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Getting deposit back from letting agents

(56 Posts)
Tenantissues2016 Sat 12-Nov-16 13:58:11

What's the best way to go about this?

We moved out of a property on Friday 28th October. The property was up for sale, and they had an open house viewing on Saturday 29th. Our checking out inventory was then done the following Thursday.

The inventory lists a few things wrong that we are disputing, the main thing being cleaning issues. We spent the whole day Friday cleaning the property, and we did a thorough job.

The inventory says that the hallway needs vacuuming due to light debris, the wooden flooring and skirting boards in the living room have might debris and dust, the kitchen work tops have light debris and the windows are dirty (they were when we moved in but windows weren't mentioned on that inventory)

As they had the open house viewing and possible private appointments inbetween, I've suggested the debris on the floorings must be caused by several people going into the property with shoes on etc, as the debris certainly wasn't there when we left. I've no idea how the worktops and windows are suddenly dirty (the photos they've given do not show this).

They said on Monday they would be speaking to the LL about how much he wants from our deposit. We've still not heard anything, and it's been 2 weeks now. So would it be ok if I started the claims process through the TDS website myself?

BishopBrennansArse Sat 12-Nov-16 13:59:50

I would.

ThomasHardyPerennial Sat 12-Nov-16 14:32:22

Yes definitely do it!

Mirandawest Sat 12-Nov-16 14:44:25

You should have been given details of what they want to deduct from deposit by 10 working days so you should have been given this already. Keep at them, assume they will try and take lots and continue to refute. Do you have any pictures from when you moved out?

My deposit was £925 and they wanted to take £900. They ended up taking £160 (which was justified).

Tenantissues2016 Sat 12-Nov-16 15:32:12

I do have photos of when we moved out which I emailed to them. It was then that they said my response was "very detailed" and they therefore needed to discuss it with the landlord. They haven't given us any clues about how much they are wanting to take from our deposit, so that's what's worrying me! As I'm worried they'll want the whole amount.

Tenantissues2016 Sat 12-Nov-16 16:27:26

I've filled out the form, but it says they won't get involved unless the tenants and agents have already tried to negotiate between themselves, which we haven't done, as they won't even tell us the amount the intend of keeping yet.

specialsubject Sat 12-Nov-16 20:03:23

Checkout doesn't count unless done before anyone else accesses property, for the obvious reason that you identify.

They will get zero.

Tenantissues2016 Sat 12-Nov-16 21:45:25

Ohh really? Is there any website that links to that so I can quote it to then?

I did think it was odd it was done 6 days later, so I got them to confirm in email thst the date they stated the check out was correct, so that they couldn't turn round later and once I said we'll debris could be due to the open house viewing, that the date was a mistake. I've also screen shot the advert advertising the open house to get and "prove" it happened, as well as the fact me and dh overheard (before we had even left the letting agents), the letting agent handing the keys over to a woman in sales saying "there you go, you have these for tomorrow".

specialsubject Sun 13-Nov-16 18:28:53

don't know of a website but it is basic common sense. As an evil bastard LL, we got reminded that we should not go into the property after the tenant left until either a checkout clerk had been or we had an independent witness. Otherwise there is no proof that it wasn't us that did any damage.

remember agents are totally unregulated and often very incompetent.

start your dispute and don't worry.

rallytog1 Sun 13-Nov-16 20:28:08

As a former landlord, I agree. Dispute any deductions. Be prepared for it to go to arbitration, where you will win in a heartbeat.

Tenantissues2016 Sun 13-Nov-16 21:57:19

Great, thank you both. We've had a bit of a nightmare with our agents to be honest, so I'm anticipating a fight, unfortunately. We desperately need the money back, but if they offer us a certain amount back, I'm guessing it's worth me taking the risk and letting it go all the way with TDS?

Thanks for your help, it's really appreciated. Re it being unregulated, I live in Wales so I'm hoping things will improve in the future!!

TurquoiseDress Sun 13-Nov-16 22:27:48

I would start the TDS claim now.

In my opinion, they've invalidated the whole checkout process by not doing it straight after/before conducting viewings.

We moved out of a property last year and it took ages for the agent to get back to us with final amounts.

