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Aaron D
Aaron D, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 239
Experience:  LLB, BPTC
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I am a landlord who did not put my tenants deposit in DPS

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Hello, i am a landlord who did not put my tenants deposit in DPS scheme, she has now moved out, we both agreed that she wont pay rent for the last month to clear the deposit. Now after moving out she has started legal action, even though I don't owe her anything, but just because she saw an opportunity. What can I do? Thank you
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Property in London, Newham borough, but I live in Bristol
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: have contacted her asking to clarify why she thinks that this is the route to take. SHe is very aggressibe and mentally unstable (not documented though) so is refusing to cooperate.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: She had an argument with another tenant and decided to move out duirng the pandemic. She has bene in the flat for 10 months, previosly moving from another place where she was saying the landlord was abusive to her. Now i realize its the other way aroud. She refuses to cooperate, has been extremely rude to me on many occasions. I have received a letter form her legal representative that she is claiming 2 x deposit.
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
The tenant also was not telling me the exact date of moving out, refuses to pay end of tenancy clean, internet bill for last month, damage to wardrobes, blinds and walls - her room had to be repainted.
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
This is the letter from her solicitor. Thnak you

Hello, thank you for your question.

Unfortunately; regardless of the circumstances if you failed to protect the deposit then the tenant is normally entitled to compensation. The law is there to ensure that landlords follow the rules and it has to be strict to ensure that compliance. One thing to bear in mind is that under the legislation the judge has to award the refund of the deposit and then compensation. The judge has discretion to award compensation of 1x, 2x or 3x the deposit.

So, if you let the matter go to court then you could explain all the circumstances and perhaps the judge might be sympathetic and make the award at the lowest level. If you persuade the judge that you have repaid the deposit then they may well just award 1x the deposit as compensation.

In terms of the damage/ unpaid bills she caused you could issue your own small claim or if this matter went to court you could file a counterclaim.

Letting the matter get to court is risky though as firstly you never know how much the court will order and secondly, you could be ordered to pay the legal costs of the tenant.

There's nothing to stop you trying to negotiate with her solicitors. Explain that you already repaid the deposit and that you are considering claiming for the damage caused by the tenant make them an offer that you think is fair. It is best to reply by letter/ email. You can mark any letter you send as "without prejudice save as to costs" at the top. This means that generally the letter cannot be shown to the judge until after the case is concluded. This means that any admissions you make can't usually be used against you etc.

If you want to get your own solicitor to write to them you can find one here: https://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk.

I hope this helps, if you can please accept my answer and rate me 5 stars (in the top right of your screen) then Just Answer will credit me for helping you today.

I will remain available for any follow-up questions.

Aaron D and 3 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Dear *****, thanks for your answer. Should this get to the court would the judge look into all aspects of the case? I was having financial difficulties at the time and used the deposit to pay one of debtors so I wasn't able to put it in the DPS scheme at the time. Would this make matters worse for me?
Also the tenant, after she has told me she is moving out ,did not cooperate with onlive viewings so I wasn't able to find anyone to move in because of the coronavirus situation and now I am looking at the property being empty thus worseming my already dire financial situation. In my tenancy agreement is states that tenant has to allow access to the property for the viewings, which in this case would have been online, but she didn't. Can i include this in my couter claim and if yes then how please?Thank
you

I'd say that makes things worse in some sense because not only did you fail to protect the deposit, you spent it meaning it could have been lost forever. The whole point of the DPS scheme is to ensure that a tenant's deposit is protected.

Bear in mind that if it goes to court then you must not lie if asked what you did with the deposit money.

The judge might be somewhat sympathetic to hear about your financial issues however.

In terms of the failure to allow access; this is may be a breach of the terms of the tenancy but it will be difficult to quantify how much money you have lost in the circumstances.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
right, thank you, ***** ***** to court is not the best option. In the whole - she had an argument with anither tenant, have moved out, left the property damaged and I am the one paying for it....is there any law that protects the landlord? :)

Well, court is always expensive and risky so it's always best avoided if at all possible. See what you can negotiate with the tenant's solicitors. You might be able to come to an agreement for a reduced settlement figure if you don't pursue the tenant for the damage etc.

In terms of laws to protect the landlord, I'm afraid that politically speaking laws tend to always favour the tenant as they are the ones perceived to be in the weaker bargaining position. It's also often assumed that landlords have a lot of money even though this isn't always the case. You have the slum landlords to thank for ruining it for everyone else!

I'm not saying you can't sue her for her breaches I'm just saying sometimes you have to carry out a cost/ risk analysis and think about whether it is really worth it.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Thanks Aaron for your advice, this gave me some perspective on how to approact this. Have a lovely rest of the week end. Best wishes, Victoria

No problem, good luck with the negotiations and I hope you too have a wonderful long weekend.