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Hi Everyone

 

I'm new to this forum and wanted to get some advice regarding recovering my tenancy deposit. It was not protected, although my tenancy was not particularly straightforward and I'd be grateful for some advice on the issue.

 

I'm finding this forum very difficult to navigate - is there a particular section I can start a thread on advice recovering a tenancy deposit?

 

Many thanks.

 

Regards

 

Mark

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Hello Everyone

 

I've just started researching how to get my deposit back from my former landlord. I'd highly appreciate any advice anybody has to offer on the issue, so I'll try and keep it as straightforward as possible.

 

Honeybee - thanks for moving the thread to the appropriate section of these forums.

 

I discovered with glee the rules regarding that since April 2007 all deposits for an assured shorthold tenancy must be held in one of the approved schemes. My deposit was not protected. However, there are some tricky caveats in my case which may or may not impinge on my rights.

 

Basic Details

 

- The rent was for a one bedroom apartment

- I moved in 11th September 2011

- I moved out 14 July 2012 (roughly ten months tenancy)

- Rent was £600 per month

- Deposit was one month's rent i.e. £600, which was paid in advance of moving in

- Minimum length of tenancy: at least 6 months, after which could terminate or move out any time with 30 days notice

 

(I’ve just read back how long the rest of my post is so will bullet point a tricky bits list here with more fuller details below it in italics for reference)

 

Tricky Details/ Further Information

 

- Paid rent and deposit in cash

- Have signed receipts for deposit and first three months rent

- No formal or written tenancy agreement

- It was technically my landlord’s principal residence, but throughout lived at his girlfriends, leaving me with virtually exclusive use of the property. This could be evidenced by the fact it is a one bedroom flat. There is a makeshift, plywood walled living area within the living room, in which my landlord stayed while renting the main room to his previous tenant, but decided when the previous tenant moved out, to rent the whole place to me and move in with his girlfriend. The room has no window or electricity, and if inspected, would almost certainly be deemed not fit for liveable accommodation

- No claims as yet for need to withhold some or all of the deposit for repairs

- No claims as yet denying I ever lived there – if he did, evidence includes: signed receipt for cash deposit; a lot of photographs on my phone of the flat; I could prove I worked nearby during my tenancy; trail of texts between us discussing the return of the deposit

- I know that my landlord did not pay income tax on his rental income, was on benefits for at least a some (or all) of the time of my tenancy and I suspect his rental earnings was not declared, and suspect that he may not have declared all his earnings from his day job (builder, electrician, handyman – cash in hand) to HMRC, or even any, should he have been on benefits throughout. This is not fully relevant but I was thinking that if I threatened to report him for this, that this may coax him into paying my deposit back (and then of course still report him anyway, because this is the right thing to do). Any thoughts?

 

 

[Now for the tricky bits. I paid my deposit and rent by cash, and there was no formal contract or agreement, only verbal, however, he said he would provide a written agreement we would both sign to the effect of the verbal agreement we'd already been over. Despite requests this was never delivered and I eventually just let it fall by the wayside. I'll admit, this was the first time I had ever moved away from my parents and my first experience renting my own place. I was offered a job in London and had very little time to find a place, and although it was old and in need of refurbishment, it was very reasonable for London prices. I viewed the property and followed up the call a few days later to agree to move in. At first I was told I could pay the deposit and monthly rent direct to my landlord's bank account. He later then told that he was having problems with his account and asked me to pay the deposit and first month’s rent in cash the day I moved in. Going forward, he asked me to pay him rent by cash instead as it was more convenient, and as at the time we had a satisfactory relationship, I had no issue with this so I did so. (After all, one could just as easily not declare income received into one’s bank account from rental income as with cash)

 

Now, to protect myself, I asked for a receipt to prove my cash payments. I have a signature for my deposit, and my first three months rent. After which, however, I naively forgot to keep asking for a receipt.

 

I gave plenty of notice and my deposit was expected to be given to me the day I moved out. This was not delivered as my landlord said he didn't have the money ready, but he would have it in a week's time for me (despite giving 5 weeks notice). A week later and more excuses. I have since moved back to the North West, and have continued contact with my landlord via text. He doesn't pick up the phone despite numerous calls (as I know he will find it difficult to come up with excuses on the spot), but have texted numerous times were I'm constantly promised the money soon, but this is usually followed by more excuses. However, I believe this is better in my circumstances as at least with texts I have a trail of communications.

 

He has not so far argued any need to deduct money from my deposit for any type of repairs. I have wondered that if I did take some form of legal action, that he may even deny my living there. I don’t of course have a written tenancy agreement, and payments weren’t to his bank account but cash. I do however have a receipt and signature for the cash deposit, many photographs of inside the flat, and a very long series of text messages back and forth between us: me asking for updates regarding the return of the deposit, and replies promising to have it soon, to call me to explain etc.

