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Letting agent gave part of my deposit to another tenant!


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Not sure where to start with this one!

 

I rented a property with my partner and a friend over a year ago. My friend was skint, and in the interest of getting the property, I (foolishly) paid his part of the deposit (so I had paid two thirds).

 

My partner and I moved out in January, effectively ending the contract, however my friend stayed on with other people with a brand new contract.

 

I verbally reminded the letting agent that I paid his share and I would need it back. However they kept it and used it as payment for the new deposit. I have since been chasing my friend for the money back, but he's effectively said he's keeping it.

 

I've now emailed the letting agent asking for it back, as they have effectively breached the contract (?) by not returning the deposit back to the depositors. Note that they have also not notified me of any other reason to retain any money (i.e. due to damage to the property).

 

Can anyone give me any advice on this? I think it's quite obvious to be honest, but a spot of sanity checking wouldn't go amiss!

 

Cheers.

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You may have real problems here, unless at the start when you paid the deposit you ensured that it was ring-fenced from the rest.

 

This is because under the tenancy agreement you signed you no doubt agreed that you were jointly and severally linked to the other tenants. Thus the agent, unless there were specific instructions otherwise would be entitled to return the deposit to any one of the tenants to share it out amongst the rest.

 

The agent would argue that as one or more of the original tenants instructed them to use the same deposit for the new agreement, even though some names had changed, they acted on the instructions of at least one of the joint and several tenants.

Edited by Esio Trot
clarified joint and several

On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Read anything I write with the above in mind.

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Thanks for the heads up.

 

I did however ask them (verbally) to return all the money to myself, as none of it belonged to the other tenant.

 

I'm livid that they feel they can distribute it as they please after the contract ended, as now I will probably have to go through the Small Claims process.

 

Are you saying this isn't advisable?

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I'm livid that they feel they can distribute it as they please after the contract ended, as now I will probably have to go through the Small Claims process.

 

Are you saying this isn't advisable?

 

In our office (I am an agent) before a tenancy starts we ascertain who is paying what and what should happen to it at the end - saves no end of arguments. Shame your's didn't do this.

 

Money claim on-line will only cost you £35 if it is under £500. However, you will have to issue a joint action - against the agent (as deposit-holding is a quasi-trustee activity) and the landlord (of whom the agent is merely the representative).

 

If the agent defends, I don't hold your chances of success as very good. On the other hand, the agent may be willing to reach a compromise to save the time and hassle of defending.

On some things I am very knowledgeable, on other things I am stupid. Trouble is, sometimes I discover that the former is the latter or vice versa, and I don't know this until later - maybe even much later. Read anything I write with the above in mind.

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