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help with landlord and deposit please!!!!

(99 Posts)
absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 10:19:58

OK, I'll try not to make this too long but here goes...

Exdp and I moved into a house with one yo D's in April last year. (2012) it was a privately rented house joint owned by a friend of exdp and another man who he had meet through the friend on many occasions.

At the start both landlords were great. As landlord one was a close friend and colleuge of exdp he was very relaxed with tenancy agreement and deposits. He was helping us get on our feet after a disaster ( nothing of our doing) at the last place we lived.

Landlords came round to do an inspection once or twice. We told them the hearing was totally broken. Nothing ever done about it. Freezing cold house.

September time we have a house fire. The dog knocked the electric cooker so one hob was left on slightly. Only for ten mins or so. I am bathing D's, sm OK me billows under the door desperately try to get him out etc etc. Firemen turn up, say that the tiles used as a splash back were in fact floor tiles and illegal and had given off toxic fumes. So ds and I are carted to Hosp for toxic smoke I halation. Landlord comes round couple of days layer with a drill, and steel plate. Rips tiles off drills it in. No safety or accident reports, nothing mentioned about insurance or safety checks.

Anyway, exdp moved out new year time, ( mutual relationship breakdown kinda thing) and I stayed on in the house. I signed a new tendency agreement, one exactly the same as the first, for a six month period.

Found out that exdp hadn't played the deposit to landlord yet, but pro aptly did before my tenancy agreement started and told me the money was mine to have back.

Fine months on I gave my months notice as I could not afford the upkeep of the house on my own. This is all fine. Landlords come round and do an inspection.

To cut to the chase, we handed the property back over. I explained that it was not up to the standard I would have likes, but trying to do it all on my own with a toddler no transport or help was impossible.

Nothing major but the carpets needed a clean little bit more painting and cleaning. Seriously not a lot. I explained this band apologised saying I fully expected to have some of my deposit taken off me. Even helped them find quotes for the work.

Went to the house last night, landlords stroll in late and smirking and hand me a spreadsheet with a list of things they have bought to do up the property, also labour hours for themselves and loss of rent. They have charged me for 40 hours ( 2 men) working on it, skip runs, double price carpet cleaning than the quote we found, and hundreds of pounds worth of silly things like £7 gloves to clear waste...there were two bin liners I had it proffessionaly cleared.even down to things like cloths and 7 lots of rollers and paintbrushes and paint pads.....its a two bed semi. Not big. He's also charging me for loss of rent. It was handed over when he asked for it to be.

He's given me a bill for over 750£. My deposit was only 575. He wants me to pay the rest.

It says nothing about this in the contract. We didn't even have a condition report. We had no paperwork on anything. Like safety checks etc, just a general copy and paste tendency agreement. He left us without heating for over a year with a baby, his carelessness could have killed us, and I didn't kick up a fuss because he was exdps friend. Can he do this???

I've asked for a copy of his tenemcy agreement, energy effiency ratings, health and safety checks, and all other paperwork ( we had one out of date fire blanket in the house and no extinguisher) but he won't get back to me. What can I do? I desperately need some of that money to live on.

Thank you so much if you have got this far. Any help would be so greatley appreeciated

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 10:21:04

* heating and smoke. Damn autocorrect

LIZS Mon 22-Jul-13 10:31:46

Is the deposit in a registered scheme, you can dispute deductions if so and go to small claims if not . tbh I'm surprised you haven't previously contacted the council private landlords department for advice and reported breech of Health and Safety regulations given the accident. You could do so now or perhaps CAB and Shelter. Do you have photos and correspondence of your reports of lack of heating and condition of house.

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 10:37:32

The deposit wasn't registered in any scheme. Tbh, I didn't really think too much at the time of the accident. I was just glad that I got ds out in time. Stupidly I assumed that he would have gone down the correct route with health and safety especially being a friend to exdp. There's a cab down the road, I'll pop in and have a chat with them I think. I don't want to make a huge fuss, but the way he's gone about all this has actually quite upset me. Everything was done by just talking. This is where I was stupid. The landlords came rebound for inspections, and me and exdp told them the heater was broken, they said they'd look into it. This happened twice. Then when landlords came for my inspection on being given months notice, they denied all knowledge. Again given the situation with exdp we trusted them as this was an interim thing to get on our feet. Thank you for the advice

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 10:38:22

Round not rebound :-/

FoofFighter Mon 22-Jul-13 10:41:08

They aren't acting legally if the deposit wasn't in a scheme, you could in fact sue them for 3x the amount of the deposit, look into that.

Did you have a signed inventory? have you got a proper contract?

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 10:57:12

Oh wow! Thank you! No signed inventory. There is a proper contract but its just a general one. just signed by landlords and myself.

WeAreEternal Mon 22-Jul-13 11:22:53

Your landlord has broken the law if he did not protect you deposit, and as a result you can take him to court and claim back 3x the deposit amount.

