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Letter advice - Agent withheld part of deposit without entitlement


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Hi all,

 

I posted about this back in April, but figured I still need to deal with this! In short, we agreed for part of the deposit to be kept by the landlord when we moved out of our old house. This was fine, until the agent decided that they would keep amount for a 'renewal fee'.

 

We didn't agree with this, but the agent went ahead and refunded an amount less their 'fee', having told us that they would first call us back to explain on what grounds they were doing so. The additional deduction was not agreed by us or the landlord, and was processed on the last day that we could have possibly filed a dispute.

 

I intend to pursue them on this, as I don't believe they have a lawful reason for keeping the money, but wondered if the following draft letter could be opined upon:

 

We write in reference to our tenancy at
, which was arranged but not managed by yourselves, and ended on the 31st March 2012.

 

After an inspection of the propertly, (hereafter 'the landlord') requested that £675 of the deposit be retained for repairs, cleaning and redecoration, leaving £175 to be paid to us. This was agreed by us on the 11th April, and you were informed as such by the landlord.

 

In a phone call on 24th April, a representative of refused to release the deposit to us, stating instead that they would refund £85 and keep the remaining £90 to cover an unpaid 'Tenancy Renewal Fee', as per clause 9.9 of the tenancy agreement.

 

We informed the agent that we did not agree to this additional deduction, as we did not agree with the fee itself. We further stated that we did not believe was entitled to make deductions in lieu of agency fees.

 

The agent stated that they believed such deductions were allowed, and they would call back later that day to confirm this.

 

We received no such call, and on the 25th April a refund of £85 was issued through the DPS, in spite of our stated disagreement.

 

We hereby request the return of the additional £90, for (but not limited to) the following reasons:

 

- did not obtain our agreement before processing the partial refund, nor that of the landlord.

 

- The tenancy agreement contained an explicit explanation of what the deposit could be retained against. Agency fees were not on the list.

 

- The TDS document 'A Guide to Deposits, Disputes and Damages' suggests (page 8; 'Agency Charges') that agency fees should be kept distinct from the deposit.

 

- The fee was outlined on the tenancy agreement as '£90 inclusive of VAT for each extension of the tenancy'. This entailed sending us a new standard-form tenancy agreement, and nothing else. The continuation of the tenancy had already been agreed in principle between us and the landlord, without 's involvement.

 

If you believe that you were indeed entitled to keep the deposit, in spite of the above points, we would ask you to explain all of the above. In addition to this, we would also point out that we believe the fee to be unfair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999, as we do not see how £90 is a fair pre-estimate of the cost of sending a standard-form tenancy agreement.

Many thanks :)

fix (vb.):

1. to paper over, obscure, hide from public view;

2. to work around, in a way that produces unintended consequences that are worse than the original problem.

Usage: "Vista fixes many of the shortcomings of Windows XP".

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What are you going to do if they just say NO!

Suggest that you you should just ask for your money back and possibly give reasons if you want to, and say that this is a letter before action and you will take them to court if you dont receive the money in seven days.

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If they outright refuse, I'm quite willing to take them to court as I don't believe they had legal grounds to keep the money. However, I would like to give them the chance to explain their actions first.

fix (vb.):

1. to paper over, obscure, hide from public view;

2. to work around, in a way that produces unintended consequences that are worse than the original problem.

Usage: "Vista fixes many of the shortcomings of Windows XP".

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  • 3 months later...

Hi all,

 

Sorry to gravedig this thread again, but I finally got round to sending the letter that I posted here in July >_

 

Unsurprisingly, I had a reply from the agent saying that we agreed to clause 9.9 of our tenancy agreement, so they were entitled to take the money. The clause they're referring to says that we agree:

 

9.9 To pay £88.13 inclusive of VAT for each extension of the Tenancy.

 

The first thing I noticed, which I did not before, is that they've actually taken the wrong amount! However, they do seem to have ignored the rest of the letter in their reply. I find it slightly hypocritical of them claiming that they are simply going along with the agreement (by taking the fee) when they are ignoring the part that outlines what they can withhold money for!

 

I am going to write back to them today, but would appreciate a second (and/or third) opinion on whether I am right in thinking the following:

 

- By making a deduction that is not outlined in their own list of allowable deductions, they are in breach of the agreement

- By deducting money for fees, against the guidance of the TDS, they are breaking the rules of the TDS

 

If so, I'll lead with that. However, would I also be within my rights to challenge them on the fairness of the term, under UTCCR?

 

Thanks,

 

Gary

fix (vb.):

1. to paper over, obscure, hide from public view;

2. to work around, in a way that produces unintended consequences that are worse than the original problem.

Usage: "Vista fixes many of the shortcomings of Windows XP".

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Share on other sites
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