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Previous landlord refuses to repay deposit


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I signed an AST on 3/7/04 and provided the landlord with a cheque for £1350, made up of £675 for one month's rent deposit in advance and £675 as a security deposit. I have a receipt confirming the amounts and their purpose.

 

He sold the property in mid-November last year, and the new landlords were allocated the £675 security deposit, which they have dealt with in the correct manner.

 

However the former landlord insists that since the other £675 paid to him represented rent in advance he will not repay it to me. I have spoken to the new landlords, who are very pleasant people, and they have consulted with their solicitors and advise that this is a problem between myself and the previous owner.

 

I rang him to ask when he would be repaying this deposit, and he categorically insists that he will not repay this money.

 

I have had a meeting with the LA Housing Advice department, and they have (a) confirmed that they paid him in full between the start and finish dates of the tenancy and (b) have supplied me with screen prints to confirm the payments made.

 

Copies of these were sent to him via recorded delivery more than ten days ago, asking again for the return of this deposit. However he has so far ignored my requests, and indeed was openly hostile and sarcastic during our last conversation.

 

It would seem that I am going to have to sue him for these monies, and so far as I can see he doesn't have a leg to stand on. However I cannot afford the cost of doing this. Although I am in receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee I have been advised (by a non-professional) that I will still have to stump up the cost of court action, and that I will be unable to recover costs if/when I am successful.

 

If anyone has any suggestions that will help I shall be most grateful. Thanks in advance.

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Actually I think its a problem between your old landlord and your new landlords. You have done all you where meant to have done in terms of the tenancy i.e. pay a deposit and a months rent in advance. You where not party to the sale agreements when the property was sold where these issues should have been resolved.

 

I dont understand why you are trying to recover the months rent in advance from the previous landlord? it isnt yours.

 

What will happen is that when you are served notice or serve notice to leave you wont pay the last months rent as you have already paid this. It will then be for your new landlords to try and obtain it from the old landlord. Your depsoit will be in a TDS scheme and as you have proofs of all payments, shouldnt be witheld for rent arrears because there arent any.

 

I would be suggesting to your new landlords that they contact the solicitor that acted on their behalf during their purchase as they should have sorted this matter out then.

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The LA Housing Advice people said that what you suggest in your third paragraph is what should have happened. However, as you also say, I was not party to the agreement and was not aware of this provision.

 

The new landlords are quite happy to get their money in arrears from the LA, especially as I have been resident here for more than three years and they are getting paid four-weekly in arrears. They are quite happy to have the equivalent of one month's rent as a deposit, and they have duly paid this into a TDS.

 

So I don't see how this money is not mine, since effectively I paid the old landlord two months and the new ones want only one.

 

I appreciate and thank you for your help, and I do need to get this cleared up. Obviously I do not want to go to court with a false claim. The Housing Advice people told me that they discussed this matter comprehensively among themselves, and there was a unanimous accord that this money should be returned to me.

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This is a bit confusing. This is what it sounds like.

 

You were paying your old landlord rent in advance. So you paid him rent for November at the beginning of November.

 

The new landlord took over (in the middle of November).

 

In December, you paid the new landlord, but they think you were paying them in arrears for November.

 

Why do they think you are paying them in arrears?

 

Unless I've misunderstood, then yes I agree with Planner. I think it is your new landlords' responsibility to get the rent off the old landlord. You should politely inform your new landlords that you are paying them in advance, not arrears. Are they a bit naive? They should have also been given the proportion of rent for the period in November when they were the owners.

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Steve, it's entirely confusing. Even Housing Advice were nonplussed for a time. And I was very ill last year, so mentally it's been like trying to wade through treacle.

 

It's not been made any less complicated by the fact that the LA pays my Housing Benefit four-weekly in arrears, but the contract period is monthly, nor that the LA pays the equivalent of £650 per month and I pay the balance of £25 per month.

 

The screen prints of which I have a copy show that the rent has been paid in full to the previous landlords from the inception of the AST, with a final payment to mid-November last year, when the flat was sold.

 

Although I was aware that a sale was going to take place I didn't know the date, and the old AST was never determined.

 

However in November I signed a new AST with the new landlords, and at that time the deposit money had been accounted for in the sale, and there was - and is - a sum of £675 which the old landlord retains. He has told me that 'of course' that money is the rent in advance, but in fact he has been paid in full by the LA. So whether it is the new landlords or I who is entitled to the return of that rental, one thing I *am* sure of, and that is that this money is not his. Deliberately or not, he is assuming that he was still relying on my advance rental for the last month and this is not the case, since he has been paid by the LA.

 

Whether or not the new landlords are naive is not for me to judge. They own several properties which they have bought as a retirement fund, and are not professional renters.

 

For interest this is an excerpt from a letter I had from the wife last year:

 

"We have now received a reply from our Solicitors, copy attached for information. It would appear that Mr and Mrs XX do not agree with your deposit figure.

 

(The Solicitors) have further advised that this is an issue between you and Mr and Mrs XX and does not involve us as the new landlords."

 

They have been given that proportion of the November rent due to them following the completion of the sale last November, paid to them by the LA. And yes, they are perfectly aware that they are being paid in arrears. They don't have a problem with that, and neither does Housing Advice at the LA.

 

I am sorry this is complicated. Basically the problem revolves around the supposition that the old landlords have made, which is that that part of the initial deposit I gave them was for rent in advance. But as I hope I have shown, they have in fact been paid twice for the last month of my tenancy with them.

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What does your new AST say about the rent being in arrears or in advance?

 

What date did the exchange of contracts take place i.e. did your old landlord sell ownership and your new landlords take up ownership?

 

Did you sign a new tenancy agreement on the same day?

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