Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder Geraintheath Novitiate

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    Default Deposit not returned

    In a bit of a quandry about what to do here so will give a synopsis and will welcome gratefully any input/observations:

    Tenancy (3, but joint) of previous flat had expired so moved on after completely cleaning the flat. It was in a far better condition than when we moved in.

    Eventually got our deposits back totalling 159.50 out of 800, gobsmacked. He has charged us for work that didn't need doing and other work he certainly hasn't done. I sent of an initial letter explaining it was unsatisfactory and he had 21 days to produce receipts for the work and evidence that work had been carried out.

    Nothing.

    Basically this filthy little man has taken our money. Every bedroom was costed at 35 for cleaning, they were spotless. The oven 50 (still have burns on my hands from the chemicals I cleaned it with!), outside steps (leading upto a house of 3 flats) 25, inside steps leading upto our flat 25. He's charged us for damage to furntiure, not done and besides he never gave us an inventory so he's got no chance on that one! Others included cleaning the lounge whcih was also spotless and dry cleaning the curtains at 25 a shot!

    He even had the audacity to enclose a price list (not a receipt, just a generic charge sheet) of his cleaning contractors. We Googled his phone number and got a residential address - funnily enough it's the same post code as the one he has on the cleaning list. Very much doubt he's paid any tax on that income! The letter was dropped through his letter box so that he couldn't claim he hadn't received it.

    We were always very suspicious of the electricity meters on the premesis. Basically, drop a pound in the slot and get light. He obviously, set the rate, paid the bill and took the money. I very much doubt he was subsidising us and as an income stream it much surely be taxable? Feel like dropping him in it for that one too!

    As he's not responded, I don't believe he has any receipts and the work hasn't been done. Ergo, IMHO, he has issued penalty charges and fraudulantly just to top it all off.

    I'm very keen on recouping the money and seeing the (edit) little sod suffer.

    Any advice very much welcomed.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    This is typical. It happened to me. Any when you complain they provide invoices as proof. Where these invoices appear from, your guess is as good as mine.

    I didn't make such an effort when I left the next place I rented I can tell you.

    I sympathise totally.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    This is the same reason that after I have cleaned any tidied all 3 of of the rented houses I lived in I took photos and got witness statements from 'reliable' sources.

    Contact your local authority and see if they have a local housing rights office, if not contact your local CAB.

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  4. #4
    Basic Account Holder Miss Piggy Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    As a tennant you would be amazed @ the things you can do to the property without the owners consent.

    I know someone who because she didn't like her landlord having a key & therefore being able to access the flat whenever they chose (not that they ever did!), she changed the locks.

    The landlord witheld some of the initial deposit to change the locks again when the tennant vacated, tennant took owner to the small claimsicon court & judge ruled in the tennants favour & awarded expenses.

    My advice to you would be to file in the small claims court. If the owner turned up, its his word against yours. If the invoices supplied are a little inventive & are the address is the same as the landlords, the judge will see them for what they are & rule in your favour. Probably wouldn't come to this as expect the owner has more to loose by defending in court- sure the tax office would be interested in his little part time income.

    Go for it!


  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder john Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    the pound slot meters are not supplied by the local electricity company, anyone can go to an electrical wholesalers and buy a slot meter and connect it to the feed to the flats, and the electricity per pound setting is adjustable as the prices fluctuate and need to be adjusted accordingly? hope fully not making money out of it?


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Hi all!

    I am very sorry to read about your problems with your landlords.

    To begin with any guidance I give here is not intended to be patronising or critical of anyone's actions or potential actions.However,it is blunt to the point.I have a good sound knowledge about landlord & tenant laws and rules due to the fact that I have been involved in arranging mortgages for landlords.

    If anyone does not want hassle in getting his/her deposit returned you should approach an ARLA - Association of residential lettingicon Agents letting agency.

    All deposits are kept in a seperate account which eliminates any potential disputes regarding deposits.

    The ARLA website address is as follows:

    http://www.arla.co.uk

    Geraintheath,you say that you spent x for this y for that in cleaning the property.

    In my view it is very good that you did that but your landlord was stupid for the better word in not returning your deposit.

    You say that you did not have an inventory done,how do you know that your landlord never took signed and witnessed photos of the furnishings and fittings in the property prior to granting you the tenancy? I have done this for a few landlords myself.