Citizens advice say:

What if my landlord does not protect my deposit

If your landlord or an agent acting for your landlord does not protect your deposit using a tenancy deposit protection scheme, or does not provide you with the required information about the scheme and your deposit, you could take them to court. However, before taking court action you should write to your landlord first to give them the chance to protect the deposit and/or to provide the information.
If the court finds that your landlord did not protect your deposit within 30 days of receiving it, then it must order your landlord to pay you a sum of money as a fine. The court can decide how much of a fine has to be paid. It will be between one and three times the amount of your deposit.
The landlord should still be fined for not protecting your deposit within the 30 day time limit even if the deposit has been protected by the time of the court hearing. However, in these circumstances, the court may order a lower fine.
If your deposit is not protected by the time of the court hearing, your landlord will be fined and the court can either order your landlord to pay you back the deposit, or to pay it into the custodial scheme.
If your tenancy has ended by the time of the court hearing, the court can order your landlord to pay you back some or all of your deposit. The court will also decide how much of a fine has to be paid.
There is a special procedure which private landlords often use to evict tenants by giving two months' notice (called a section 21 notice) and without having to give reasons. Your landlord is generally not allowed to use this procedure if they don't protect your deposit using a tenancy deposit protection scheme, or do not give you the required information about the scheme and your deposit.
If your landlord hasn't protected your deposit in a scheme within the 30 day time limit, they can only give you a section 21 notice if:
If your landlord hasn't provided the required information about the scheme and deposit, but they have protected your deposit within the 30 day time limit, they can give you a section 21 notice, but only after:
they return the deposit to you in full or with deductions agreed by you, or
you make a tenancy deposit claim and the court has decided the outcome, or the action has been withdrawn or settled.

Your first thing to do is to send your landlord a 'letter before action'

Basically you have to tell the landlord that he has two weeks to return your money or you will take him to court for three times the amount.

In your letter you should mention,
That under Chapter 4 of the Housing Act 2004, the deposit should have been placed in one of the registerd Tennancy Deposit Schemes, with details of the scheme sent to you within 14 days of the deposit being fully paid.
Point out that the penalties of non-compliance are the full return of the deposit without deductions + x3 the deposit amount, and that according to the law there is no defence for not protecting a deposit.
Tell him that he has two weeks to return your money or you will be filing a claim with the County Court, at which point he will also become responsible for the court fees.

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 12:08:13

We are...that is absoloutley amazing. Thank you form taking the time to add all of this! One question the deposit was not paid until almost a year into the tenancy,, will this affect it all? I had no idea exdp had not paid the deposit, however landlords were OK with this, and didn't nag or have it as a stipulation on moving into the property.

WeAreEternal Mon 22-Jul-13 12:53:34

It doesn't matter when the deposit was paid the landlord should have paid it into a scheme within 14 days of receiving it, as he didn't he broke the law.

[ This]] is the N208 county court claim form.
This is the for which you would need to fill in in order to file a claim against your LL.

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 13:01:29

That's such a big help thank you. I text the landlord last night asking for copies of any paperwork he had etc. No reply. I then found out that he has spoken to exdp saying that he may be willing to let the extra charges go, and threatening with legal action against me if this is not good enough. I text him again stating that I would appreciate it if he discussed the terms of my deposit and agreement wi h me before anyone else, and that maybe we could come to an agreement if he was willing to drop the extra charges, but that I would not hesitate to take it further if I don't have any contact.

I have heard nothing from him. Its made me so angry that he will discuss it with someone not involved anymore, when he saw me leave in tears struggling to fathom how I will feed my child. Not even a word from him.

I will fill this form out and get a solicitor appointment. Thank you for the help.

WeAreEternal Mon 22-Jul-13 13:09:15

Sorry clickable link

WeAreEternal Mon 22-Jul-13 13:12:02

You don't need a solicitor for county court claims (they can't represent you anyway)
It's a very simple process to do for yourself.

Are you on good terms with your EXP?
If the LL is willing to work with him then maybe you could get him on side to explain the severity of the situation to him.

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 13:42:14

Yes on good terms with exdp. Had a talk to him about it last night when he bought ds home. He didn't see a big problem with the fact that landlord had spoken to him before me etc. Also advised me just to walk away as landlord is offering to drop extra charges.

Have just had a text off the landlord saying he wants to know what I want to do about it. Is walk away or take it further.

I have replied with a very long message saying that I really don't want this to get nasty, and appreciate the fact that he was so understanding in waiting so long for the deposit. However I feel I have been treated very unfairly. Pointed out that without entering into the deposit scheme within 14 days and notifying me of it, has broken the law. Also said that I would like him to review the charges he has given me and look at the private landlord guidelines on this that are readily available online. Notified him that he is not allowed to charge me for tools or laboir if he is carrying out the repairs himself. Just materials, paint carpet cleaner hire etc. Also, he has put on the invoice that he has spent over 40 hours working on the property in the last 2 weeks. I know he works about a 70 + hour week at work and don't think he has declared the extra work to tax man etc.

