Deposit Protection Scheme- Help getting deposit back please!

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  • Deposit Protection Scheme- Help getting deposit back please!
  • DanW
    Member

    Hi all,

    I moved out of a purpose built flat 2 months ago, which I stayed at for 2.5 years, and have been chasing the landlord ever since to respond to my Deposit Protection Scheme claim for the deposit back. I did not have any contact with the landlord as he does not reply to emails/ phone calls/ letters until today when I received an email from the landlord claiming the move in for the new tenant has been as “nightmare” and there are several issues he will deduct for from the deposit.

    The landlord claims:
    1) I, the tenant, switched off the boiler causing the boiler to shutdown from which it would not restart leaving the flat without warm water for 5 days. Apparently this required a new immersion heater, pump and electrical board at a cost of £300
    2) 1 out of 3 storage heaters did not work so had to be replaced at a cost of £100
    3) The new tenants felt the flat was “dusty” and the fridge was dirty. There were also apparently dirty marks across the sofas requiring cleaning. The total for this is £180.
    4) Living room blinds have a red mark on and curtains were dirty at the bottom. £50 for the blinds and £50 for the curtains.
    5) As a gesture of good will he only wants £180 (cleaning) + £50 (new blinds) + £50 (new curtains)

    DanW
    Member

    This came as quite a shock to me and my responses to the above claims would be:

    1) The main boiler did not work prior to tenancy. Trying to use the main boiler tripped the fuse causing loss of electricity to the flat. This was also raised with the landlord upon him visiting at the start of the tenancy and I was told that the previous tenants managed to survive so I would too. I was also told to try and contact the previous tenants to work out how to live with the boiler. In the end I just used the smaller, quick heating immersion heater for showers/ washing up/ etc. There is also good evidence of several old pumps, electrical boards and scorch marks around the main boiler electrical switch where it looks like it has caught on fire at some stage! This is how everything was when I moved in.

    2) Similar story for the heaters. Heaters did not work at start of tenancy. This was raised with the landlord upon the same visit at the start of the tenancy and I was told again that the previous tenants managed to survive so I would too. Heating from then on was provided by me by electric heaters (i.e. I as the tenant did my best to maintain heat in the flat despite the landlord refusing to fix the storage heaters).

    3) I cleaned thoroughly when leaving and have photos to back this up. The flat was unoccupied to 6 weeks after my tenancy ended so may explain any dust but it seems like an odd complaint. The sofas were marked when I moved in and I just accepted this as the condition of a 10-15 year old flat. Unfortunately I don’t think I have photos of the settee from when I moved in.

    4) The blinds were marked when I moved in but again I don’t think I took photos of this. The marks are minor so I did not take issue with it. The curtains did collect about 5cm of mould to the inner lining (facing the window) due perhaps in part to wear and tear and perhaps in part due to the inadequate heating situation. This is the only claim I accept occurred during my tenancy.

    5) Gesture of good will… hmmmm… :/

    DanW
    Member

    Basically I am not happy with any of these claims on my deposit. I can back up some of my side of the story but as noted above do not have comprehensive photos prior to moving in. I am worried about any dispute being a bit he said she said.

    My feeling is that the new tenants face the same challenges and condition of the property as I did with my arrival. I was perhaps naïve to accept the condition of the flat as that of a 10-15 year old flat with multiple previous occupants. It would also appear that the new tenants were more forceful in ensuring the concerns were addressed by withholding the first month rent and this has caused the landlord a considerable loss. The landlord is now looking to recover some of these costs at my expense which is deeply unfair an inappropriate on my part.

    Do I:
    a) Reply to the lanlord and ask him to be a bit more reasonable and see if we can work it out?
    b) Put a claim in straight away to the DPS away all the explanation and evidence I can find?
    c) Wee in his shoes? 😀 (This always used to be the satndard STW response)

    b) seems like the best option but any help or advice you may be able to offer for situations like this would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you!

    PS I split all of this up to look a little less overwhelming!

    Premier Icon jambalaya
    Subscriber

    One of the main elements of the Deposit scheme is he cannot just keep the money which sadly is what used to happen a lot in the past.

    Sadly you are learning by experience, get everything checked before with the landlord present and likewise when you move out. Photos and put things in writing.