When they did, there were so many (unreasonable, I felt) deductions it was ridiculous. They are a well know London agent- we are still with them, against our better judgement.

By the time I got on the case for the TDS it was too late as it was 3 months since we moved out.

It was all a bit protracted as the agent was being a dickhead and eventually "left the post".

The new agent who started just gave us all our deposit back minus some damage cost (which was reasonable). No fuss or debate.

Needmoresleep Mon 14-Nov-16 11:45:44

Another landlord here.

TDS will start off assuming the deposit belongs to the tenant. It is for the Landlord to prove deductions are justified. They have screwed up on the inventory, so just prove clear and concise arguments that will undermine any evidence they provide.

I speak from recent, bitter, experience. A tenant did a flit after a month. No notice, nothing, just an email on a Sunday night to say he had gone. I suspect he had failed his probation so went back to the European country he had been living in previously.

The contract was pretty clear about notice periods, tenancy terms etc, but he contested. It took months but he eventually got away with only paying half a months rent in lieu of notice, £50 for my time and half the cleaning bill. (Despite lots of candle wax on the carpet!) The agent had warned me in advance that it might happen this way. I will be much more careful in future about taking tenants on probation. Bad news for more marginal renters.

YelloDraw Mon 14-Nov-16 13:25:00

As a former landlord, I agree. Dispute any deductions. Be prepared for it to go to arbitration, where you will win in a heartbeat.

+1

TDS is the best thing to happen to tenants in a long time. And I say that as a LL not just a tenant.

hey have screwed up on the inventory, so just prove clear and concise arguments that will undermine any evidence they provide.

Yup, they have fucked this up. They have no way pof proving it was you at all now.

I speak from recent, bitter, experience
Aw that's rough Needmoresleep, although could have happened with someone just being fired/let go < 2 years work anyway not jsut probation periods.

Needmoresleep Mon 14-Nov-16 15:35:30

Thanks Yello.

The irritating thing is that I am a good landlord who is always willing to talk to tenants who have problems. Things happen in people's lives. Couples split up, mothers get ill, people's jobs get transferred. Not always co-inciding with rental notice periods. My philosophy has always been that if someone, for good reason, does not want to be in a property of mine, I will work to find a constructive solution that suits us both. And if they are struggling to pay, better to manage an amicable exit than have them default.

This guy was a prat, and weirdly helpless. He had apparently been married four times and was coming back to the UK because he had just split from his fourth wife. This was the first time in over 20 years that I had a deposit dispute. I had absolutely fulfilled my side of the contract, and provided him with a nice place to live, proper prof clean, proper check in inventory etc. Yet the well-known Central London Agency, who gave me plenty of guidance on how to put together my claim, were gloomy from the start. Too many arbitrations have recently gone against them.

I could not have had a stronger case, and though the process took six months, I was expected to put together my stuff within a few days. The learning is that a LL cannot rely on a deposit and so needs to be very very cautious about prospective tenants. (And also keep an eye on agents. Some are very poor and do not understand the process.)

YelloDraw Mon 14-Nov-16 16:32:33

The learning is that a LL cannot rely on a deposit and so needs to be very very cautious about prospective tenants.

Yeah it is just so hard to tell who is going to be a nightmare and who isn't! And like you say, it just stops people taking a chance on the more 'risky' demographic.

Needmoresleep Tue 15-Nov-16 10:41:32

Yello, perhaps there is a need for a responsible landlord thread, though I can imagine the abuse. I have been doing this for years, but it seems to have got much harder recently. One agent suggests that tenant and landlord TV programmes mean people are better informed, not a bad thing on one level, but not great if people start to play the system. There also seems to have been a great leap in expectation and entitlement.

The deposit system is now incredibly bureaucratic, which does not help either landlord or tenant. The tenant mentioned above left in April. I was asked to provide my evidence in August. The adjudication only came through last week, and that was only after chasing from a big and organised agency. Tough for me as I had a bit of a void before that tenancy and did not see the initial month's rent because of agency commission. But equally tough for a good tenant who might have been fighting unfair deductions and needed the money for their next deposit or indeed, food.

