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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 if your deposit was protected with one of the four authorised protection schemes please?
From what you say the landlord has not given any explanation of the reason for the delay?
The deposit was paid to Montagues - a well established rental agency in Essex - we signed the contract (I don't have it to hand) but I can remember that the clauses relating to the deposit seemed satisfactory - i.e. held in an authorised protection scheme as opposed to the landlord personally.
We have had no response from the landlord to either our emails or telephone messages. we are in contact with the estate agent who has also explained to the landlord what his responsibilities are under the deposit scheme, and who has advised us to "take the matter further".
The first step is to establish whether your deposit has actually been protected. From what you say this tenancy (whatever the document you signed called itself) would have been an assured shorthold tenancy. ASTs require among other things that the landlord protects your deposit in an approved protection scheme under the provisions of the Housing Act as amended by the Localism Act. The landlord must supply you with details of the protection scheme used within 30 days of your paying it.
If you are uncertain whether it is protected, you can check online with one of the four schemes that it could be registered with - they all have online search facilities (the Capita scheme is new and as yet has a small share of the market):http://www.mydeposits.co.uk/tenants/get-started/check-your-deposithttps://www.depositprotection.com/is-my-deposit-protectedhttps://www.thedisputeservice.co.uk/is-my-deposit-registered.htmlhttps://www.capita-tdp.co.uk/
If it has not been protected 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. The deposit must be returned to you in full without deduction if the landlord has not protected it and you must receive at least the amount of the deposit in compensation (up to three times at the judges discretion as above).
He did not provide us with the information relating to the protection scheme, but we did sign the AST document as you say. Should I write to him again and if so, what should I say in order to try to encourage a response?
If it has been protected then you do not have a claim for compensation in the above manner but you can write to the landlord advising that you are disappointed that he has not responded to your request for a return of the deposit and that it has not been returned in a reasonable time (or if your tenancy agreement provided for a time frame which they often can, that date) and ask him to confirm whether he is prepared to use the free deposit resolution service provided by the relevant scheme member within 10 days failing which you will have little option but to issue proceedings in the county court to which you will add court costs and statutory interest at 8% on the deposit from the date it should have been returned.
thank you for your advice
I wrote to our Landlord and asked A. to confirm which protection scheme was used for our deposit as I could not find any record through searches, and B. if he was prepared to sue the free deposit resolution service.
His response was that he was doing his "final inspection" of the property last Wednesday (over one month after the inventory check-out was completed). I have not heard from him since.
I would like to issue court proceedings but have no idea how to go about this?