    You should write to him making the points above and insisting you get back the whole deposit.

    Good luck

    FYI this works both ways, my Mrs did the handover when tennents moved out of a property we’d rented for a while and missed a few £100 worth of stuff. We also got stung for window cleaning once when we’d rented.

    toys19
    Member

    I’m a landlord, I think the DPS will fall on your side for most of this. Contact them straight away. You should also see CAB and get them to check he has complied strictly with the DPS scheme rules as he may not have and will then find it V hard to keep any money. You have the upper hand.

    The DPS was set up to protect you, I think the landlord is going to get a nasty shock when you finally realise your rights and get the DPS to help you.It saddens me that your tone is that of being intimidated, it is a real shame that tenants do not realise their rights and remedies.

    titusrider
    Member

    Sounds like a pretty crap situation tbh. Not much to add except thanks for reminding me to document all this properly when I move into a rental in a few weeks! So thanks for sharing!

    DanW
    Member

    Where do I stand though with nothing in writing and no inventory taken? I only have my photos and verbal conversations with the landlord either in person or on the phone. Similarly the landlord can not provide evidence that the these problems did not exist before my tenancy since they did exist!

    What is the likely outcome with DPS if both the landlord and I only have our word to a large extent?

    I am reluctant to contact the landlord before the DPS as this gives him some ammunition if you like to work with if it comes to a dispute- better he is unprepared???

    toys19
    Member

    No inventory means that the landlord cannot prove the condition the property was in before you moved in. V difficult for him to make any claim if he has no signed inventory or condition report. You have him on the back foot, though you may not realise it.

    Stuey01
    Member

    Wow, your landlord sounds like a right con artist. That is a disgrace.
    What an absolute pain in the jacksie.
    The DPS is there for your protection so hopefully this will get sorted out in your favour.
    Did you have an inventory upon taking occupation and again on leaving?
    Do you have any written communications between you and the landlord regarding the issues you faced when you moved in? Email from you to him complaining about the broken heater for example?

    Edit: you’ve answered my questions whilst I was typing them.
    As toys19 said, no inventory means he has no proof that you are responsible for any of it.

    Best of luck.

    Might be worth paying for an independent inventory service in the future – I’ve had to use these before and whilst I resented the cost at the time, hearing a tale of woe like yours makes the £100 or so seem worth it for peace of mind.

    DanW
    Member

    Unfortunately I did not keep the emails as it was nearly 3 years ago. Foolish now in hindsight. Most communications were verbal (phone mostly and one meeting in person at the start).

    No inventory from either of us.

    How long and painful is a DPS dispute?

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    no inventory taken?

    Then he can’t prove anything => you win.

    Stuey01
    Member

    The “gesture of good will” he has made is (in my opinion) because he knows he hasn’t got a leg to stand on and he is hoping that by offering you a “reduced” settlement that you’ll just agree without contesting it.
    I’ll bet he’s played this game before with your predecessors too.

    toys19
    Member

    He is already in breach of DPs as he should send deposit back in 14 days. google DPS to discover how much of an advantage you have in this, contact DPS in the AM and laugh about how little pain there is in this for you.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    Onus is on him to prove damage. He’s been lazy by not preparing an inventory.

    No inventory, no proof of condition at start of tenancy, you shouldn’t have an issue getting your money back.

    Send him a quick email saying you’ll be applying for a full return of deposit, “trust that’s acceptable” and that you’ll leave it to DPS to arbitrate if there are any disagreements.

    Put in your claim for the full amount, he’ll have to justify to them why he wants deductions. Without an inventory, the DPS will take a dim view of any deductions due to condition.

    If you’re feeling bad about the blinds/curtains, just take it as a charge to him for the inconvenience of being left without properly working heating for 3 years. More than fair, I’d say.

    Hope this comes across as reasonable to the ethical landlords on here?

    Edit: largely done already. I’m a slow typist!

    toys19
    Member

    Ned, too reasonable. I say take no shit or prisoners, landlord is a **** and makes us all look bad.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    Oh, in answer to your original question:

    d) put in a claim for the full amount with no explanation – I don’t actually think you get the opportunity at this stage. You pretty much log in and tick the “full amount” box. He’s the one that needs to state his case, and the sooner you put in your claim, the sooner the clock starts ticking for him to get his response in. If he times out at any stage, you get what you ask for.

