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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44921
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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There, I have sent a £800 deposit to an estate agent

Customer Question

Hi there,
I have sent a £800 deposit to an estate agent company in order to secure an apartment prior to ;oving in. The apartment in question was a total rip-off, dirty, dark etc., so I decided to withdraw.
The estate agent left me no choice but visiting another place which was not more satisfactory.
Consequently I asked for the funds to be reimbursed, and the estate agent just replied that it would be impossible because the apartment was held for me (without my consent though)
What should I do?
Thanks for your help
Nicolas Bischoff
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Dos you have a written agreement which said they can do that?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and will get back to you as soon as possible. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Many thanks for your patience. Generally, when a person pays a deposit for something they enter into a legally enforceable contract with the other side. It is implied that they have accepted the deposit as security and as proof that you want to proceed with the contract.

Unless they subsequently commit a serious breach of contract, or there was a cancellation clause, you would have no legal right to cancel the agreement and if you do so you will be acting in breach of contract and risk losing your deposit.

However, if this was a business party, such as an estate agent, they will be subject to certain consumer rules and regulations. For example, you will have some protection under Schedule 2, Regulation 1(d) of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. It states that if the contract has been cancelled after a deposit has been placed you are entitled to have the deposit returned in full, unless they have spent time, effort and money, in which case they can deduct reasonable expenses. Even if some expenses have been incurred, if these are subsequently recovered, for example by letting the flat to someone else, the deposit should still be returned in full. It follows that a blanket non-refundable clause that entitles them to keep the deposit in all circumstances is most likely going to be unfair and unlawful.

If you are having difficulties in recovering the deposit when you believe you are entitled to have it returned, advise the estate agent that you will not hesitate reporting them to the Office of Fair Trading and, if necessary, pursue the matter further through the county court. Exerting such pressure could often work in changing the seller's position in this matter.

In terms of taking this to the small claims court, as legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:

1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.
2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.
3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.

Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.

I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

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