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fidodido1980

Different landlord, same deposit -- do I stand a chance of reclaiming my money?

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Hello all,

 

I'd be hugely grateful if somebody here could help me with my situation. It's rather complex however, so I'll present the events chronologically, and be as brief as possible:

 

 

--------------------------------------------------

 

 

August 2007: My three friends and I moved into our house, and paid a deposit of £200 each. We all received a HAND-WRITTEN RECEIPT for our individual deposits, saying the following:

 

--------------------------------------------

 

[My Name]

Received with thanks

£200 for deposit for [Address]

Landlord's Name/his signature

--------------------------------------------

 

The Landlord informed us that he was putting the money into a Deposit Protection Scheme (which he did).

 

March 2008: We sign a new contract that ends on 31st March 2009.

 

September 2008: Our old Landlorddecides to sell the house, so we get a new Landlord. At this point, we got a letter from the original Landlord, stating the following:

 

--------------------------------------------

"We still have your deposit and are awaiting instructions from the new landlord's solicitors, I will inform you what happens, but we will either return the deposit to you, and your new landlord will make arrangements to collect a new deposit off you, or transfer the deposit over to the new landlord."

--------------------------------------------

 

We have since learned from the very helpful DPS people that he should have returned the deposit and allowed us to come to a new arrangement with our new Landlord. Alas, he never got back to us to confirm his course of action. We learned much later that he just passed our deposit to the new guy, essentially using our deposit as a bargaining chip in the sale of the house.

 

March 31st 2009: Our tenancy agreement, still between ourselves and the OLD Landlord (the new owner never arranged a contract between himself and us), ends. In the days leading up to this date, I contact our new Landlord and say that we're interested in staying for another six months, and then ask him to send a new tenancy agreement. He does not do this.

 

May 1st 2009: We decide to move out of the property at the end of May. Although we still have no contract and could simply leave at the end of May, we decide to do the decent thing and send a letter of notice saying we'll be off at the end of the month. We send three letters, one for each of the three tenants who wish to leave (the fourth tenant has stayed in the house, and is still there now).

 

early-June 2009: Now in our new property, we contact the Landlord and ask when we can expect our deposits back. He claims to know nothing about a deposit! We contact our old Landlord, who sends us a solicitor's letter showing that the deposits were knocked off the price of the house.

 

late-June 2009: I send the solicitor's letter (by signed-for delivery) to the new Landlord, highlighting that he does have our money. A few days later, I ring up and ask him if we can have our deposit back. He seems to accept now that the money is with him, so I ask again if we can expect our deposits back. In a nutshell, he says: "No way." He gives some reasons for this:

 

1. "The house was left in a despicable/disgusting condition." [it wasn't; indeed, myself and the other tenants made great efforts to ensure that the house was left AS WE FOUND IT. We hoovered and cleaned everywhere, even though our fourth tenant was staying. The Landlord himself did not inventory the house when he took over.]

 

2. "We had an agreement that you'd be staying on for a few more months." [As mentioned above, I had told him we were interested in another six months, but he failed to send us a new tenancy agreement after being asked to. From 1st April, we had no contract.]

 

3. "You didn't give me notice that you were leaving." [We did -- in fact, we sent three individual letters of notice one month before leaving. Sadly, I neglected to send these by signed-for delivery].

 

 

--------------------------------------------------

 

 

As you can see, it's a complex situation, and sorry for making that not very brief as promised! I'd just really like to know where I can go from here.

 

WHAT I HAVE:

  • A hand-written receipt from the original Landlord for my deposit.

 

  • A letter from a solicitor stating that the money is with him.

 

WHAT I DON'T HAVE:

 

  • Sadly, I didn't do an inventory of furniture/flaws. I'm kicking myself over this.

 

  • Proof that we sent those notice of departure letters (though we sent three to his address, and I struggle to believe all three disappeared in the post).

 

In conclusion, what can I do?

We know this new Landlord never put our money into a DPS, and now he won't pay us back, on the grounds that we left the house in a "despicable condition" (we truly did nothing of the sort). I'm speaking to the Citizens' Advice Bureau tomorrow, but do any of you think legal action is a possibility or could be successful?

 

:) MANY THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR ANY INSIGHT YOU CAN GIVE ME. :)

Edited by fidodido1980

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My first query would have to be - how could the 1st LL remove the deposit from the DPS without the Tenants say so? Is the money not still with the DPS? Surely, he would simply have had it transferred into the name of the new LL - who then could not just take it?

 

When your new LL took over he should have

Served on you as Tenant:

a. old L's Letter of Authority (to pay rent to new LL);

b. Notice under s.3 of LTA 1985 (LL's address); and

c. Notice under s.48 of LTA 1987 (to pay rent to new LL.) If only item c is served without item a, you could ignore it.

 

Without these, you could have refused to pay your rent since you had no authority from old LL to pay it to new LL, and would not know who or where to pay it. (But put it in a separate account to pay up when the correct notices were actually served). Leaving all that aside though,

 

you now write to this LL telling him that if he does not return your deposit(s) in full within the next [10?] days that you will take him to court for the return of your deposit, plus 3 x deposit penalty, for non-compliance with the regulations regard the protection of tenants deposits. Tell him you have taken advice, and spoken to the DPS so know that your deposit has not been protected.

 

Since it appears that no check-in or check-out inventories were carried out he has no right to make ANY deductions from your deposit(s) since he has no way of proving the condition of the property when you moved in or when you moved out!

 

Good luck.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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Wow, thank you, a really informative and helpful reply! :)

 

To answer your initial question: until recently, the old Landlord's deposit was, as I understand, still in the DPS. He informed us that the new Landlord had our money now, and explained that we'd need to get it off him. As our old Landlord was (so we thought) a decent and seemingly honest guy who had always done right by us in the past (occasionally letting us off for late rent, etc.), we believed him. Pretty damn foolish of us, and just shows the value of research! I won't make the same mistake again.

 

I believe he may now have got his money back with the assistance of my fellow ex-tenant (who is in South Africa), so it looks like we will be going to the new Landlord for the money. I shall ring the DPS now, however, just in case it hasn't gone through.

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Wow, just discovered the original £800 is still in the DPS! :/ Essentially, this means that two sets of £800 are floating about -- £800 in the DPS, and the £800 in my new Landlord's pocket.

 

So do I go for the £800 in the DPS (and let the new Landlord/old Landlord sort out the £800 that was knocked off the price of the house?), or keep nagging the new Landlord for my money?

 

Gonna ring the DPS now to find out! What a mess.

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Excellent. Go for the cash in the DPS - forget the other - silly old LL!!!

 

You should have the details the first LL gave you re the deposit and how to get it back. The DPS are really helpful, so good luck.


Kentish Lass

Information given is based on my knowledge and experience and is not to be considered as legal advice

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