Lightning obviously strikes twice, as I then had a difficult tenant in one of my mother's properties. I got sick of him paying his rent late, plus he was impossible to contact - a pain when it came to organising maintenance, so gave him notice for the break point. The letting agency's admin skills (nice people though!) were weak, so to be sure, I asked a lawyer to review the documentation. Sure enough the agency had used the wrong notice form. More worrying was the lawyer's advice that if the tenant was after social housing, he would want to be evicted, which would mean that I (the money helps pay my mum's care costs) would have to go through the whole legal process, and essentially be without rental income for 6-12 months. Instead, luckily, it seems the tenant was wanted by the police for serious white collar crime, so he has disappeared, and has not responded to texts or emails about deposit deductions. The Agent gave me detailed but confusing instructions on how to get the deposit back, but they registered it in their name, so they need to do it. If they don't, and they no longer have any interest as I should get the money, I will have to embark on a complicated complaints process to have the deposit transferred to my name, and then go through the game of trying to contact the tenant. So again, lots of work and months before I see any money.

Rant over. But an issue. For the relet I have deliberately used a national chain with decent training and resources, but even they admitted they had just let a house to a lovely single mum who referenced well, only to discover that she never moved in and instead the property was a cannabis farm. That landlord will also have to go through the same deposit hoops.

The learning is:
1. Use a proper letting agency who is up to date on the rules.
2. Have the deposit registered in your name, because the agency are not interested once the tenancy has ended.
3. Be insured and read the details carefully. I apparently had insurance via the referencing company, but first it was not effective until rent is two months overdue, and my tenant was never (quite) two months overdue. Plus access was via the agency.
4. Do everything by the book, and never rely on an agency to organise things like the inventory, and make sure they stay on top of management and maintenance, as otherwise you could be breaching the contract. Arbitration will start by assuming the deposit belongs to the tenant, so you need to have done everything right.
5. Meet the tenant and rely on instincts. Avoid marginal tenants. They may be nice people, and they may well be desperate for housing, but if things go wrong it will be really expensive.

Jules125 Tue 15-Nov-16 11:12:35

Agree with others, you should dispute and will get your money back.

We had a dispute with LL about cleaning. LL wanted to make deductions for cleaning (we left the house very clean). Some of the things, like windows, he wanted to charge us for were dirty when we arrived, and better (though not perfect) when we left. The inventory protected us against this claim. If the state of the windows is not mentioned on the inventory at the start of the tenancy, I think they will have to give you your money back in full.

Tenantissues2016 Tue 15-Nov-16 14:55:33

I've started the dispute on the weekend, but I Haven't heard anything. I guess they are waiting for the letting agents response? The letting agent hasn't contacted us either to say what the deductions will be. I'm really, really struggling without the money as I thought they at least paid the undisputed amount back within 10 days. So I thought we'd be ok money wise.

We were only at that property 6 months as the LL gave us our section 21 after 4 months due to selling the house. So as all our savings went on the last move, it's been a struggle affording this one so I was really banking on getting some money back as we obviously had to pay the deposit up front for this new house too. Argh sad

Jules125 Tue 15-Nov-16 17:18:07

It is very mean of the LL not to give you the undisputed amount back immediately. This unreasonableness will also be considered in the dispute procedure. I am sorry about the delay, I think you will get it back though.

YelloDraw Tue 15-Nov-16 18:41:35

Needmoresleep your second issue sounds more of a nightmare! White collar crime, midnight flits, useless agents...! Hope you get it sorted. Such a pain.

Tenantissues2016 Thu 01-Dec-16 12:57:11

Hello, I'd appreciate any help on this please.

We've had an email now from the TDS. LL wants £500: £250 damages and £250 cleaning

We haven't had the £200 undisputed amount back from them.

We have now been invited to submit our evidence. What is the best way I can do this to try and get this money back? We are absolutely desperate for it. Thanks

PinkSwimGoggles Thu 01-Dec-16 13:01:24

no inventory you say?
so that would cover both damages and cleaning as there is no record of the place before you moved in.

Tenantissues2016 Thu 01-Dec-16 13:04:28

There was an inventory and a check out. Sorry if I've not been clear.

aginghippy Thu 01-Dec-16 13:13:34

But the inventory and check out are invalid, because they were done after the open house. Therefore, any damage or mess could have been caused after you left by the people attending the open house.

Tell them all that in your evidence, with specific dates as you did in your OP.

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