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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 69914
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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Dear Sir or Madam, I have asked a question regarding my security deposit here a couple of days ago. Before I sue my previous landlord I would like to clarify some of my concerns. First of all, my previous landlord failed to register my security deposit
to the DPS or any other government authorised security deposit protection schemes so it is obvious that he violated a housing law. He was fully aware of it, however, he blames on the delay payment from an agency led him ended up with not registering with the
DPS. Secondly, he has terminated his contract (my contract) with the agency for some reason in the middle of the contract but he asks me that I didn't complete my tenancy as a tenant so he has a right to hold my money which is apparently my money, it is just
in his account. I had asked the agency regarding my contract, they answered that they don't manage the property any more so I informed my leave a month before. However, now the landlord says he needs to see a paper which shows I mentioned my leave 2 months
before based on the contract. Thirdly, he mentioned that he did not know about the money was sent to his account at that time so he failed but when I was leaving his flat he clearly mentioned that he wants to deduct money from my deposit to cover a repair
charge caused by me which is also very suspicious as I didn't do anything to cause a damage. He points out that I pointed a shower head at one particular point so I caused a massive leaking damage to downstairs.. He apparently violated a housing law and holding
my money without any legal document or my agreement. I have mentioned that I am willing to discuss further a cost of the damage if they are essential and I also told him that my insurance company will be covering the cost but he seems not to be understanding
and don't agree to refund. He discontinued his contract by himself but pretending that it never happened and now just looking at a contract (a record )with the agent and telling me, a failure of my tenancy as a reason of holding my money. I have a message
from the agency saying they didn't manage the property at the time so it is clear he has been telling the agency things which are not true. He acted right within a sprit of law although he ignore an actual law.. Please help, I would like to solve and stop
him from doing this deposit fraud before he does this to someone else. Best regards, Hiroto
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: UK Property Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He says that he acted right within a sprit of law although he ignore an actual law.. Please help, I would like to solve and stop him from doing this deposit fraud before he does this to someone else.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
So, in short, he hasn't secured your deposit and he wants to make reductions?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thank you so much for your reply.No, he hasn't registered my deposit to any of the deposit protection schemes and he says that he needs to keep my money for damage I caused which is apparently his excuse in order to refurbish his old shower room (he replaced everything).
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When I was staying in the flat, I asked my previous agency Oliver's regarding my contract and they told me that they don't manage the property anymore and advised me that I need to speak with my previous landlord directly regarding the contract and my tenancy. So, the landlord terminated my/his contract with Oliver's and told me that vacating notice is one month. I told gave him one month notice. I even paid one month rent in advance.. though I actually didn't stay there for the last month as I needed to leave UK. Only reason my previous landlord insists is that I didn't give Oliver's or landlord 2 months vacating notice so he can hold my deposit. I have managed to recover my old phone's text messages so I have an evidence. Oliver's told me that If I can find an evidence of mentioning about the vacating notice, they will process my deposit back.. However, after I sent them my evidence they have been keeping quiet and ignoring my messages etc..Should I write to a Redness Scheme and report? The agent from Oliver's has been not very nice and they seems not to be interested in helping me with this matter though it is a part of their fault.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Did you cause damage?
Does damage exist?
Was it there when you were there?
If so did you report it?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I took a shower just like people do but the landlord says that I pointed a shower head at one particular point so that caused a massive leak damage. The shower room was old when I moved in so I asked the agent and a man told me everything is in a good condition though there were some cracks and right near the showerdoor there was a rotten corner so I doubted.. I assume nobody asks to replace a whole shower room just because it looks old.. right?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I didn't report though I asked if the showerroom was okay then I trusted what they said.. one day a lady downstairs came up to me and told me that there was a leak.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The landlord is a DLY landlord so he was fully aware of the damage and everything else.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
**DIY
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It is not very visible but please have a look at the right corner of the showerroom. there's a gap between a white tile and the floor? That was the rotten corner which was covered by a huge rag when I moved in.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Well, that is certainly right. But that won't be the basis of his claim.
