Monday, May 19, 2008

Stand your ground on damage deposit claims

In my last post I talked about the case of my poor clients, evicted by their landlords’ mortgagee. In fact the situation was worse that I let on, as not only were they evicted, they also didn’t get their deposit back!

My advice to them was (inter alia) to threaten the agents with an application under the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme regulations for the return of the deposit and three times the deposit sum ‘fine’ provided for under the regs. The deposit after all had been paid to the agents. In my view the fact that they had passed it on to the landlord (which turned out to be a dodgy company - almost certainly without assets) did not excuse them from their responsibility to protect the deposit. Otherwise this would be driving the proverbial coach and horses through the regulations. My letting agent client had told me that they would never pass a deposit on to a landlord unless they were 100% certain that it was going to be protected.

Initially the agents tried the brush off – “nothing to do with us, we just found the tenants, you need to claim the deposit from the landlord”. My client then spoke to the Deposit Protection Service, who told him that the agents were right, and that they could not claim the deposit from them.

Thankfully, although initially knocked back by this, my client decided to send a stiff letter to the agents, threatening court proceedings, and claiming the deposit, the 3 x fine, all his expenses (including an item I had privately told him was not really recoverable), and substantial compensation. The agents consulted their solicitors and their insurers, and, to my clients surprise and delight, agreed to everything except the compensation!

So a happy ending and champagne all round! But what a good thing my client took no notice of the DPS and decided to send the letter anyway. Otherwise they would now be several thousand pounds poorer.

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1 comment:

Nearly Legal said...

Lucky tenants. I can only presume that a) the agents were badly advised or b) that the agent's contract with the landlord meant it was their job to put the deposit in the scheme (and so would have ended up as Part 20 defendant's anyway) or c) both.