Here is a question to the blog clinic from Larry (not his real name) who is a tenant.
Hi, I signed a lease on 1 Oct 2011 and the deposit was never returned to me. Have I missed the deadline to make a claim, please? I have been told I can claim within 6 years but having looked at the legislation I cannot see where this is written.
The law regarding the time limit for bringing claims is set out in an act called the Statute of Limitations. This act sets out time periods within which you can bring court proceedings for different types of claim.
Your deposit was paid under a contract. The limitation period for contractual claims is six years. The time runs from the date when the claim arose.
So, in your case, the time limit will run, not from the date when the lease was signed, but the date by which the landlord was supposed to return the deposit, i.e. the date when the landlord was first in breach of his obligation to return the money to you.
The exact date will depend on the terms of your contract and probably also the terms of the deposit scheme. However, let us say it was 1 October 2013. You will then have six years from that date to bring a claim, and so will need to file your paperwork at the court not later than 30 September 2019.
If a claim is brought after the limitation period has expired, lawyers describe it as being ‘statute barred’ and the defendant can defend and get the claim thrown out on that basis.
Mind you, this does not mean that the money is not due at all – it just means that you have lost your chance to bring a claim for it through the courts. So if you are able to claim it back in some other way – for example offsetting it against money you owe the landlord, this is (so far as I am aware) still allowable.