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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.
There is no statutory law that sets out how long the landlord has to return the deposit. Some tenancy agreements set out a timetable which the landlord agrees to in its terms; the deposit protection schemes each have their own timetables which the scheme requires the parties to adhere to but there is no specific penalty for their not doing so.
The lack of an inventory is problematic for the landlord. If the landlord has no inventory decisions in the courts have repeatedly shown that in the absence of an admission from the tenant on a specific point the landlord can rarely be successful. From what you say here the tenant does admit that he removed the bushes so the above issue is to some extent overcome. However there is an argument as to the state of the bushes (disease etc) which again in the absence of an inventory is going to be difficult for the landlord to rebut. The expert evidence is of limited value as he is a relative but the landlord will not be able to show that the bushes were not diseased if the tenant says they were without an inventory and this is a fundamental problem for the landlord.
If the tenant is unhappy with the amount of time the landlord proposes to take to resolve the matter, he can either submit a claim to ADR at DPS or if he prefers or if the landlord refuses to use ADR, issue a claim in the small claims court to recover the deposit. In either event as above the lack of an inventory is likely to be extremely prejudicial to the landlords position. I will not go as far as to say the landlord cannot be successful given the tenants admission re the bushes but in my view he would be unlikely to succeed in defending a claim for the return of the deposit in the absence of an inventory.
Your proposal to split the cost is certainly worth a try in terms of a compromise but this is obviously up to the parties to agree upon. If the tenant digs his heels in, as above, in my view the tenant is likely to be able to recover his deposit if he claims the bushes were diseased etc if the matter proceeded to court or ADR as the landlord would have to prove they were not in order to seek damages for the bushes removed.
ADR is as you will be aware free of charge. Small claims court is relatively costs effective though not free. The costs depend on the amount involved. The costs can be found using the below link - -see pages 3 and 5
In general terms the landlords failure to obtain an inventory is frequently fatal to any claim for deductions for a deposit unless the landlord can obtain an admission from the tenant as regards XXXXX XXXXX caused. Here he has an admission as to removal but faces the problem that the tenant claims bushes were diseased. Unless the landlord can find a way of showing that they were not diseased on the balance of probability he will struggle to recover monies for the replacement of the bushes as diseased bushes are of no financial value.
Your comments are very much in sync with our thoughts and advice. Clearly the landlords were and are still emotionally attached to their tudor styled rose garden however it begs the question given the cost to restore why save in the 1st place on the cost of a professional independent inventory?!
Thank you for answer very clearly. The position seems very clear to us. We can only advise the landlord accordingly and hope they see sense in the merit of our proposal.
Very helpful response indeed! Have a great bank holiday weekend!
Quite so. I think all you can say to the landlord is the lack of a professionally prepared inventory is at best likely to severly hamper any claim in the absence of a full admission from the tenant and more often than not will preclude a claim altogether.
Accordingly whilst negotiation on the point is worthwhile, they should only proceed to court if they are willing to gamble court fees on the point.
If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do not hesitate to revert to me
Will do. Thanks again!
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