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DISPUTE OVER RIDICULOUS DEPOSIT CHARGES IN COUNTY COURT-Please Help!!!

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14 months Assured shorthold tenancy started Sept 2009, end Jan 2011.

 

LL presented me with ridiculous charges for administrative costs in chasing up utility companies at £100 per company, totalling £300 (electric/water/council tax).

There is no clause in the tenancy agreement, which obligates me the tenant to provide the landlord with final bill statements. All bills were paid in full, in due time and I have rang up each company asking if there was any correspondence between themselves and my LL to substantiate the LL's claim. The answer was 'no' in each case, and as far as I know it is not standard practice for utility companies, if the bill is unpaid, to chase up the landlord, rather than the account holder. Thus the LL cannot impose such charges? Am I right in thinking all of the above?

 

Sofa with a slightly dented armrest- LL claimed that I have damaged the sofa and wished to replace it with a brand new leather sofa, initially pricing the top cost at £300, now LL changed a priced a new sofa at £449. The inventory I signed states ‘two seater black sofa’ there is no mention of the condition. Can this be argued as betterment? I am a conscientious tenant, the place was left sparkling (in much better shape than received and I have pictorial evidence of this), with absolutely no damage, and therefore I am obviously not prepared to pay for any of the charges. I know that the whole apartment block has this particular sofa and everyone has the same problem with the armrests, the foam inside just melts after some time.

My deposit is protected by a scheme, however LL presented these charges 3 months after I moved out of the property and now I cannot use arbitration to resolve the dispute. The only remedy available to me is placing a claim with county court.

 

And finally, I moved out of the property 3 weeks before the end my tenancy (the full moths rent was paid). The landlord was fine about and aware of that fact. A new tenant moved in 2.5 weeks before the end of my tenancy. It was agreed over telephone and in an e-mail correspondence that the landlords were to reimburse me the rent for that time, as in essence she was getting double. She has now conveniently forgot about this. Where do I stand?

 

i) Any help and advice on how to start a County Court claim

ii) The wording of a Letter Before Action

iii) Chances of success in: a) admin charges b) sofa c) rent refund

 

Many thanks in advance.

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Sounds to me like you're on the right lines with the claim. I understand that email promises are admissable. Perhaps photos of these other sofas' armrests would help too.

 

1. The admin costs sound pretty straightforward - can't see LL can justify.

2. For the sofa issue, suggest a belt-and-braces claim - say it is betterment, that the issue indicates a sofa to be faulty, that there is no evidence that it was not the same when you moved in, and that you didn't treat it badly.

3. Hopefully emails make this clear-cut. I suppose LL may deny that tenant moved in? This may be a "negotiating point" if LL looks like caving in.

 

Other than that I think it is relatively straightforward and cheap to start a claim with Moneyclaim online - though I've not done it myself...

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I believe I can get the photos and also some information on when the sofas were put in the apartment as I understand the whole building was renovated and furnishes and then sold, hence the identical furnishings. My friend ownes the flat in the building and can provide the information, perhaps it would be useful.

How can I present a claim that I

didn't treat it badly
, because that is the case but not sure what the court would say.

I don't think LL can deny that a new tenant moved in, LL stated that in an e-mail to me, also my last council tax bill was calculated taking into the account the new tenancy. If that is not enough I might be able to get ask the new tenant for a copy of their agreement. Also the neighbors witness statements or is that going over board?

 

From what I gathered there are two routes, Money Claim online which is N1 form I believe there is a different form N-something else.

Also I wonder if anyone knows the time scale for this dispute. The reason I ask is that I am currently residing abroad and will have to fly in for the proceedings, just wondering how many times that may be.

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What effect if any does a county court claim awarded in the tenants favor, has on LL and their business, if they are portfolio LL's for examples? I heard somewhere that small claims judgments are passed to credit agencies, and therefore threatening legal action can serve as a deterrent for LL?

 

If that is true I was thinking of including this in the letter before action.

 

Any advice?

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I take it no deposit was given then for her to deduct these costs?

Was am inventory/inspection done when you moved in and signed?

Was one done when you left and were these things noted? If none of these then she will have a job to prove anything.

Any charges for fittings or furniture must take into account wear and tear! ( no betterment)

LL has no right to investigate utilities which you are responsible for.

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What did you meant by ' no deposit was given for her to make deductions?'. LL holds the deposit in her accnt, it was/is protected by insurance based scheme but since the time for ARD lapsed it is of no use. LL is informing that deductions will be made from the deposit and remained paid out to me. I am naturally disputing these charges. Advised to write a letter before action and working on the wording now.

 

Any suggestions? Would be most grateful.

 

Inventory was signed when moved in, all it stated was 'two seater black sofa' no condition was mentioned. When moving out, LL snapped a photo of the armrest, e-mailing to me as evidence of damage. I was not present at the time the photo was taken.

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Deposit was mentioned as you did not!

Persue your claim through the courts, sems you have agood case.

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My advice is applicable only if the rented premises are entirely within England and Wales, and only if you were granted a shorthold tenancy (under which you [and your spouse/partner/children if any] had exclusive use of at least a bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom, none of which were shared with another tenant nor with the landlord) and you were over 18 years of age when the tenancy was granted.

