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  • Legal FAQs

    Non registering of deposit - court case

    My late husband (via me the executor of his estate) has today received from a no win no fee solicitor, a claim for £7,500 for non registering of a deposit 7 years ago. 

    How the former tenant found out he had died and then had the b****y despicable cheek to sue him (now me) is beyond me. 

    I remember the tenant - he had a 6 mth AST which became periodic but was a difficult tenant. He never paid the rent on time, was abusive to my husband, wouldn’t even change a light bulb etc etc. Anyhow he said he was leaving (with 1 month rent arrears) but said he wanted the deposit to cover  the last months rent.

    I remember my husband refusing saying that way if he damaged the property, he’d have no come back, he was abusive again and eventually said he’d pay the rent if my husband told the council that he was a good tenant and paid his rent on time (!) etc etc so he could get a council flat.

    My husband agreed, he paid his last month’s rent and his deposit was returned. 

    However for whatever reason it seems like my husband didn’t register the deposit as he was in the middle of cancer treatment and I do t think this was uppermost on his mind. 

    Is it a foregone conclusion that this person will be awarded 3 times the deposit value is £7.5k which is what he’s suing me for because they’ve added on the periodic tendency period, or, given the circumstances ie he’s not here to defend himself, should I fight it?

    If it’s black and white and he will be awarded it (which makes me feel sick that he’s done this knowing he’s dead) then obviously I’ll have to plead that I can pay it in instalments but if it’s not a forgone conclusion I feel like going to court and telling him to stick it up his jaksy!!

    Apologies emotional and angry but realise he did something wrong nonetheless.
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    sorry to hear all that...why would anyone want to be a landlord!? 

    isnt the claim statute barred after 7 years, i.e. out of time?

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    The tenant had 6 years 30 days from the date the deposit was received to make a claim in the small claims court. Have a look at https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/d...2015.shtml.

    Also have a look at https://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co...s-deposit/ (in particular response 226) and https://www.propertyinvestmentproject.co...y-deposit/

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    These no win no fee solicitors try it on all the time hoping people will not take them on.

    Just see a solicitor and i expect a letter from him/her will see them off.

    When they know you are not a walk over they will back off but don't leave it alone. They do not go away and take it as a sign of weakness if you do nothing.

    I think the statute of limitations on contracts is 6 years - but I am not a lawyer. Make sure your solicitors letter includes your comment about the council flat as this will show them they are opening up a can of worms and would probably back down as going to court would not look good for their client. I say again get a legal letter off to them so they see they have a fight on their hands.

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    qweasdzxc posted just before my reply so read the information suggested, but deal with it and don't delay.

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    Fight it. Ive been to court many times as a lay representative.

    1) 7 years ago does not make it valid
    2) In my experience the 3x deposit penalty os very rare. Only for big landlords with many properties who "should have known to protect the deposit". 
    3) Inform them you will counter sue for tenant damages and last months rent

    4) Im not sure about this but.....if the contract was between the tenant and your husband how can he sue you? Unless your name was joint on the contract.
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    This should be your reply:

    Dear Sir / Madam

    Tenants are bound by the statutory limit of 6 years on chasing a landlord through the small claims court. This applies from the moment that the breach occurs. This means that tenants have 6 years and 30 days from the receipt of the deposit in which to chase the landlord for the financial penalty. This alone should put a stop to it.

    I am also unaware of any tenancy details of this tenant and would require proof of this. (Its fairly reasonable to suggest you cant remember who the tenant is after 7 years! This will put the onus on him to produce the proof eg tenenacy agreement etc which he just wont have).

    Kind Regards,

    Sharon Peck
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    The case won't be heard in the small claims court (in fact, in theory, the small claims court is not supposed to hear deposit penalty cases).

    If it was held in the small claims court, the no-won-no-fee company would not have any chance of making their fees.

    There is a second breach which occurs when the periodic tenancy begins after 6 months (plus 30 days) if the deposit wasn't protected the first time.

    First of all, I'd check the dates very carefully and then I would reply pointing out that you are the executor and will require some time to investigate. In the meantime, could the claimant provide evidence of where and when the deposit was paid and a copy of the tenancy agreement to assist you in your work. You are surprised that the deposit wasn't protected as the deceased was careful in his dealings as a landlord.

    That may be enough to put the company off.

    If there was a deposit and it wasn't protected, the issue is that the penalty is due - the reasons for it not being protected might cause the court to keep the penalty at the lower end of the scale, but it's not certain. The main cost is the legal fees, which will be much higher than the penalty - contingency firms are allowed to apply a win bonus if they are successful in court which can be up to 100%.


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    I would not act without advice.

    For example you do not know if the tenant has a right to sue a deceased person. You also do not want to inadvertently make yourself liable.

    I would contact a firm such as Landlord Action initially who are a legal firm but more practical than for example contacting your local solicitor's firm who will not be dealing with these things day in day out.

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    Rural Practice Chartered Surveyor. Experienced in estate management, residential investments, planning and development and rights for utility apparatus. All comments are for casual information purposes only. If you wish to rely on any advice I have given please ensure you obtain independent specialist advice from a third party. No liability is accepted for comments made.

    As others have said the claim is probably statute barred. There is some uncertainty about this though.

    In any event the sum awarded is from one to three times deposit based on judicial discretion.

    I think you would be likely to keep it at the bottom end of the claim value based on the facts you set out. If you want it to go away you could simply offer that sum and see if it is accepted.
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    David Smith
    Landlord & Tenant Solicitor
    Anthony Gold Solicitors

    Find me on LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/in/dsnsmith

    All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my firm. No comment made should be taken as legal advice and you should consult a solicitor or other legal professional for advice on your specific situation.
    I would echo others comments regarding getting expert help.  

    I can recommend Alex Cook at Helix Law. 

    You're likely at the bottom end of the scale for penalties that is assuming liability transfers to you.  I suspect this is a problem that transfers into the estate which presumably no longer exists as it has gone through probate, therefore you would.br in the clear.  

    But get expert advice.
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    Professional student and residential lettings in Liverpool.
    http://www.topproperty-services.com
    Twitter: @ToppropertyUK