Published on September 29th, 2011 | by Tom Wake0
How to avoid getting ripped off by dodgy landlords
Until fairly recently landlords had us over a barrel. They took hold of the deposit money when you moved in and they decided exactly how much of it they gave back when you moved out.
It was a ridiculous, one-sided situation.
Even if you cleaned the place with industrial strength equipment and left everything tip top, some landlords would still try and swipe your deposit, as if it were a departure tax.
The conversation normally went something like this:
“Yes, I can see you’ve done some cleaning, but I’m going to have to get the place professionally cleaned – I’m afraid that’ll be £300 off your deposit.”
“Oh dear, I’m afraid that broken plastic loo roll holder was an antique. That’ll be another £1,200 off your deposit.”
“And your last Rolo? I’ll be having that too.”
Before you know it, so-called damage worth £20 is ratcheted up to nonsense la la land prices.
The good news is times have changed dramatically and now you are protected. Since 2004 laws have been put in place to protect tenants against rogue landlords.
Know your rights! Why you could be entitled to 3 times your original deposit PLUS interest if they don’t pay up
The problem is, it seems some of these rogue landlords are still blindly ignoring the new laws and trying to fleece unsuspecting victims.
So here’s what you need to know.
These days landlords are required by law to hand over your deposit to a special tenancy deposit scheme.
This means an independent party holds onto your deposit money in an account that neither you or your landlord can touch.
Not only does your landlord have to organise this, they’re supposed to provide you with the details within 14 days of receiving it. Most people aren’t aware of this.
Why is all this in place?
To prevent landlords trying to unfairly retain deposit money from departing tenants. You see, if there’s a dispute over the deposit (from either side) they’re there to mediate and decide on the fairest decision before releasing any money to either party. Good for honest landlords and good for honest tenants.
Here’s the kicker…
If you’ve got a rogue landlord and he hasn’t registered with one of these schemes he has no legal recourse to claim ANY money from you whatsoever. None. The whole deposit is owed to you automatically.
It gets better…
Once the courts have contacted him, if he doesn’t pay up the full amount by an allotted date he’ll also be stung for the compensation of 3 times the deposit amount plus 8% annual interest, plus court costs.
It’s not looking too shabby for the underdog now.
If you want to get really clued up on this and a whole host of other tenancy factoids, you can download this PDF ‘Unfair terms in tenancy agreements’ from the Office of Fair Trading.
It’ll show you what to do and who to contact.