 

 

Your legal obligations are those set out in the letting agreement. If the agreement does not require you to pay administrative charges, you will normally have no liability to pay them.

 

If you do have any liability to pay them, it will be to your benefit in any court hearing if you have written confirmation from the utility companies in support of the points you have explained to us.

 

 

In regard to the question of 'betterment' concerning the sofa, read this FAQ - Disrepairs in privately rented accommodation

 

Beware of agreeing to pay for any items which are the landlord's responsibility to pay for.

 

 

As you paid a deposit, please read the FAQs about the tenancy deposit scheme, under which you might be entitled to sue for compensation if you had a shorthold tenancy -

 

- Tenancy Deposit Scheme

 

- Tenancy Deposit Protection - First High Court Decision

 

- TDS eligibility, implication of breach and legal questions answered

 

 

Also read the FAQ about what deductions the landlord can lawfully make from the deposit -

 

- Unfair deposit deductions

 

 

 

Sue for a rent refund if you can prove the date on which your landlord re-let the premises, provided that was before the date up to which you had paid the rent. For example, a letter from the new occupier or from the landlord or from the letting agents, stating the exact date on which the new letting started.

 

 

In your letter before action: you need to set out the items you intend to sue for, giving the amount of each item; and give the total amount as well; and tell the landlord to pay you that total amount within 14 days; and tell the landlord that you will sue in the county court for that amount if you haven't received it within that time.

Edited by Ed999

Note

 

This is a self-help forum in which users share their experiences. Assistance is offered informally, without any assumption of liability. Use your own judgement; obtain advice from a qualified and insured professional if you have any doubts.

 

This posting gives general guidance only. It is not an authoritative statement of the law. Consult a Solicitor for specific advice before deciding on any course of action.

 

 

Further information:

 

Assured and Shorthold tenancies - A guide for tenants

 

Renting and Leasehold - Advice from Shelter

 

 

All posts are opinion only

 

 

If you've found my suggestions useful, please click on my star and add a comment

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xxxx

xxxxx

xxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxx

20th April 2011

 

 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxx

xxxxx

xxxxx

xxxxx

 

 

 

Dear xxxxxx,

 

LETTER BEFORE ACTION

 

Further to my e-mail dated xxxxx 2011 requesting the return. This letter relates to my repeated requests that you return the deposit that I paid on 04.09.2009 for the accommodation at xxxxxxxxxx.

 

I would like to formally dispute your proposed deductions from the deposit.

With regards to the administrative charges, I do not have a duty to provide you with closing statements. The charges are simply unreasonable

Second, with regards to the sunken sofa arm I dispute the amount of £449 for replacement of the sofa. The compression of the foam in the armrest is a result of fair wear and tear. The item was used for its intended purpose. Replacement is an appropriate remedy where the item is either severely or extensively damaged beyond economic repair or, its condition makes it unusable. This is clearly not the case, as a sunken armrest does not impair the use and enjoyment of the sofa.

Lastly, I request refund of the rent as to our prior agreement and your acceptance of early surrender by re-letting the property from 23.12.2011 until 4.01.2011 inclusive, amounting to £25x13 amounting £325.

Amount of the deposit: £1042.50

Amount of the rent refund: £325

Total: £1367.50

 

Failing a satisfactory resolve within fourteen days from the date of this letter I will place a claim to the county court without further notice.

 

Yours faithfully

 

 

 

 

Name xxxxxxx

Contact number xxxxxxxx

 

 

 

 

This a rough first draft of a lba. From what I gather it is best to keep it short.

Your suggestions and corrections are welcome!

Thanks in advance.

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Looks good to me.

Suggest quoting the charges and stating they are not chargeable (rather than being unreasonable)

 

With regards to the administrative charges of £300 for obtaining closing statements for utilities, I do not have a duty to provide you with these statements. You are not entitled to charge for this.

 

You might want to drop a strong hint to see if you can get a refund of the undisputed amount straight away, eg.

 

Deposit £1042.50

Your deductions £749.00

Undisputed amount £293.50 (please repay this by return of post in part-settlement).

Amount of the rent refund: £325

Total: £1367.50

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Suggest quoting the charges and stating they are not chargeable (rather than being unreasonable)

 

With regards to the administrative charges of £300 for obtaining closing statements for utilities, I do not have a duty to provide you with these statements. [/font]

 

Thanks for you suggestion, I have implemented that in the letter. If part of the deposit was returned would it make any difference to the claim in court?

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A letter before action is not necessary, and may actually harm your case. A claim started without sending a letter before action is still a valid claim.

 

Solicitors typically send a letter before action in order to be entitled to add their fee to the claim, as legal costs might otherwise be refused by the Court if the Defendant pays up in full within 14 days of being served with the summons - even though none ever do.

 

 

A letter before action [LBA] can harm your claim because -

 

a. In an urgent case, sending an LBA will delay the commencement of proceedings for a fortnight, while you are waiting uselessly for a payment that will never arrive.

