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Missnka

Estate agent kept holding deposit. Letter before action or Property Ombudsman?

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Hello and happy new year!

 

I have recently noticed from my bank statements that in 2011, a deposit for a flat was never paid back.

 

It was £400 holding deposit, £50+VAT admin fee and the rest and £87+VAT referencing.

 

The contract I have on email states non-refundable if the letting is 'frustrated', and defines that as, if credit info is withheld from the application OR if I cancel the letting.

 

The agent actually cancelled the letting, and no referencing was carried out because I checked with the referencing agency. So I did not 'frustrate' anything and never moved in. Yet all the money was kept.

 

I was planning on writing a letter before action for the full amount of £565(approx) plus 8% interest from 2011, and giving 2 weeks/10 working days to repay. (I went to the Property Ombudsman website and if I go through them the process looks to be much longer and more complicated). So hopefully this can all be resolved in a couple of weeks.

 

Is this the best course of action? Thank you for reading!

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as you have only just noticed the lack of repayment you had better just send a letter asking for all of the money back. if they dont respond or prevaricate then you send a lba. If they still dont pay up then you issue a claim via the courts service and then you can add the statutory interest. Until that point unless you entered into a different type of agreement then no interest is due to you as you have only just become aware of the lack of payment. If they had witheld it all that time and you had asked for it previously then interest at bank base rate would be the norm.

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Before starting court action make sure that the business is still active (companies house website) and if it is a limited company your contract/paperwork actually says "limited" or "ltd".

Without this wording the paperwork cannot be linked to the limited company and they would use that as their defence.

So if that's the case you would have to go after whomever signed the paperwork personally.

Of course you better check that they have assets first, otherwise you would just throw money away.

In other words you have to do a bit of homework before you do anything.

BTW, I don't think you can ask for 8% interest at this stage, but surely you can if it goes to court.

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Why did OP not move in?

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Thank you for your replies. They are much appreciated.

 

It is a chain estate agents so they are definitely still in business.

 

As it was such a long time ago I feel like a letter asking for my money back would say the exact same thing as a letter before action. They may even ask for more info, which I would prefer not to give just in case it goes to court and I need to withold info for my defence.

 

And I was never given any legitimate reason for not being allowed to move in, and nothing on email. (Although I have a very strong suspicion). Yet I am able to prove that I sent emails asking why and was ignored.

 

So at this point perhaps I should just send the letter before action.

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It sounds like an improbable situation to be rejected from a property and then to not notice that you'd never been paid back!

 

Have you asked them for the money before?

 

If not, personally I think a letter out of the blue which may land on the desk of someone who wasn't involved may put that person's back up and make them less likely to respond constructively.

 

In particular, asking for 8% interest at this point could be regarded as unacceptable by them. For info a friend of mine was recently awarded only 4% by a judge on the basis that interest rates are low, and apparently this is relatively normal.

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Hi Steve, thanks for your input. Yes I understand that I am not able to ask for any interest at this stage.

 

I do however have emails, contracts and payment proof. Enough for them to hopefully see that I did not frustrate the letting and look into the fact that I was never refunded.

 

(It was a stressful time for various reasons so I did not remember the refund. And I was checking my past bank statements regarding PPI, thats how I noticed.)

 

Any contact is effectively 'out of the blue'. I'm not sure how I could ensure they definitely would respond constructively.

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If they ask for more information and you withold it you will lose a court claim as you have to "show a clean pair of hands". As suggested, just an ordinay letter asking for the matter to be looked into and resolved quickly will be the first step. If they dotn respod or deny the money is due etc then you can make it more formal but you will have to explain yourself properly.

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Ok I understand. Thank you for the advice. I'll start drafting the initial letter.

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