseous to be in it. She agreed, and told me to come to the office to sign the lease, which I did. She made a mistake and wrote the apartment number on the lease as the bad apartment, and I didn't notice the numbers, so I signed. I picked up the keys the following week and was unhappy when I discovered the mistake. The office refused to change it, saying I'd already signed for it. That was just the beginning. There were so many roaches in the place that I once opened a 450 degree oven and discovered one crawling inside the oven door! They ordered an exterminator out, but he refused to spray because I was pregnant.

    I contacted Legal Aid because I had no money to hire an attorney and couldn't afford to lose my deposit. The told me to document everything - to kill the roaches and keep them, to write letters rather than talking to the office, and so on. I followed their advice. I wrote a request to be released from my lease, and I hand delivered it along with a jar full of dead roaches. They never provided any acknowledgment except the initials I got when I delivered my letter.

    They kept my entire security deposit when I moved out after two months, and they took me to small claims court to sue for the rest of the lease. I countersued for the security deposit. The judge decided that each party would bear their own costs, so they didn't get anything more from me, but I didn't owe anything or get my deposit back, either.

    Here is what I learned from the experience:

    - If you're going to court, hire an attorney if it's feasible. If it isn't, then get VERY familiar with the process (when the claimant and respondent speak, and for what reason.) I didn't know the difference between an opening statement and a closing argument, and never had a chance to present my witnesses because of it. I believe I would have won if I'd known.

    - I also learned that landlords can sue for "double damages" in some places. I'm wondering if that's your landlord's plan, because if you actually have say, $200 that he could legitimately ding you for, he could gain $400 at worst, and $1500 at best if there are laws like this in your area.

    - Finally, I discovered that attorneys can represent people in small claims court, too. I represented myself, but that apartment complex had a practiced attorney who appeared for them instead of an actual person who was involved in any of it.

    ETA: I think the landlord knows you're building a case, and offered you 1/2 because for most people $375 would be easier to forfeit than committing the time, energy, and uncertainty that a court case brings. When I was a Realtor in the U.S., I had a broker who routinely resorted to this method to avoid court and still keep money. That's why I think the above suggestion to take the $750, and keep it and the letter safe for a while, is a good one. I have a suspicion that he will not follow through on his threat.

    Good luck!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Its £750 not $750, and i think the law differs vastly from the Us to the UK.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Has your landlord itemised exactly what he's charging you for from your deposit? I was in a similar situation a few years ago and Shelter advised me if the case went to court he would need to produce receipts for redecorating etc. I agree, it does sound like he's trying to scare you into backing down, so I would take the money and tell him you'll see him in court. It's not a nice position to be in, but unfortunately there are a fair few cowboy landlords out there, hope it goes well for you.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    Its £750 not $750, and i think the law differs vastly from the Us to the UK.

    That was offensive!

    Sorry, I don't know how to make the correct symbol, so I used the one I know - both are units of money and I figured the readers here are smart enough to know what I meant. I also recognize (and mentioned) that the laws are different. Neither of those things changes the points I made, but if you'd like to discredit my post for silly things, I can return the favor by highlighting your errors as well, like how it's U.S. and the word I is capitalized.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Was it shite offensive. This is a UK based website and the OP is based in the UK. Most of your post is completely irrelevant- the laws are not slightly different, they are completely different. The court procedure in the UK is not slightly different, it is completely different.

    Other than that, as you were.
  • **helen****helen** Deactivated Posts: 9,235 Supreme Poster
    Just wanted to say I can see that you probably put a lot of effort and thought into your reply which in itself is positive. However, it's true that the law is very, very different in the UK and so providing info about the US does unfortunately have the potential to confuse rather than help. Anyhow, I'm sure you can see that now and recognise that people weren't doubting your good intentions, they just wanted to clarify the difference for you and the OP. :)
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