How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Joshua Your Own Question

Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
35043042
Type Your Law Question Here...
Joshua is online now

Hi I have a flat in Hertfordshire. I live in Middlesex. My

Resolved Question:

Hi

I have a flat in Hertfordshire. I live in Middlesex.

My estate agent who found me a tenant took my deposit and registered it with Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). I received a certificate for it.

12 months later the estate agent went into liquidation and opened under a new name. One of the original partners remained in the business. I received a letter to inform me that the business name had changed.

12 months later my tenant is leaving and wants his deposit back.

I have tried to contact the estate agent however the shop is empty and their phone numbers are not working. I contacted TDS who informed me that 12 months ago (when the original agent went into liquidation) they wrote to my tenant to ask him to send a form back to secure his deposit. They gave him 3 months to respond. I've spoken to him and he has ignored the letter. I had no knowledge of this.

I have no way of contacting the estate agent. Am I liable to pay this deposit now?
Any help you can give me will be much appreciated.

Thanks
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

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.

Joshua :

May I ask if the agent was a limited company or a partnership please?

Joshua :

Did the agent keep deposit and rent etc in a separate client account or in their business account?

Customer:

Limited company.

Customer:

I don't know which account they used for the deposit.

Joshua :

Thanks. There is potential for significant difficulty here and further investigation will be required with the administrators of the company.

Joshua :

TDS is an insurance based protection fund not a deposit based fund. This means deposits are protected not by actually transferring money to the deposit protection fund but by way of an insurance policy. This is compliant with the law but leaves landlords exposed in the event that the agent holds the deposit and goes bust; the tenant will be covered by the insurance and would receive back his deposit if appropriate but TDS would then come after you as landlord to recover.

Joshua :

The first step is to contact the administrators / liquidators of the company to see whether a separate client account was maintained. This is a requirement of ARLA and other lettings codes of practice though not all agents are members. If a separate client account was maintained for the deposit then you can make a claim against it for the deposit. If there was a client account but it was raided then the director or directors may be personally liable to you.

Joshua :

If there was no client account then unfortunately the position could be rather bleak. You would in these circumstances be limited to making a claim as an unsecured creditor with the liquidators which is unlikely to recover the full deposit.

Joshua :

Where using an agent, particularly a limited company, consider in future insisting on use of DPS which requires actual transfer of funds into their account or that the deposit is held by you and you will make arrangements for protection.

Customer:

How do I find out who the administrators are? I have no way of contacting the agent at all.

Customer:

Also in the meantime do I have to pay the deposit to the tenant out of my own money?

Customer:

Seems unfair considering that he ignored the letter.

Joshua :

The administrators can be located by going to Companies House and typing in the name of the company. The administrators or liquidators will be shown on the company page.

Joshua :

http://wck2.companieshouse.gov.uk//wcframe?name=accessCompanyInfo

Joshua :

Notwithstanding any deductions you propose to make for damage unfortunately you are liable for the repayment of the deposit as the agents principal (i.e. client). You can dispute any amounts you disgagree with the tenant in terms of damage deduction and still use the TDS service for resolution in the usual way.

Joshua :

This sort of situation is very unfair on landlords who behave entirely properly and in good faith. In future you can protect yourself armed with the above approaches re deposit but it doesn't help retrospectively.

Joshua :

However you may find that the agent did maintain a separate client account so it is not time to despair quite yet. Contact with the liquidators is crucial as soon as possible

Joshua :

Is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

No I think I understand. Thank you.

Joshua :

A pleasure. I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX obtain some good news from the liquidators and in any event ensure that you protect yourself in the above manner from ever being exposed to this risk in the future. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do no hesitate to let me know.

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with though please reply back to me though.

Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25358
Experience: LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
Joshua and other Law Specialists are ready to help you

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Thank you so much for your help. Your answers were really useful and came back so quickly. Great! Maggie
< Previous | Next >
  • Thank you so much for your help. Your answers were really useful and came back so quickly. Great! Maggie
  • A quick response, a succinct and helpful answer in simple English. I believe I can now confront the counter party with confidence -- worth the 30 bucks! Rick
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C.
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP
  • I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion. Justin
  • Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around. Esther
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Jo C.

    Jo C.

    Barrister

    Satisfied Customers:

    30316
    Over 5 years in practice
< Previous | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/EM/emus/2015-7-7_192327_bigstockportraitofconfidentfemale.64x64.jpg Jo C.'s Avatar

    Jo C.

    Barrister

    Satisfied Customers:

    30316
    Over 5 years in practice
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/BE/benjones/2015-12-1_0437_ennew.64x64.jpg Ben Jones's Avatar

    Ben Jones

    UK Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    11553
    Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/BU/Buachaill/2012-5-25_211156_barrister5.64x64.jpg Buachaill's Avatar

    Buachaill

    Barrister

    Satisfied Customers:

    1754
    Barrister 17 years experience
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/JO/jojobi/2013-3-19_0265_maxlowryphoto.64x64.jpg Max Lowry's Avatar

    Max Lowry

    Advocate

    Satisfied Customers:

    894
    LLB, 10 years post qualification experience
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/UK/UKLawyer/2012-4-12_9849_F2.64x64.jpg UK_Lawyer's Avatar

    UK_Lawyer

    Solicitor

    Satisfied Customers:

    750
    I am a qualified solicitor and an expert in UK law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/KA/Kasare/kasare.64x64.jpg Kasare's Avatar

    Kasare

    Solicitor

    Satisfied Customers:

    402
    Solicitor, 10 yrs plus experience in civil litigation, employment and family law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.co.uk/uploads/OS/osh/2015-7-7_19268_gettyimagesb.64x64.jpg Joshua's Avatar

    Joshua

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8199
    LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice