Yes it’s a long title for this blog post, but I want anyone who might find this blog and are dealing with the same situation to be able to find it quickly!
This is what was happening to me. Is it the same with you? If so, read on.
I rented 2 properties from my ex-landlord in back to back tenancies dating from August 2012 until August 2013 and then from August 2013 to September 2015, i.e. this September just gone.
My ex- landlord did not supply me with a tenancy deposit certificate for property 1 until 2015.
When he supplied it to me, I found out that it hadn’t been registered until almost a year into renting property 1. When the deposit was registered the landlord backdated the certificate in order to retrospectively activate it. They also put an end date on it that was far beyond the time after I left property 1.
Despite repeatedly asking for a deposit certificate relevant to property 2, I did not receive one. I eventually discovered that the deposit for property 2 was registered with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme 2 days prior to my quitting the tenancy.
It was also backdated to start at the beginning of property 2 and was forward dated to end in December 2015. i.e. 3 months after I left property 2.
I found out the details on the certificates by downloading them from the Deposit Scheme website. I also rang their customer advice line and spoke at length about the law in respect to tenancy deposits.
Because as of 1 month after I left the property, the landlord hadn’t returned my deposit. He also hadn’t responded to any of my communication with him about the deposit return.
Why is this important?
Since 2007 it is illegal for a landlord not to register a tenancy deposit with a UK government recognised tenancy deposit scheme.
It has to be registered within 30 days of receipt. It also has to be re-registered whenever fundamental terms of the tenancy alters, like an address or a rent amount. The landlord must also provide the certificate to the tenant. None of this happened in my case.
Crucially, you can’t retrospectively activate a deposit registration by putting an earlier date on the certificate. The key date is the one saying when it was registered.
The tenant can sue the landlord for failure to protect their money through the small claims court.
What was wrong with the certificates you were given?
On the first certificate, it showed that the deposit was registered 8 months after the deposit was first received. The second certificate was registered over 2 years since a change of tenancy, address and rent amount. It should have been re-registered at the time I moved between property 1 and property 2.
Interesting background but what’s that got to do with the price of bread?
How do you get your landlord to pay you back your deposit when he isn’t answering your calls and hasn’t communicated with you? Use a tactic familiar to solicitors and barristers everywhere…..
Write a legal letter?
Yes, but I’m not a solicitor. I did write a letter quoting advice from the tenancy deposit scheme the landlord used though but I did something else in it too…
Was it as simple as saying “where’s the money?”
No, because I’d asked that repeatedly and he hadn’t replied or acted on paying it back.
So I used a courtroom tactic. The tactic I used was to constantly remind my landlord of the tenancy deposit certificates while I was asking him for my deposit back.
By attaching a copy of the deposit certificates and quoting advice from the tenancy deposit scheme helpline as well, I made it clear to him that I knew he had acted illegally in not registering my deposits as the law states he should have done.
You didn’t say that explicitly…
No. I talked about the delay in returning my deposit, that I’d sought advice from the tenancy deposit scheme and that they’d advised me he was acting outside of the Housing Act 2004 in retaining my deposit with no communication as to return or deduction.
I attached both certificates which show, in black and white, without spelling it out, that the dates weren’t right for my tenancies.
I gave him a deadline of tomorrow morning at 9:00 am to repay my deposit or I would raise a dispute with the deposit scheme.
Yes, it is rather, because all aspects of my tenancy deposit would have been used as evidence in this dispute, including the fact that the certificates were registered not following either their rules and regulations, or the Housing Act 2004, the primary legislation in this case.
(There are a few more cases that have happened since that do affect deposits but you’ll need to look at those separately. They didn’t affect my situation.)
The deposit scheme said that they could prevent a landlord from continuing to use them if evidence comes to light that they aren’t acting within their terms and conditions either.
He could see I had that evidence.
What happened next….
I found my landlords home address by Googling it. I sent a letter to his home address, and his company address which isn’t really a company address because he works from his home.
I also copied it into an email to him.
What happened then?
I got a couple of phone calls from him and an email asking me to call him, which I didn’t respond to because the deposit scheme had advised me that I needed to keep everything in writing.
Today I got what can only be described as the rudest email I’ve ever read in a professional situation and I’ve read some rude emails in professional situations in my time. This one beat out all the others.
He accused me of not getting my deposit back because I DIDN’T PICK UP THE PHONE !
If I’d picked up the phone to him, he’d have told me that he needed my bank details to repay the deposit. Because I “find it impossible to pick up a phone call” it was all MY fault that the deposit hadn’t been returned yet.
Christ, you got him rattled..
I did rather! I maintained calm and explained that I’d been advised by the deposit scheme to keep communication in writing, as I would need that if I were to progress with a dispute.
I also added that I found it surprising that they didn’t have my bank details as I’d been paying rent to them for 3 years. I then re-gave them my bank account details.
Fun and games! What happened next.
Yet another rude email
My landlord replied even more angry than before. He said that I probably didn’t realise that as I was paying HIM, so he didn’t have my bank details…
Yes. Despite having my bank details every time I paid rent, he didn’t have them in the company financial records. Interesting huh. When someone signs a tenancy agreement, their bank details are included. I paid him every month where his bank statements will show my details, still he didn’t have them.
I pointed out that he’d exceeded his own tenancy agreement end date for repaying a deposit, as well as the 10 days stated in the Housing Act 2004. He’d not written, he’d not called, until the point he received the letter from me this week with all the deposit certificate information attached.
I said that if the delay in repaying the deposit had been a simple matter of finding out my bank details from me, that could have been carried out at check-out or even by chasing me afterwards for it…..but he didn’t. I heard NOTHING for over a month until I acted.
“I don’t consider it my responsibility to chase you, as I have had to do. However it’s been resolved now so I am pleased we do not have to progress a dispute in this case,” I added to the sign-off.
I don’t know what the answer is to that email is but yes. Miracle! He’s now repaid my deposit. Easy-as wasn’t it.
Well no, not really. You see he really is a bastard. His facade has slipped and now I’m not his tenant any longer, it’s all becoming clear.
And he’s done it in writing too 🙂
Did you get legal advice?
I have an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bureau housing advisor next week.
But you’ve got the deposit back!
Yes I do, but he failed to protect my deposit and I think this means that I can sue him. I’ve got a paper trail, I’ve been getting it together this week.
Be afraid, be very afraid..
He’ll be pooing his pants. He knows he’s acted illegally. Plus there’s the little matter of the mould and damp in my old flat which hasn’t been addressed either.
Is this your revenge, Lindy?
I wouldn’t use the word ‘Revenge’ – it’s a bit extreme.
Or would I …..:-)
© Lindy 2015