    Of course again you did not sign an inventory which is probably swings things in your favour.

    To depress you further(no just joking!), in my view your landlord is allowed to make a "mark up" on the electricity but it should not be excessive.

    Also,how do you know your landlord is not paying tax on the rental income?


    Please do not assume.Also NEVER underestimate your opponent.

    In my opinion,to report him about the "likelihood" of not paying tax looks vendictive rather than seeking to redress your losses.Also if you are proven wrong it will backfire against you - so look before you leap!

    In my view you have a case against your landlord for getting your deposit returned whether it would the full amount would depend on how he responds.Also,you may be able to challenge the excessive electricity charges.Personally,I think that would be a costly and wasted exercise.However,regardin g the deposit,threaten him with legal action if you do not have a positive response sue!

    It is as simple as that!

    Also,did you take photos of the property furnishings and fittings prior to your departure?

    If yes,you should have a better chance in getting the full amount refunded.

    Simply,

    Now,Miss Piggy in my view it is very foolish and irresponsible to change the lock on a property that you are letting without the owner's consent.What would happen if say there was a fire in the property and the owner was asked to attend the premises by whoever? There is a clause in any tenancy whether written clearly or otherwise that a landlord and or his agent/contractor etc is/are allowed to enter at reasonable times in order to inspect the property and carry out repairs.
    Again your friend's landlord was foolish not to return her deposit.

    Any landlord or anyone acting on his behalf that enters a property without the tenant's consent is clearly a trespasser.Also the landlord is not allowed to disturb or "breach the quite enjoyment" of the property that the tenant resides in.

    I hope anyone reading this posting finds its content useful.

    If anyone needs anymore help or has questions,please feel free to ask.

    TO ALL TENANTS!

    For God sake,next time use an ARLA agent as detailed above!


  7. #7
    Basic Account Holder watccoe75 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare4banks
    Simply,

    Now,Miss Piggy in my view it is very foolish and irresponsible to change the lock on a property that you are letting without the owner's consent.What would happen if say there was a fire in the property and the owner was asked to attend the premises by whoever?
    You do not need the owner's consent to change the locks unless this is written specifically into the tenancy agreement.

    If there's a fire and no-one's in, the fire brigade will force entry, not hang around waiting for the landlord to turn up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare4banks
    There is a clause in any tenancy whether written clearly or otherwise that a landlord and or his agent/contractor etc is/are allowed to enter at reasonable times in order to inspect the property and carry out repairs.
    The landlord and/or his employees etc have to give 48 hours written notice if they want to enter the property to inspect it or carry out repairs.

    Geraintheath - definitely take them to the small claimsicon. Also see if your local authority has a private tenancy team or similar, I have found the one where I live to be very helpful.

    Personally I always put in my notice letter that the landlord should use the deposit as the last month's rent and that I will be happy to pay for any damage in the unlikely event that there is any. Technically, they could take you to court for the rent, but this has never happened to me or anyone I know.

    Halifax plc

    LBA sent 11/01/06
    Rec'd fob off letter 21/01/06
    Last ditch attempt phone call to avoid court action 07/04/06
    Reply rec'd 07/04/06 'On this occasion we are unable to help you'
    Claim filed 19/04/06
    Claim acknowledged 28/04/06

    SETTLED IN FULL 11/05/06


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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Hi all!

    Now,watccoe - I did not say that you needed the landlord's consent or otherwise regarding changing the locks.If a tenant does change the locks however,it shows clear contempt of the landlord from the offset and the likelihood of triggering a similar response from the landlord in one way or another in the future.

    IN BRIEF...

    I am trying to show tenants and/or landlords to be responsible for their actions.Also, for the landlords to be able to carry out out their duties and obligations unhindered but not bypassing their tenants rights to lawfully enjoy the occupation of the residential premises.

    ALSO..

    It is totally up to any tenant and/or landlord to do what he/she wants at the time. But believe me - something you do today could come back and bite you on the a** later on down the line and when you least expect it.