It is difficult to tell here.
In relation to the deposit, if you on an AST then it should have been protected. In theory, if it was not then you have a claim for up to three times the sum of the deposit and organisations like Shelter will be very optimistic about that. The reality is that I have never yet seen anybody get more than their deposit back. The claim is for 'up to three times' the amount not a minimum of and Courts don't like enriching people with double or treble compensation. The real sting is that landlords can't serve a valid S21 notice until the deposit is protected.
If the deposit wasn't protected then you can't complain to the scheme because they have no jurisdiction but you can sue at the small claims court.
In relation to the reductions, whether the deposit was protected or not he does have a claim against you for damage. It is quite difficult to tell here and every case turns on it's facts. Overall, you seem to be saying there was no damage. If his complaint is that the bathroom looks old then that is not your problem. It is for him to decorate and maintain his property. If he is alleging some form of damage then he will need to produce evidence of it. If it wasn't there when you were there then it must have been done subsequently which is possible. It depends how long it took him to complain. Then the court would have to decide which version of events is believed on that point.
I suppose he could be arguing that you failed to report a leak which caused damage elsewhere. Difficult to say really and we are moving into the realms of second guessing what he is saying.
His notice was also completely invalid as well but that doesn't help because you have left.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
It isn't very visible really.
But you are not responsible for holes in the tiles unless he is going to argue that you have deliberately dug it out.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I took a shower just like people do everyday and water should not leak if the showerrom is in a good condition. So, he needed to refurbish a WHOLE showerroom was absolutely strange. is that right? I am not responsible for the cost of the refurbishing.Could you clarify a bit more about the tenancy?
The landlord told me that I needed to give him a month notice and I gave him one month notice then left but now he insists that I needed to give him a 2months notice.What is the responsibility of Oliver's? Are they supposed to help me with this matter?
They/landlord terminated my contract without telling me and caused this deposit problem.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The landlord was very nice until the moment I started mentioning about my leave for Japan and suddenly he started telling me numbers (money) blah blah..
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
As he didn't register my deposit to the DPS, it is obvious that he was planning to take my deposit, waiting for me to leave for Japan..Could you let me know a step what to do?Does he have a right to hold my money? He insists that is for the damage and that is the reason to hold money.Am I supposed to cover the damage cost caused while I was there?
Only a fact is that there was a leak when I was staying there and the showerroom was already old though the agent told me it is in a good condition. More importantly, the landlord manages his property by himself. He is a DIY landlord so he was fully aware of the showerroom's ageing.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Oliver's once mentioned that they don't manage the property but he gave this email. I have no idea what the landlord and the agency have been trying to do but it seems that Oliver's is on the landlord side. I sent him my evidence from Oliver's saying regarding my tenancy etc..
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Well, it is as I've said above really.
If there was damage that he can prove you caused then you are liable for that.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Even though the showerroom was already aged and the landlord was fully aware that it was going to happen? Before he talks about the damage he should sort out my deposit since he didnt register my deposit. Has he violated a law? or not. I am still not sure what action I can make..Please advice me regarding what to do with the agency?I would like to know what step to follow next.Should I solve with this problem with Olivers? or they have nothing to do with this.
Should I start preparing to sue the landlord?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
In relation to the reductions, whether the deposit was protected or not he does have a claim against you for damage. It is quite difficult to tell here and every case turns on it's facts. Overall, you seem to be saying there was no damage. If his complaint is that the bathroom looks old then that is not your problem. It is for him to decorate and maintain his property. If he is alleging some form of damage then he will need to produce evidence of it. If it wasn't there when you were there then it must have been done subsequently which is possible. It depends how long it took him to complain. Then the court would have to decide which version of events is believed on that point.
If the deposit wasn't protected then you can't complain to the scheme because they have no jurisdiction but you can sue at the small claims court.
