Here is a question to the blog clinic from Bruce on behalf of a friend
My friend had a tenancy with a National Franchise. The initial Agreement was for 6 months and they insisted she renew every 6 months being unwilling to grant a longer period and charge £40 each time.
She found a council house and wanted to leave early but they insisted on charging her rent until a new tenant was found. Now she has moved out two months before the end they are insisting on charging her a release fee of £200 plus Vat.
In the paperwork they have sent her is a copy of a Particulars of the Deposit Scheme which she was asked to sign in 2010 showing it is lodged with the DPS scheme. This paper states it is giving her the statutory information they need to but there is no scheme rules attached or details of what to do if she disputes any deductions.
My questions would be this:
1. If they have not reprotected the Deposit each time she has renewed can they legally make any deductions from it?
2. If they have not provided the scheme rules at all let alone at each renewal is it a valid deposit?
3. If as it would appear they have not reprotected the last time how does she go about making a claim against the Agent for failing to protect the deposit correct;ly in accordance with the Housing Act?
4. Are they entitled to make a charge which is shown in the Agreement for a release fee of the full amount of £200 + vat when there is only two months remaining and it seems an excessive amount. If it is to cover the Landlords reletting cost surely it should be done on a sliding scale as he would have had to pay the full fee anyway in May. Is there anyone she can complain to about unfair charges?
Your help and comments would be appreciated.
My answers are as follows:
1. They may be able to, but this would be offset against the penalty which your friend is entitled to claim for non protection of the deposit
2. It sounds to me as if they have not complied with the deposit regulations – your friend is in a good position as they will now have no defence to a claim for the penalty
3. She would need to make a claim through the County Court. I discuss the procedure on this old post here. However now the regulations have changed your friend may be able to find a firm of solicitors willing to offer a no win no fee.
4. It sounds as if it could be an unfair term in the tenancy agreement. She can complain to the Office of Fair Trading or any Trading Standards office.