I again stated I'd rather we sort this out between us, but after pointing these things out would appreciate him reviewing his charges.

I was polite and to the point throughout but scared I've just done the wrong thing!!

WeAreEternal Mon 22-Jul-13 14:16:21

When you say walk away do you mean that he expects you to leave and let him keep the entire deposit, but as a gesture he is going to forget about the £125 that he claims the repairs cost?

Honestly if I were in your position I wouldn't be agreeing to any charges at all.
Your landlord
His right to deduct any charges from your deposit when he broke the law by failing to secure it in a scheme.
Legally he can not take any money from the deposit, even if his charges are legitimate.

If you go to the county court it wouldn't matter if you had cause thousands if pounds of damage he would not have any argument for deductions and would still be forced to pay you back the full deposit, plus the fine, which is usually 3 times the deposit.

If he then wanted to make you pay for any damages he will have to file a separate claim, but as he never did an inventory it's unlikely he will get very far.

He either has no idea how serious not putting the bond in a scheme is, or he is so cocky that he think he can scare you into letting it go.

Don't back down, the law is on your side, he does not deserve a penny.

I would also be reporting him to the council, as it doesn't sound as though he has any of the proper checks done. Has he even bothered to have an annual gas safety check done? The fine for not doing that is a big one.

LIZS Mon 22-Jul-13 14:20:56

I don't think I'd bother negotiating any further , he clearly isn't going to be reasonable. Sounds like he has cut all sorts of corners. Make an appointment and take advice from CAB, they will help you with the paperwork.

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 14:40:47

He charged me an extra 170 on top of the deposit. Yes he said to exp that I can walk away and he will not chase me for extra charges but he will keep entire deposit.

There's no inventory, but he apparently does have photos of the property before we moved in. However I have never seen these so would that even be legal?

I know that he's cut corners as we have never seen any safety certificates. ( he says all relevant checks etc done and has proof) therres no gas in the property but never had a safety check done after the fire. I have hospital records for me and ds after toxic smoke inhalation. Also, as I was getting the property ready to be handed back, my belongings still in there, both landlords let themselves in without permission or even letting me know. They also did viewings in this manner.

I know that things will be on my side, but I don't know how to go about doing all this. Is so ,much stress and I just wish he would be slightly reasonable. Its not like he has no ,money. He has a nice car, a boat and still lives with his mum and dad rent free at almost 30. I have heard him say he is only there as he has to do nothing for himself.

I know this has nothing to do with it, just trying to convince myself that he's not a fair or very nice person so I won't feel too guilty for going down the court route ( that and the 15 year old school girl girlfriend should do it!!!) Grrrr.

Just seen the comment that cab do it all for you. Off I go! Thanks so much guys x

K8Middleton Mon 22-Jul-13 15:10:32

Have you contacted Shelter? They are very good with this sort of thing and im(indirect)e they are better than CAB with private rental issues.

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 15:21:28

Thank you, will give them a call now. Cab said they had no one free to talk to me anyway

WeAreEternal Mon 22-Jul-13 17:11:49

Photos need to be part of an inventory that you sign with your tenancy agreement. Otherwise they could be from years ago.

You don't need to feel bad about taking him to court, he had broken the law and by cutting corners he risked the lives of you and your DC.

Hopefully by you taking him to court it will stop him treating anyone else the way that he has treated you.

ChunkyPickle Mon 22-Jul-13 17:22:41

You'd have had to sign the inventory/photos to say that you agree that that was the state.

Small claims, even taking it up to county court level is a walk in the park - you just have to fill in one paragraph to say what's happened - it's designed so that people can get small (relatively) amounts of money claimed without having to go through solicitors (which would cost more than the amounts involved). Because of that it's simple, and quick. Don't worry about the court thing at all

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 18:03:56

Thanks both of you. He's since text threataning me with legal action. Saying he's ready for anything I can throw at him. That I'm the one who's ripped him off etc.

I've spoken to shelter, and they told me what to put in an email to him, which I sent. He replied saying that he won't waste his time on me or answer my questions. Sooooo I think I just need to go for it now. The scare tactics obviously didn't work. sad

WeAreEternal Mon 22-Jul-13 19:45:39

I think it's clear that you have no choice but to take him to court.

The first thing you have to do is send him a letter of intent, basically stating the things above that I mentioned.

If he does not respond withing 14 days to return your money you should file the claim with the county court, on the 14th day if possible.

If you need a hand with the letter or filling out the claim form I am more than happy to help.

absentmindeddooooodles Mon 22-Jul-13 19:54:58

Yeah I think that's the next course of action. And thank you for the kind offer. I'll get the ball rolling and if I get stuck will come back begging. Haha., could really do without this bloody hassle though! Grrr.

schoolgovernor Mon 22-Jul-13 21:31:35

Can I suggest that you stop communicating by text and deal with this more formally? You've got all the help you need here by the look of things. Good luck!

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