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I rented a flat in london through a legitimate online rental website. I am now in dispute with the landlord regarding return of my deposit. What legal rights do I have without a formal signed contract ? I have email evidence of our informal contract, receipt for deposit and evidence of notice to move out as well as confirmation that the deposit would be returned to me.
Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.
May I ask was this a short holiday let or a longer term rental please?
I stayed for 18 months.
Thanks. When did the tenancy begin (roughly is fine) and end?
June 2012 to Dec 2013
Thanks. Finally have you received confirmation that your deposit is protected in an authorised protection scheme?
No I dont think it was
Thanks. Your deposit should have been protected within 30 days of your having paid it to the landlord as required by the Housing Act. The Housing Act was amended by the Localism Act which came into force in April 2012 which provided that if the deposit was not protected within 30 days of receipt then this is a breach of the legislation and the landlord must repay the same, irrespective of damage to the property, together with between 1 and 3 times the amount in compensation (at a judges discretion), being the penalty for non compliance. If you are uncertain whether it is protected, you can check online with one of the four schemes that it could be registered with:
If it has not been protected as you suspect then you can issue a claim in the county court for the return of your deposit and a claim for up to three times the amount in compensation (judge has discretion as to whether to award between 1 and 3 times compensation depending upon landlord's conduct) under the provisions of the Housing Act as amended by the Localism Act as above.
The simplest way to issue proceedings is using www.moneyclaim.gov.uk
If it has not been protected the court will order the return of the deposit and at least the same amount again in compensation (this is the minimum). It can award up to 3 times the deposit in compensation depending upon the landlords conduct.
Is there anything above I can clarify for you?
Thats good but does this still apply even if there is no signed contract ?
I have evidence I lived there and paid rent.
Absolutely. Providing you had sole occupation of the flat and did not share it with the landlord or the landlord provide services to you such as regular cleaning or food and you paid rent then regardless of the lack of documentation this would be deemed to be an assured shorthold tenancy by virtue of the Housing Act.
You will need to be able to evidence the tenancy by your rent payments and utility payments, council tax etc and any emails you have agreeing the tenancy.
Providing you can show the above the arrangement is an AST and the above rules apply. A court does not decide a tenancy based on what a document calls itself or here because of the lack of a document. A tenancy is determined by the actual situation.
Ok so I'll make a final request again and then file a claim in court
Exactly so. If the deposit has not been protected providing you have the above evidence of a tenancy (as above) the claim should be straightforward.
Does the above answer all your questions or is there anything I can clarify or help you with any further?
No thats all. Thanks.
A pleasure. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me