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Left Tenancy early with permission from LL, didn't protect deposit and isn't returning it.


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Hi,

 

Got a bit of a fiddly situation here so I will try my best to summarise clearly for everyone.

 

I moved into a flat (from Spareroom) on the 1st June 2016 (tenancy expired on 30th November 2016), I found it a month or so before and they wanted a £300 (cash) holding deposit as they don't take card. I was moving out of London a few days after and was in the middle of exams and I knew I needed a place so (stupidly) I paid it in cash and went for it.

 

Thankfully it all seemed legit, got the keys on the first and again had to pay my first months rent and the deposit via bank transfer in their office (Rent £940 + Deposit £940 + Admin £149 - Holding Fee £300 = £1729). I paid it got my keys and moved in.

 

I asked about the deposit scheme etc over the next days where I was told "don't worry it's protected". This is where I started finding it all to get weird. Speaking to the existing flatmates, none of them received any TDS numbers or anything. I kept asking just to get the same response.

 

So 3 months go by, after hearing nothing I knew I wanted to claim. However a friend had a room their flat which was over the road and was perfect for me so I started enquiring about leaving the tenancy early etc, and I got 3 options. Find my replacement and I pay half a month of rent, they find a replacement and I pay a full month or rent, or I just pay the remaining rent and leave. I tried for a month to find my replacement which brought me to September to no avail. I then emailed saying "Is there a possibility I could leave and you could keep my deposit?" which got a reply of "I will keep trying to rent your room, keep paying as normal" so no confirmation that they would take my suggestion of keeping my deposit.

 

Knowing that they haven't protected my deposit I asked them again "I can't find anything about my deposit in the TDS" in which they replied with "The money you paid for the deposit will be used to pay for the final month of the tenancy". Is this even allowed? My contract says: "Security - £940 to be paid on the signing hereof to the agent for the landlord to be dealt Within accordance. This security deposit will be used to pay your last month rent, then 30 days notice is served" (that's the exact wording, notice the bad spelling/grammar).

 

I then followed up with them with the standard "Within accordance of the law, it is your duty to protect my deposit in a TDS" in which they said the manager will call me. I spoke to the manager (who is also the Landlord, I think this is pretty important) on the phone and they pretty much said "Don't worry you can leave the contract and i'll adjust the deposit". I thought screw it, I'll take that and then approach the deposit after I have confirmation I can leave so I asked for the email confirmation and they sent over the following: "As advised please do not pay your rent on 1st October 2016. Please then returning the keys this Saturdays drop me a text, then keys are left at the concierge.

You are released from 6 months contract as per conversation with [Landlord Name], no further payments are required."

 

I took this as pretty concrete evidence that I can leave, so I did. Moved into my new place and I'm happy here.

 

Now I want to claim back my 'protected' deposit. I emailed the manager saying what's happening to the deposit and that I'm happy to not pursue this in court if it is returned back in full and I gave them a time frame to do so. He replied with "you broke your tenancy etc and that they will chase up the remaining payments". Unless I accepted a £500 return of deposit. When I spoke to him on the phone before he offered £500 deposit back which I said no to and that I'll be chasing up the full deposit. He has also reassured me that "Danny from accounts has said your deposit is protected" which is incorrect given what his colleague told me before.

 

Basically I just want my deposit back, multiple people have mentioned that I can claim between 1-3x the deposit, I do not mind what I claim as long as I get my initial deposit back. Almost a year after moving in I still haven't seen a sign of it, and I don't think the other tenants have either.

 

Do you think that leaving the tenancy early may hinder my chances as claiming this deposit back? I believe they are separate matters, I believe that he had ill intentions with the deposit by choosing to manage it himself and no protect it, which seems like it has broken all of his responsibilities. But also a separate matter of leaving the tenancy early where I suggested that they could possibly keep the deposit, which not reciprocated, but then got an email after the phone call which clearly stated when I could leave and who gave permission and also that no further payments are required.

 

Sorry for the wall of text, it has been a complicated and stressful process and any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks so much,

Buneet

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A question I also had was, seeing as my contract says that the "Security deposit" would be used as my last month of rent, does this not need to be protected? Does this count as rent in advance or a deposit? It's unclear to me. Does this completely invalidate my claim?

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Hi

 

You say you found this on Spareroom.

 

Could you clarify if you were renting the flat or renting a room in the flat?

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Hi

 

You say you found this on Spareroom.

 

Could you clarify if you were renting the flat or renting a room in the flat?

 

Renting a room, the contract is an AST.

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Hi

 

Thanks for that clarification.

 

Is it possible that you could type out that specific clause in your AST referring to your Security/Deposit?