 

My landlord never stayed at the property but at his girlfriend's place. He had made a makeshift sleeping area within the living room which he did not stay in during my tenancy (with thin plywood walls erected, but no window or electricity in the 'room'; he said he stayed there while the main room was rented out to the previous tenant, but decided to move out into his girlfriend’s new place and rent the whole property to a new tenant (i.e. me) when the former tenant moved out, as the room/area was not in liveable condition). This was as far as I know his principal residence, but he lived at his girlfriend’s during my tenancy. He only had various tools (he's a builder/electrician/handyman) which from time to time he would come to collect. Even though he had his own keys/ access, he would always phone/text and ask if me for permission to return to if he needed to pickup anything work related.

 

On a slightly less relevant note, I also know this much about my landlord:

 

(i) he did not pay tax on the income from the rent of the property. I asked him this toward the end of my tenancy, as I had the gut feeling he wouldn't be returning my deposit and I wanted to catch him with something should I need to. He said he thought “it wasn’t really a big deal”.

 

(ii) I know at some point during my tenancy he was on benefits. Around the time of my moving in, he was collecting some of his belongings to move to his girlfriends, which he left in the kitchen for a few days. I did spot a Job Seekers Allowance booklet, and also a complaint letter to a welfare department regarding his benefits for his “bad back” (I swear there was nothing wrong with him). Not to pry I didn’t read his letter in full, merely came across it. However, relating to the point above, I’m very sure he did not declare any of his earnings from the rent due to the fact he did not pay income tax on it. To my knowledge you are required to declare any earnings while on any benefit, and although I can’t prove whether he did or didn’t, I certainly feel enough suspicion to be able to contact the National Benefit Fraud Hotline – I have photographs of his tools and film footage on my mobile phone of him taking his tools into his work van

 

(iii) Well by now I could reasonably guess that he may not have been declaring all (or any, for all I know) of his income tax to HMRC. Should I wish to contact HMRC based on my suspicion, I have photographs of his tools, and film footage on my mobile phone of him from my window taking tools to his van to rely on to prove he was at least working, just in case he may have been on benefits the whole time.

 

I know this section is not particularly relevant to receiving my deposit back, but recently I thought that should I need anything to coax him into returning my deposit I could threaten to report him for the above to see if that would prompt him to repay. Then of course go ahead and report him anyway, because that is the correct thing to do. Even if he would have returned my deposit in full as promised, I still would have reported him for the above.]

 

I understand I was a little unprepared for renting my first place away from home. I have certainly learned from my experience, which is at least one benefit I ever received from this arrangement.

 

Absolutely any advice would be appreciated. I would like to know what action it would be recommended to take, whether for not protecting my deposit in a scheme, or just for the return of the deposit.

 

Thanks in advance for any guidance.

 

Kind regards

 

Mark

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Hi Mark.

 

I've merged both your threads.

 
 

Any advice I give is honest and in good faith.:)

If in doubt, you should seek the opinion of a Qualified Professional.

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Help keep it up and active, helping people like you.

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If you know his address, send by registered post a letter telling that if he does not return your deposit in 14 days you will take him to court for non-protection/notification of your deposit, and under the new localism act he may be liable to compensate you for an addiotional amount of up to three times that.

As the contract was verbal, the default postion will be as thoughan AST standard contract existed with all it s rights and terms.

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Hi there

 

Yes, I know his address. I'm glad to know that despite my tenancy agreement not being so straightforward, largely with it being verbal, that I could still be protected.

 

I'll draft a letter this week.

 

So far, he hasn't budged so I will suspect that the letter will be ignored.

 

In which case, what would be the exact steps I would take to take him to court or some other form of action, in order to recoup the deposit and the possible additional compensation?

 

Many thanks

 

Mark

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Thanks very much for the assistance.

 

I wondered, if I did take it to court, would it be very formal? i.e. both of us in a courtroom giving evidence/our view, at the same time?

 

Also slightly disappointed at the lack of response to my thread. I was wondering if I could change the subject to something like How do I recover my tenancy deposit? it may get picked up easier.

 

Thanks very much for the help.

 

Mark

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Small cliams track is fairly informal, judge will review depositions and responses and ask questions etc., costs are minimal, however if you are claiming for non-notification or protection it may get put on county court fast tractk which can be costly up front and you would be liable for all costs if you lose.

You need to speak to court about track allocation and costs, or search on courts website.

you can also start an action on line using MCOL system.

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