If they will not agree then your only option is to sue. You will need an address in the UK to do that. You should be suing your contractual partner which is probably the landlord although you need to check your contract to see whether it is assigned to the agents. If so, you can sue them. Usually safer to sue the landlord.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So, even the landlord was fully aware of the ageing of the property and knew something was gonna happen, if a tenant didn't report and something happened, that would be a tenant's fault. Is that right?I understood that DPS has nothing to do with this matter since the landlord didn't register but what I would like to know is that if he actually violate any law or not. If he violated any law I can sue for not registering my deposit.He has to solve my deposit matter first before he claims for the damage. Is that correct?Is an estate agency supposed to help tenants with this kind of problem? Some said if they act like they don;t care, tenants should report to a Redness schemes.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Have you seen attached photos of text msg? What do you reckon? Agency sort of led this problem. didn't they?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Yes, I've seen the photographs and I've responded above.
Yes, though there is a duty on the tenant to report something that is causing damage. A landlord doesn't live there. He cannot pre-empt everything that may go wrong.
No, he can claim from the deposit and return the rest.
Estate agents can be unhelpful. Ultimately they are the landlord's agents rather than the tenant although quite often they are not all that helpful to landlords either.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Although, of course, the deposit should be in a scheme so it is all a bit of a hypothesis.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So, in short, there's no way I can 100% get back my deposit.
He has a right to hold my money by saying he needs it for the repair.
When I mentioned about the damage he convinced that a previous tenant should have reported or estate agent should have known the damage though.. Please see attached photos.Suppose I sue the landlord for not registering my deposit, will court consider the damage cost as well?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
No, that is not what I said.
I wouldn't sue immediately. Just send him a letter before action making clear that you know it wasn't registered with a scheme and will sue for three times the sum if not returned.
If he doesn't return then sue for that amount. He can counter claim for damage and a court will consider it.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have sent emails a couple of times saying to return my deposit but he doesn't care. He now even sends me a huge amount of bill charged by constructor.The beginning he mentioned that his insurance company will cover and then later not. Again, they will pay a part of the damage. A tenant downstairs not put down their claim blah blah and you should forget about your money blah blah..
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
You saw a text message. he clearly mentions that a previous tenant should have reported? That explains he knew about the damage before I moved in but covering a rotten corner with a huge rag. When I found out a hole, it was already a few months later so I could not report him for the damage either. He obviously trapped me.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Well, he may have done.
But there is a valid argument that a tenant should report damage. That doesn't forgive the landlord disrepair but if something is becoming worse a tenant should report it.
Because all houses have faults. Sometimes they need immediate attention and sometimes not.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Okay. He has a right to claim for the damage even though I was just taking a shower normally. He apparently lies that I pointed a showerhead at one corner to make a leak.. From a look, it was hard to report wether it was becoming worse or not as it is an internal leak but it is still my fault?So, to sum up, what could be a solution for this problem as long as you understood my situation?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Well, that isn't very likely to be accepted. If you had wanted to do that it would have made more sense to just apply water to the area.
You can only report a fault if it is obvious. Tenants are not expected to conduct investigations into the guts of the house.
I wouldn't sue immediately. Just send him a letter before action making clear that you know it wasn't registered with a scheme and will sue for three times the sum if not returned.
If he doesn't return then sue for that amount. He can counter claim for damage and a court will consider it.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much Jo. I will again write him a letter and if he keeps ignoring I will bring this to a court. I am more than happy to discuss further if the court decides that the leak was a part of my fault. I have told the landlord but he doesn't listen at all. He just says that my deposit belongs to him. First of all, if he repaired the showerroom and paid for it I wonder why he still has my deposit though.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It is a shame that there isn't a law which can force landlords to pay back deposit no matter what they say, if they failed to register in the first place.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
Well, he probably hasn;t done the work.
There is clearly potential to challenge him here.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much for your advice. It helps me so much emotionally. Unfortunately there are so many students like me who are not getting back their deposit. I hope one day there will be a law to protect students from a deposit fraud.Thanks again for your answer.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.
No problem and all the best.
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