  9. #9
    Basic Account Holder Geraintheath Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Cheers for the insights and help folks, much appreciated. Just to keep you updated, I'm sending him an lbaicon detailing points we concede on (wallpaper damage from one of the lad's blue tack) and points we are contesting (most of the others). It's my belief that if I demonstrate that we are behaving honestly and he has been deliberately misleading then it can only strengthen our case. He still requires invoices to evidence that he ahs carrioed out these tasks, if they come from the price list he sent us referencing an unnamed agency at this own postcode, then he'll be shown to be pretty dodgy IMHO.

    Good luck to everyone else. I'm very much once bitten, twice shy now and will follow then advice given by those in the know with prior experience of this kind of thing.

    Although, I have rented many properties in the past this is my first genuinely negative experience. A majority of tenants and landlord are good, fair and reasonable people, shame the selfish few spoil it for the rest of us.

    I'll keep the board updated with the progress

    G


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Hi all!

    Now,Geraintheath

    You may have already considered these points,but I will still mention them:

    1.Please do not forget to send your lbaicon to your landlord's registered address - the details as put on the tenancy.

    2.Make sure you send the LBA recorded delivery.Keep the recorded delivery stub in a safe place should you need to show it in the event of court action.

    3.Be polite,firm and to the point when dealing with your landlord.

    4.Give the landlord adequate time to deal with the matter - say a maximum of 1 month from LBA to county courticon Summons.If you do not do this,a judge may say that you have not given your landlord time to rectify the situation and be less understanding about your dispute with your landlord.

    5.The dispute with your landlord should be placed in bullet points - enough information but not too much waffle.This is also useful if you have to go to court.This is because each point would have to be dealt with and cannot be bypassed unlike if you wrote your dispute as paragraphed story in which the landlord could opt to evade to answer a point/points within your parargraphed story.Also,it is easier to cross reference for the judge and yourself.

    6.Between sending the LBA and issuing the Summons - avoid contact with your landlord by phone unless it is to meet up with you to pay you.

    7.If you are paid before any court action,have a witness on your side attend.If the landlord asks you to sign anything read it carefully and ask for a copy for your records.If it is only a receipt do not insist.It is also a good idea to confirm in writing on your part that the matter then is closed and thank him for dealing with you in an amicable manner - you may not like to do this but as long as he paid you back your money you have shown him you are not walkover and also a gentleman at the same time.He will think twice again before trying to twist another tenant of his/her deposit.

    8.Another way around being refunded would be for you to give your landlord your full bank account details - no witness needed,no receipt has to be signed and you get your money in the account - the negative side here is possible stalling and delaying tactics by your landlord.If he does not pay you after the month has lapsed issue the summons.

    I hope you find these points useful.

    If you have any questions,please feel free to ask.

    Keep us posted.

    All the best!


  11. #11
    Basic Account Holder Geraintheath Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Cheers for the info, I have already written to him asking for receipts and a full refund giving him 21 days to respond. It wasn't sent recorded delivery as we posted it through his letter box. We have heard nothing...

    For the lbaicon I will certainly get it done recorded. 28 days seems reasonable, I am trying to be firm and not step down to his level. By giving him this I assume it will only look better on my behalf. My assumption is that he thinks he can get away with it and we won't challenge him - guess he doesn't know me very well!

    I am in a very lucky position as I play cricket and am friendly with a whole host of solicitors, so will get one of them to amend and look over my letter this evening over a pint or two. I any extra info pos up I'll see if it's useful to anyone here and keep you informed.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Hi all!

    Now,Geraintheath well done!

    It is fine to hand deliver any letters as well.

    A few more possible useful points:

    1.Remember what date your letter to the landlord was delivered.

    2.Be a "man with a plan" and stick to it.

    3.Take each step at a time in order to reach your goal - refund of your deposit.
    There is no need to be concerned with say a court hearing yet as your landlord may "cough up" quickly.

    4.Make it such that him failing to refund your deposit is his loss and not your gain because he will have to pay extra costs i.e. Summons Costs.

    It is also good that you know some solicitors who can assist you,however if you need a second opinion feel free to ask me.

    You may be surprised of the outcome and your landlord may also have a drink with you!I have seen this also happen in the past!

    You have shown that you are not a doormat but it is water under bridge as far as the money is concerned - which can only make your landlord respect you more.

    Keep us posted!


