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How can this tenant get her deposit back?

FlatsHere is a question to the blog clinic from Rose who is a tenant

My boyfriend and I moved into a flat in June 2011, our tenancy went less than smoothly and eventually in November 2012 we received notice that the property had gone into receivership because the landlord had not paid his mortgage.

Two months later, the new agents served us notice because the property was going to be sold. We were disappointed but accepted the situation.

However, when we enquired about our deposit, the new agents acting on behalf of the receiver said they had no record of it and to make matters worse, the agent who moved us in has now gone out of business.

The new agent has asked us for a deposit registration certificate but we do not have one, just an email from the original agent confirming the amount.

We have now moved out and still have no deposit returned, the new agents won’t help and have denied any responsibility. How do we get our deposit back?

Unless your landlord or the original agent protected your deposit Rose, I suspect that you will never get it back.

I suggest you contact each of the four tenancy deposit companies in turn and see if the deposit was protected with them.  You will find their details >> here on my Tenancy Deposit Claims website.

If your deposit has been protected, then the scheme helpline will explain to you what you need to do to get your money back.

If the deposit was not protected then it will be a lot more difficult and you will probably have to accept that you will never get it back.

If the original landlord has not gone bankrupt you can bring a claim against him personally. You can also, if the agent who  actually took the money was not a limited company, bring a claim against him or her – if you know where they are and if they have not gone bankrupt.

For guidance on how to bring a claim against any of these people, if you are able to locate them, have a word with your local CAB.

This case should be a warning to all tenants – be aware of your rights and insist, when paying a deposit over to a landlord or his agent, that they protect the money in a scheme.

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4 Responses to How can this tenant get her deposit back?

  1. And this is the great joke about deposit protection law, if you don’t protect it and go bust, you won’t be able to afford to give the money back, but chances are going to court will just be an extra piece of paper saying you owe money to someone that can be ignored.

    Yet, if you don’t protect yet you finish the tenancy and still have the money and don’t want to give it back, no problem, stick it in a deposit scheme even after the tenancy because you still won’t be fined the penalty, even with localism act 2011 alterations because Judges don’t care about deposits or prescribed information.

    The best advice I now give is, don’t bother paying your last months rent if you’ve already got somewhere else to live lined up, let them take the rent from your deposit because chances are they’ll steal it anyways, at least you’ll have covered most of your lost if your deposit wasn’t much higher than your deposit because you can’t trust even the most ‘nicest’ of landlords in the end.

  2. I disagree with Peter Fox,

    Once the money is in the scheme (even if it is paid in late) you can use the arbitration schemes. From a getting your money back point of view it may take longer but you should get it back (minus any deductions the third party deems reasonable.

    The penalties on the landlord for late payment may be more difficult to reclaim but that’s a separate matter.

    Not paying your last months rent is like doing a runner in a restaurant.

    Yes you can do it but it’s still wrong.

    After a number of tenant’s pulling this one (and leaving the properties requiring remedial work) I’ve switched to 6 weeks deposit. Which is a pain for incoming tenants as it’s a another 2 weeks cash upfront.

    An don’t forget that not paying the last month’s rent will get mentioned in any referencing.

  3. @Beebee I agree – if the deposit is in a scheme there is no excuse for tenants to withhold any of their rent.

    If the landlord has NOT protected it in a scheme, then its a different matter …



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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