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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 14265
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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I previously had a verbal tenancy agreement with tenants. So

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Hi there. I previously had a verbal tenancy agreement with tenants. So paperwork was ever signed. They have since left the property.
Over the 6 month period some extra monies were paid in form of a bond but it was drip fed over 3-4 months.
They moved out and I have said that I want to keep some of the additional funds for damages and additional cleaning. They have disputed this and have said they will take me to court via disputes tribunal. I am not in the UK right now as I work overseas. Can they do this? I do not want to get into a situation where I have been summoned to court and cannot be there

Good morning. I will assist with your question - be aware this is an email not chat service therefore maybe delayed in replying.

what do you mean by verbal agreement?

how long were they there?

what was the deposit? did you protect it?

why are you keeping some back?

Customer: replied 5 months ago.
The tenants were friends of a friend so there was no paperwork I just let them rent my flat for just over 6 months. They moved out late March. They deposited an additional 1125£ which was just short of 1 month rent.
I’d like to hold some back for additional cleaning as the place was a total mess, I have many photos and also missing linen and kitchen items

Unfortunately, you have a problem if you did not protect the deposit in a recognised scheme because under section 213 of the Housing Act 2004 as amended by the Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007 and by the Deregulation Act 2015, any such deposit has to be in a prescribed scheme.

It’s not relevant that they didn’t have a formal agreement and it’s not relevant that they were friends.

Failure to protect the deposit and provide the prescribed information within 30 days is an offence and you are liable to return the full deposit plus pay compensation of up to 3 times the amount of the deposit.

For these reasons, I would advise caution because the last thing you want is this tenant taking legal advice. These are not Small Claims Court matters, the claims are easy to bring an solicitors are crying out for the work because they are easy to bring and they will also get a couple of grand of costs on top of the amount of the deposit compensation.

You are on the hook for 6 years from the date when you should have protected the deposit.

Because of this failure to protect the deposit, depending on the amount of money involved, you might want to drop it rather than them potentially take legal advice which could cost you far more than your claiming from them.

If you had protected the deposit, my advice to you would be completely different.

I’m sorry, I know it’s not the answer you wanted.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

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Thank you.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Thanks FES. This is really helpful. The thing is however that the deposit was never actually paid in full. They drip fed a couple of hundred here and there and never specified when they paid in the extra for the deposit. In fact in the end only 1125 of the 1200 (one month rent) was paid in. Does this change things at all if the deposit was never paid in full or in one instalment?

Imagine you are in front of a judge.

The judge asked the question and says that you have to give a yes no answer. No qualification, just one word.

“Did they pay a deposit?”.

Then you know what the answer is.

And you have my reply also.


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