 

b. A badly drafted LBA will actually damage your claim, in that:

 

1. If it states your claim imprecisely - which many inexperienced litigants do - it can give ammunition to the Defendant, by enabling him to raise a series of futile but time-wasting points seeking clarification of the discrepancies between the LBA and the particulars of claim endorsed on the claim form.

 

2. Unless it is repeated word for word in the claim form, it can potentially restrict your claim in court. Both the Defendant and the Court can become genuinely confused as to what the basis of your claim is.

 

 

The above is a typical example of a badly prepared letter before action. [sorry!]

 

Instead of simply setting out your claim, it seeks to present a defence [and, worse, evidence!] to matters the Defendant has not raised in the case - which he can't have raised, because the case has not yet started! - and which in Court he might not raise at all! The proposed LBA reads like a defence or counterclaim, which is very bad tactics.

 

 

This is what you should say -

 

Dear Sir,

 

Premises at _______________________

 

With regard to my tenancy, I require you to refund to me the full rent deposit which I paid, in the sum of £_____.

 

Further, I require you to refund my overpayment of rent, in respect of the period from ________ (the date of the re-letting of the premises) to _________ (___ days at £___ per calendar month), totalling £_____.

 

If I have not received the total amount of £_____ within fourteen days from the date of this letter I will commence a claim in the County Court for that amount without further notice to you.

 

Yours faithfully

Edited by Ed999

Note

 

This is a self-help forum in which users share their experiences. Assistance is offered informally, without any assumption of liability. Use your own judgement; obtain advice from a qualified and insured professional if you have any doubts.

 

This posting gives general guidance only. It is not an authoritative statement of the law. Consult a Solicitor for specific advice before deciding on any course of action.

 

 

Further information:

 

Assured and Shorthold tenancies - A guide for tenants

 

Renting and Leasehold - Advice from Shelter

 

 

All posts are opinion only

 

 

If you've found my suggestions useful, please click on my star and add a comment

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If you have already discussed and debated the issues with the LL then I agree that Ed's straightforward letter-style is better.

 

I would add at the top a line referring to your previous discussions so that it is clear that the letter is not "out of the blue".

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Ed999- Thank you. You are absolutely right, the above draft is terrible and the purpose of a proper 'letter before action' is just to inform that court action will be taken if the matter is not satisfactory resolved within the given time period.

If you have already discussed and debated the issues with the LL then I agree that Ed's straightforward letter-style is better.

The only thing is that since LL put forward the new charges a week ago, I have been gathering information on where I stand and haven't disputed them or explained LL's unreasonable position.

 

Shouldn't I do that first before sending the Letter before action?

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My reading of the situation is that the landlord has invented the so-called 'charges' in order to evade repayment of your deposit, hence will not refund it to you whatever you say. Your account of the facts to date indicates that the landlord is intent upon keeping the money.

 

In my opinion further correspondence with the landlord is futile. Either forget about the money or sue. The landlord doesn't need you to tell her that she is acting unreasonably. Vacillation will merely waste your time, and encourage the landlord.


Note

 

This is a self-help forum in which users share their experiences. Assistance is offered informally, without any assumption of liability. Use your own judgement; obtain advice from a qualified and insured professional if you have any doubts.

 

This posting gives general guidance only. It is not an authoritative statement of the law. Consult a Solicitor for specific advice before deciding on any course of action.

 

 

Further information:

 

Assured and Shorthold tenancies - A guide for tenants

 

Renting and Leasehold - Advice from Shelter

 

 

All posts are opinion only

 

 

If you've found my suggestions useful, please click on my star and add a comment

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Ed999- you are correct with regard to LL's intentions. At least that is how I read the situation myself. I just didn't want to harm my claim by having failed to complete an important step like informally disputing the charges, to show to the court that it could not have been resolved amicably or that I have done all that I could.

 

Also one quick question. The tenancy was joint in contract only, but I assume that the Letter before action must come from and be singed by both named tenants?

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If you had a contract naming two or more persons as the tenant, then by all means have them both sign the letter before action. It's only a letter though.

 

The more important point is that the court claim form should include all the tenants as the claimant. The court case is going to be between all the tenants, as claimant, and all the landlords, as defendant - because that was how the contract was, and the court might raise an objection to an action on a contract that omits some of the parties to the contract.

 

But bear in mind that if the contract provides for the tenants' liability to be joint and several, if you were sued, e.g. by the landlord making a counterclaim, then any tenant would be liable to pay everything owed under the contract by all the tenants, and might have to sue the other tenant/s seperately - i.e. in a seperate case - for a contribution if some tenants are not included in the original court case. The court will usually want to avoid such a duplication of proceedings.


Note

 

This is a self-help forum in which users share their experiences. Assistance is offered informally, without any assumption of liability. Use your own judgement; obtain advice from a qualified and insured professional if you have any doubts.

 

This posting gives general guidance only. It is not an authoritative statement of the law. Consult a Solicitor for specific advice before deciding on any course of action.

 

 

Further information:

 

Assured and Shorthold tenancies - A guide for tenants

 

Renting and Leasehold - Advice from Shelter

 

 

All posts are opinion only

 

 

If you've found my suggestions useful, please click on my star and add a comment

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