 

https://www.gov.uk/tenancy-deposit-protection/overview

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Sure, this is the only clause in the deposit regarding a security deposit: "Security - £940 to be paid on the signing hereof to the agent for the landlord to be dealt Within accordance. This security deposit will be used to pay your last month rent, then 30 days notice is served"

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the contract isnt an AST. It may be a contract but it isnt an AST so deposit scheme isnt relevant I'm afraid. In short, you may be entitled to some money back under the agreement you signed but no statute to protect you or your deposit. You need to get all of this down in a coherent manner and put it to them in writing regarding what was actually agreed at the time of leaving as this variation of the contract by mutual consent overrides the rest of the document. The tell them how much you think is owed and let them know that you expect the money to be paid within say 14 days or you will take action to recover the same.

No more phone calls, in writing only so if they phone you do not discuss it but tell them the same.

Renting a room, the contract is an AST.
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the contract isnt an AST. It may be a contract but it isnt an AST so deposit scheme isnt relevant I'm afraid. In short, you may be entitled to some money back under the agreement you signed but no statute to protect you or your deposit. You need to get all of this down in a coherent manner and put it to them in writing regarding what was actually agreed at the time of leaving as this variation of the contract by mutual consent overrides the rest of the document. The tell them how much you think is owed and let them know that you expect the money to be paid within say 14 days or you will take action to recover the same.

No more phone calls, in writing only so if they phone you do not discuss it but tell them the same.

 

Thanks for the response, apologies for the slow reply I have been away for a couple of days.

 

The contract is titled as an AST. It looks like one of those generated online. The landlords 'company' specialises in renting these rooms out, why would this not be an AST in this case?

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Who is the LL?

 

Sorry for the slow reply, I have been away for a couple of days.

 

The LL is also the manager of this 'company' based in London Docklands. They are a limited company which you can find that he has multiple companies under similar names which vary frequently.

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because an AST is for an entire property, not a room. You must acquaint yourself with the law or you will find yourself in this position again. I suspect that the LL is partially reliant upon your ignorance to get away with things to start off with, once you quote chapter and verse he will be more likely to listen to your reasoning

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because an AST is for an entire property, not a room. You must acquaint yourself with the law or you will find yourself in this position again. I suspect that the LL is partially reliant upon your ignorance to get away with things to start off with, once you quote chapter and verse he will be more likely to listen to your reasoning

 

Are you 100% sure on this...? With all due respect,everything I've seen online has said an AST can be on a room too. https://m.spareroom.co.uk/content/info-flatsharing/rights-for-renters-for-tenants-and-lodgers

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As mariner says, an AST can be for a room only. The contract I use was obtained from a legitimate landlords' organisation. It specifies a room for exclusive use and shared areas.

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I was wrong, AST's are used for agreements in HMO's and deposits covered by the statutory scheme. Beware of any other type of room let though

Apologies for misleading.

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Thanks for clarifying everyone.

 

Just steering the thread back to the original questions... What do people think of that taking money in advance for the last month of rent part?

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Was your room in the LLs home in which he resided?

If so, you were prob a lodger and AST has no effect.

Your only option is prob sue LL via MCoL for return of your deposit, LL can counter claim for any rent owing.

When did you occupy the room and for how long? Any min fixed term agreed?

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LL owns multiple flats. This is his business, buys flats and rents rooms. He was not living in the property so I believe the AST stands.

 

From the Op I occupied from June 2016 until start of Oct 2016, contract says it ends on the 30th November. Even with a fully written out permission email from them to say that I can leave and no further payments are required, can they still persue the rest of the rent?

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It's a 3 bed flat in a modern new tower block in London Docklands. Not sure if it is a HMO (does it need to be with a 3 bed?). My room was an ensuite, the sitting area was originally joined with the kitchen but the LL converted it to a bedroom so he put up a stud wall.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi buneet

 

Sorry you haven't had reply I am sure caggers will be along.

 

As you are wondering if this could be an HMO have a look at this link: https://www.gov.uk/private-renting/houses-in-multiple-occupation

 

I would also contact the local council for the area the property stated is in and see if it is registered with the local council.

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I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

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No worries stu.

 

I will take a look into the HMO side of things as well as checking if it's registered with the local council, thanks for that suggestion.

 

Do you (or anyone else) have any ideas about the whole 'rent for your final month' thing? It seems like a grey area online and I'm unable to find any concrete law on it. Many people are saying that it is okay only when rent in advance is only used for a specific period.

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It's a 3 bed flat in a modern new tower block in London Docklands. Not sure if it is a HMO (does it need to be with a 3 bed?). My room was an ensuite, the sitting area was originally joined with the kitchen but the LL converted it to a bedroom so he put up a stud wall.

 

I would also look into whether he has permission to put in a stud wall. His lease may not allow it or even sub letting. Not much use in your claim apart from the fact you could threaten to report him if he does not pay what is due.

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