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Quote Originally Posted by Geraintheath
    We Googled his phone number and got a residential address .
    Do you have a link for this service. Would make a good sticky for DCAicon's addresses instead of them hiding behid PO box numbers.


  14. #14
    Basic Account Holder Geraintheath Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    It's not a service. I just typed his phone number into google and it turned up with a residential address because he has another business listed there


  15. #15
    Basic Account Holder lynzpower Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    I had a similar issue with one of my previous landlords, quite frankly she was a bitch.

    We had a inkling she was going to withhold deposit ( and without slamming the gate after the horse has bolted, just FYI for future ref& for other readerS) we enlisted the skills of our local authority private lettings officer. Basically, he was putting her right n her place as to what was reasonable, what was not. Most not.

    The other thing that she stated was she was going to charge us 300 for the contract cleaners, 200 for this, 50 for that.

    The PSLO told her in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that she would have NO WAY of knowing what it would cost or what the deductions could be as in order to withold the deposits for remedial works she needed to have 3 quotes and take the lowest quote. Also she needed to ensure that the work that she was billing us for was reasonable & not general wear & tear. Ie she had a cream carpet in the hallway,and she was saying it needed to be replaced as there was small brown mark ( mud we coudlnt get out) by the doormat. Mark no bigger than 50p peice.
    She was told this is wear & tear, not damage. Additionally, "inclement weather conditions" had killed two potted plants not purposely tenants fault.

    She withheld the full amount of a grand and a half, then gave us 85 then we threatened court and were given pretty much the whole amount back losing 150 between 3 in the end ( as I recall)
    I was young and intimidated by both her & the court process, otherwise I would have taken her for harrassment & bullying, which is what Id do now, If I was still renting.

    These peopel are a law unto themselves.


  16. #16
    Basic Account Holder Geraintheath Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Thanks for the help. Forewarned is forearmed! Doubt either of us will ever have deposit 'issues' again.


  17. #17
    Basic Account Holder auto98 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Quote Originally Posted by lynzpower
    Additionally, "inclement weather conditions" had killed two potted plants not purposely tenants fault.
    Haha never heard of a landlord claiming for this - even if it wasn't inclement weather i would have thought this could only be claimed if looking after the plants was specified in your contract


  18. #18
    Basic Account Holder mortuk2k Novitiate mortuk2k's Avatar

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    I was once billed for a loose screw on a door handle, amongst several hundred other things. The landlord attempted to build a picture of complete neglect of the property with all manner of really tiny problems.
    Unfortunately for him, none of these specific items were showing as being in good order on the original inventory so he got no where with his claim.


  19. #19
    Basic Account Holder nij4t2 Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare4banks
    If anyone does not want hassle in getting his/her deposit returned you should approach an ARLA - Association of residential lettingicon Agents letting agency.

    All deposits are kept in a seperate account which eliminates any potential disputes regarding deposits.
    I once used a letting agent from the other side of the fence - what can I say, I needed to move and negative equity meant I did not want to sell. However, if I recall rightly, the agent I chose was ARLA... and I have to say that as a generally fair person, I thought it worked out well. The agent was the contact for the tenants, & effectively became the arbitrator any time a tenant moved away. Most times, she considered the effect of the tenant on the flat as 'fair wear and tear'... the one time she held back the deposit I can assure you that the damage that had been caused was substantially more than the deposit was!

    I am sure that most of the people on these lists are responsible and careful tenants... but not all landlords are out to get you! Like Nightmare4Banks says, ARLA should be a good bet.

    Nij
    Halifax 744 - Letter 1 sent 22/3 - no response
    Letter 2 (LBA) sent 7/4
    Standard Response Letter rcvd 7/4
    Phone call rcvd 24/4 - offered 308 CONDITIONALLY - awaiting confirmation letter
    27/4 - Conditional offer letter rcvd for 308
    Case created on MoneyClaim 4/5
    Halifax notes an intention to defend claim 10/5
    23/5 - Some cash appears in account!
    Settled, and ceased court action
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    Basic Account Holder ROME2MANDALAY Novitiate

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    Default Re: Deposit not returned

    I have a similar problem wherby my letting agent want to hold 160 for a days cleaning and I have requested an invoice, but they also claim they need copies of finl bills for council tax, gas, electricity and water before they return my deposit are they legally entitled to do this ?



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