Due to the large number of disputes going to court regarding withheld rental deposits, there are now rules in place in relation to how your deposit is kept during the period of your rental.
In some circumstances, you may be dealing with a letting agency for your deposit. However, even in this situation the bottom line is that your landlord is responsible for the return of your deposit, so you should contact him directly if you are having problems. You have a legal right to request your landlord’s details from the agent, so put your request in writing and they must comply within 21 days.
Where you are dealing directly with a landlord, you should check whether your deposit has been protected. Deposit protection schemes have been put in place and backed by the government, so that you feel that you have some added protection when renting and that your deposit is protected too.
This deposit protection scheme offers you the chance to use an alternative dispute resolution service (ADR) completely free of charge should your deposit not be returned. However, your landlord must agree to enter into ADR and accept the final outcome of the service.
Your only other option is to take your landlord to court to recover the deposit you have lost and if the ruling goes in your favour, you can also claim compensation from your landlord. However, there are several drawbacks to this option.
Legal aid is not available for these types of disputes so you will need to pay for the case yourself, however some solicitors may offer a ‘no win, no fee’ type agreement. In addition to your solicitor’s costs, you need to pay a court fee and you may also be liable to pay your landlord’s legal costs if you lose your case.
Whatever your circumstances, you should seek advice from a specialist solicitor as early as possible, so you can be clear about where you stand.
For more information about this article or any aspect of our disputes and litigation services, please call Chris Jolly on 01373 865577 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be delighted to help you (there is no charge for initial telephone discussions).