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What can this landlord do to claim the deposit from the DPS?

VanHere is a question to the blog clinic from James who is a landlord:

My tenant vacated the property 3 days prior to her official end of contract, she did so because she had caused so much damage to the property and wanted to escape the letting agent final check.

The cost to repair the damage was in excess of £3000.00, my letting agent filed a claim with the DPS but the tenant refused to agree on using the DPS to adjudicate the claim, I have been told by my Agent that as she refuses to agree to use this service there is nothing that can be done and I can’t obtain the deposit .

We have no forwarding address since she fled and so I can’t mount a small claims court action, I do not know what else can be done!

My agent advises we can now not use the single claims process as we tried to use the adjudication process – any advice you can give would be well received.

This is of course one reason for not using the DPS – the money is only available to you if they release it.

As I am a lawyer and not a landlord or letting agent, I do not have any direct experience with using the DSP system myself so I would be grateful if anyone who does have this experience could leave a comment.

I have had a look at the DPS terms and conditions. which you will find here, and I cannot see that they specifically forbid using the single claims process in these circumstances.  So my advice would be to give it a go anyway.  You can’t be any worse off than you are now.

The other solution is to see if you can trace the tenant so you can issue legal proceedings against her.  Some tracing agents will operate on a ‘no trace no fee’ basis.  You can find firms who so this by doing a search on ‘private investigators’ in google – or your insurers may be able to recommend a firm to you.

If you are able to find an address for her and are able to get a County Court Judgement for the amount of the damage, you will then be able to apply to the court for a ‘third party payment order’ ordering the DPS to release the funds to you.

Buffer

Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.




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8 Responses to What can this landlord do to claim the deposit from the DPS?

  1. Tessa,

    Many thanks for answering my questions, in the end we did pursue the single claims process and the DPS are in the process of releasing the deposit to me. It will still be £1800 less than the damage caused but pleased about the result and restored my faith in the system.

  2. I have used the single claim process three times and got back 100% of the deposit each time (one of which I was told I was highly unlikely to get any of the deposit back by the agent). I can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be able to initiate the single claim process due to the tenant being unwilling if the deposit is still being held by the DPS.

    The most important thing is to include an abundance of evidence showing all of the damage caused compared to when the tenant moved into the property (ideally include a check in and a check out report to show before and after); plenty of photographic evidence.

    I would also pursue a small claim against the tenant (for any amount on top of the deposit) to cover the damage costs by using a tracing service, I did this and the company found my tenant at a new address within two days for just £45 and I was then able to go through the courts to get an attachment of earnings order.

  3. One quick question – if your ex-Tenant was able to say “no” to arbitration then the DPS must have been able to contact her (at a guess via the alternate address provided at deposit time).

    That might well be a start point for your claim on the rest of the damage (via a tracing service, if needed).

    You will need to think carefully about whether it is worthwhile though – does she have any assets or income to recover from?

    Please also add her to landlordreferencing.co.uk to help build this crowd sourced database of bad tenants (and check it next time before letting).

  4. I note your comment re DPS advantages/disadvantages Tessa but an even bigger danger for an agent is releasing money to a Landlord, then the tenant raises a dispute and the landlord cannot be found. The agent would be the one who had to pay in the disputed amount.

    This case demonstrates one of the massive advantages of using DPS, the single claim process which only applies to DPS. if the tenant is uncontactable then you swear a Stat Dec for £7.50 I think and give this to DPS who will try to contact the tenant, give it two weeks and then pay you out.

    Difference is tenant may respond to DPS, in which case the single claim fails.

  5. Steve

    Tenant (or Landlord) only needs to say “no” to the other party or agent – not DPS – though they may indeed say no to them as well.

    If they have kiss goodbye to single claim process

  6. Hi Tessa,

    I’ve used the DPS service since 2008 it’s single claim process is fairly robust.

    You mention about getting a trace agent to find a tenant that has left in the small hours of the night. In the Prescribed Information the document used for the deposit , there is a requirement to fill in an “address & contact details that can be used at the end of the tenancy” so a trace agent would be needed if this part was completed diligently in the first place.

    The key to get a money order for deposit claims is to ensure the judge mentions the deposit in the order who it is protected with and in the case of the DPS states the unique deposit ID code.

    I have known landlords get money orders without this being mentioned and used it as proof with there single claim notice to then be told by the DPS “it can’t release the deposit due to it not being mentioned in the money order” Very frustrating indeed!

    I did a blog for the DPS a whole back with your permission may a post a link it’s all about avoiding deposit disputes although I appreciate it’s not actually about this post entirely thought it may be helpful?

  7. You are absolutely right! “I cannot see that they specifically forbid using the single claims process in these circumstances. So my advice would be to give it a go anyway. You can’t be any worse off than you are now.” I have also found this information. “At the end of the Tenancy, the Landlord and Tenant should attempt to agree the basis for repayment of the Deposit to the Landlord, Tenant or the Third Party (if any) and complete a Joint Repayment Form recording this agreement. The Deposit including any interest accrued will be paid out by The DPS in accordance with the Joint Repayment Form within 10 calendar days. If a Landlord has no current address for the Tenant or the Tenant fails to respond to the Landlord’s written notice requiring that the Landlord be paid some or all of the Deposit within 14 calendar days of the end of the Tenancy, the Landlord may follow the Single Claim Process.” These are DPS terms and conditions. So maybe it’ll be the way out to this problem.

  8. @ Kevin
    Two problems here. At a guess 50% at least of PI forms dleave the contact address blanks.

    Second it is often a transient address, like a friend or similar.

    @ MaryAnn

    I can assure that no matter what the DPS website says the difference between uncontactable and uncooperative is massive and critical. I have just dealt with such a case where the tenant’s whereabouts are known they simply refuse ADR and won’t have the means to go to Court. So the Landlord will have to raise the Court claim which if the agent is to be believed (and they have masses of evidence) will result in a 100% award to them.

    DPS has confirmed to me that unfortunately that is all the LL can do as the tenant is contactable, just uncooperative. So the single claim system cannot be used




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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th 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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