    As Toys said, you’ll appreciate when you et started how much of this is in your favour. The DPS was set up for precisely this purpose: to stop unethical landlords retaining deposits on spurious grounds. Could almost be case study on their website!

    DanW
    Member

    Call to DPS tomorrow it is then 😀

    poolman
    Member

    I am a Landlord too & agree with the above comments.

    Your LL is a muppet & without a mutually agreed & signed for inventory he has no chance of successfully claiming any deductions.

    Just write to him & say it was all fair wear & tear, the heaters are his responsibility anyway. Giv
    e him 10 days to refund in full or you take him to court.

    Good luck

    andyl
    Member

    no read all the replies but doesn’t the Landlord have 1 month to make the deductions or they have to give it all back?

    LL here too .
    Did the DPS contact you to verify the amount of deposit and term?
    There is a box on the form for contact details of tenant .
    If not the chances are the deposit is in the LL back pocket . There is a 4 figure fine for not lodging tenants deposits in the scheme (IIRC)

    Your LL sounds like a tossr and the property really should not have been let in this condition . I am going to guess you didnt have a working smoke alarm , CO alarm, fire blanket , PAT testing certs , Short term assured tennancy doc + inventory?

    Local council really should be informed , maybe once you have your full deposit back .

    Premier Icon psling
    Subscriber

    As others have said, the DPS tend to side with the tenant in disputes. You should have a reference to use on the DPS website. They have a clear procedure to follow to get a deposit back including deadlines for responses from the landlord. After 2 months this should be well under way by now so if you haven’t already done so, get on the website now and get it moving! They will expect a landlord to support any claims against the deposit with documentary evidence including bills, receipts for work done and an inventory. You are in a better position than you think so stop worrying and get things rolling!

    With a lack of documentation I think the DPS err on the side of the tenant (in my one experience of dealing with them).

    Mugboo
    Member

    As a landlord of a couple of terraces I have yet to use the Dps due to having my sister on one and a friend in the other (no deposits) but I would expect it to be on your side. I would also expect it to take a long time like all process’s. Might be best to try and forget about it and it’ll be a bonus when you finally get it.

    It’s scum like this that give everybody a bad name.

    My first tenant had removed £350.00 worth of Ikea Pax wardrobe. Kicked out a spindle on the stairs, left stains all over the bedroom (looked like coffee had been thrown in temper), it looked like the cup had hit the wall then floor. They had also kindly blobbed fresh white gloss over all the chips in the 5yr old gloss work.

    Oh, and they had put a clothes line in the bathroom but blocked up the fans vent so that no air could get out. Mould…

    The £300 deposit (pre Dps) didn’t go far.

    They weren’t bad people just stupid.

    At one point as the recession hit they ended up two months behind. We had a long talk and arranged an overpayment and eventually they got back on track. If everbody acted fairly we wouldn’t need the Dps.

    joemarshall
    Member

    He is claiming that you are liable for things like heaters not working in order to scare you.

    He then says that if you don’t create any hassle, he won’t charge you for those expensive things, he’ll just charge you for a bunch of stuff that you also don’t owe.

    The idea being that you are worried that if you create any hassle you might end up having to pay the whole lot.

    Claim for the DPS right away, for the full amount. Then it’s up to him to argue anything else.

    Guessing it is only electric what with the heating situation, but just in case, did it have any gas appliances, and if so, did you get a gas safety certificate every year you lived there? If not, you can tell HSE and make his life a pain – worth doing both because it would be satisfying (up to £6000 fine!), but also because you’d be making life safer for any future tenants of his.
    http://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/domestic/faqtenant.htm

    It is in everyone’s interest except for dodgy landlords, that everyone promptly fights any attempt to unfairly make money out of deposits. That way dodgy landlords lose money, and it makes it less worth being a bad landlord and more worth being a good landlord.

    Joe

    ps. can’t believe you stayed somewhere where the heating didn’t work for 2.5 years! You should have found somewhere new and done a runner to the new place no matter what your contract with him was. No way anyone could claim that completely non working heating would be fulfilling their side of the contract.

    Premier Icon cb
    Subscriber

    I agree that this landlord is an idiot, but without being too rude, you seem the type of tenant that blokes like this thrive on! I’m sure that you will get the vast majority of your money back but you need to take a more responsible attitude – I’d have walked if I was told to “live with” anything, let alone electrical issues. Has he got a safety certificate for the flat?

    mbydmt
    Member

    A lot of landlords will take the mick and try and get a full deposit. I moved out of a house in June where the landlord wanted £6k plus deposit for damages, he made up numerous points and was trying his luck. In the end we settled for a split of the £250 deposit per person and he jumped at the chance of getting that. We could have had the full £250 but not worth it and the final settlement was relatively fair and easy. There are a lot of dishonest landlord’s out there. If you can form a logical argument and mention court, it seems they back down, as they know they’re trying it on.

    Also once both sides submitted dps claim, it took 3 working days for money to clear into account.

    DanW
    Member

    cb and Mick- good point about being an idiot with living without heating for 2.5 years.

    It is the first place I have lived in by myself and did not know I had any options after being told to live with the fact there was no heating. I got a plumber to have a look and got a quote but the landlord has been impossible to contact until a month ago (2 months after me leaving) when he provided a list of deduction from the deposit. I did write, email and phone about the issues plus the letting agent also attempted to contact him. I could have walked out but did not know what the mechanism of doing this correctly was and pretty much only ever slept there so made do with several mains powered electric heaters rather than risk additional charges/ fines/ whatever. With hindsight that is completely stupid but I am now learning a harsh lesson in how renting a place works (or not as the case may be!)

    Thanks again!

    dooosuk
    Member

    How did you get on with the DPS?

    DanW
    Member

    The landlord has rejected all of my claims for the full deposit amount through the DPS, rejected my request to use the Alternative Dispute Resolution service through the DPS, so my final attempt to get this resolved through the DPS is the single claim process which is in progress awaiting the landlord’s response. I recently got a new email which says he has photos of everything which he is happy to submit to whomever it may concern yet he has already neglected many opportunities to do so! We shall see…

    Sounds like he hasn’t got a leg to stand on but he’s just trying to make things as difficult as possible for you.

    If he has charged for cleaning, he will have to provide proof of the services he engaged and the cost of them, as well as photos of what needed cleaning. Lack of provision of this evidence meant that a former landlord of mine couldn’t claim the £300 she said she wanted to charge for cleaning services she supposedly had to get in, but I had photos to prove I left the place clean – in fact in better condition than I found it.

    If he didn’t provide an inventory, then I don’t think he will be able to make any claim as there is no proof that anything was your fault, neither of you signed off on the condition of the flat upon start of tenancy.

    You say there was a letting agent involved, I wonder why on earth they didn’t insist on things being done properly, normally they take care of inventories etc….have you complained to them?

    DanW
    Member

    No inventories at the start or end and even handing the keys back was a difficult task! The landlord was uncontactable (word?) and the Lettings Agent said it was the landlord’s responsibility as he manages the property. No-one wanted the keys so I just left them in the agents and got a receipt. The landlord is required by the lettings agent to conduct inventories in the contract so maybe this is how they pass all the responsibility on to the landlord.

    DanW
    Member

    Ok, so this is now going down the Alternative Dispute Resolution route which is what I have always wanted.

    Any tips for the ADR?

    Rental agreement
    Detailed pics of condition flat left in clearly labelled
    All correspondance with landlord
    Clear summary of my response to the landlord’s claims for part of my deposit (relating directly to the pictures above)

    What else can I do to make it as easy as possible for the ADR to make a fair decision (even if it were to not be in my favour!)

    Many thanks again!!!

    patriotpro
    Member

    Bit late the party but I thought the whole point of the DPS was the deposit was held by a 3rd-party…

    IF this is true how has he managed to get hold of it without both parties (you and he) in the first place to give you back?

    DanW
    Member

    patriotpro- the DPS do hold the deposit but the landlord can pretty easily ensure that the tenant never sees their deposit by taking the system round in circles. The landlord gains nothing but the tenant effectively loses the deposit. Only small claim court or similar can actually enforce return of the deposit (even when held by the DPS).

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