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TDS - disputes


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Can any one give me advice on what to do please:?:

I let out a property, when the tenant left it was agreed by me and the letting agent that the bedroom carpets had been ruined by him and needed to be replaced. I had also notified the letting agent that I would not be re-letting the property out through them.

I was advised by the letting agent that I should replace the hallway and lounge carpets with laminate flooring as tenants often preferred it and it was more practical. I did this but it cost me around 1000K in total.

The tenant's deposit was only £600. I considered it fair that I should be entitled to the full deposit putting the extra £400 I had put in down to my improving the property.

I forwarded the receipt I had from the contractor who carried out the work to the letting agent but he had made some spelling errors with the address.... not a huge crime, I thought! I was told by the agent that it was not good enough as they needed a breakdown of the cost of carpet and laminate. The contractor then sent me an e-mail listing the details of the job but still with only the total amount showing. In addition to forwarding all I have had to the agent they still held a set of keys to the property for 3 months after the carpets etc. were replaced and the property was empty. I did invite them to inspect the work that had been done which I don't believe they did. I asked the contractor for this and he emailed me a list of the details of the job but with out separate costs.

The letting agent are still refusing to pay up. I have been back to the contractor several times who has said he will give this to me. Now he seems to have disappeared, not answering calls or e-mails etc.

There is no financial gain for the contractor in this so I can understand why he might not see it as a priority but what can I do?

The letting agent are still refusing to give me any of the deposit back (now 4 months later) and I am unable to get any response from the contractor. This must be something others have experienced. I don't know what MY rights are in this or who to get in touch with for help.

I do know that I lost my faith in the letting agent well before this over their incompetent handling of some non paying tenants I had in another property so have switched both this one and that to another agent. I am still in dispute with them over my costs and losses with the other property but the two issues should be separate. I can't help wondering if they are making it difficult for me because of this.

Any ideas on what I can do?

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Sounds like a tricky problem.

Some thoughts:

- although the agent sounds like a complete pain, if they are saying that you can only claim for repair (or replacement if necessary) of damaged items and not betterment, then they are correct. You cant use the deposit to pay for a significantly better quality item than was lost or damaged

- this means that you do need to come up with some evidence to show that the previous carpet couldnt be cleaned and a realistic price for its replacement. Ideally this should be provided by the contractor you used, but a couple of quotes for a replacement carpet of comparable quality should be enough.

- from your question headings I assume the deposit has been lodged with the TDS by the agent. If this is the case, try applying direct to the TDS to have the deposit registration transferred into your name. The best way to do this is to be completely honest and open about the problems you are having with the agent.

- submit a formal complaint to the agent and, if you are still not satisifed with their answer, complain to their professional body if they are a member of one (ARLA or ARMA are the most common).

- remember as well that what you can do with the deposit is dependent upon what your tenancy agreement says on the subject, so its worth double checking what it says

On the other hand, if the deposit was paid before 6th April 2006 and the deposit is being held on your behalf by the agent, you might need to take a slightly different tack. What does your agreement with the agent say about how deposits will be handled? And again, what does the tenancy agreement say? Depending upon what they say, you probably have the right to have the deposit transferred to you so you can handle its return to the tenant - or otherwise.

Ultimately, if the agent doesnt act properly and pofessionally - and you suffer a loss as a consequence - then you will be able to sue, provided of course you have the evidence referred to above.

Given that the TDS is still fairly new I suspect that there havent been very many cases of this type so far - or at least not many that have gone through the "system" at the TDS or through the Courts. It would be interesting to know how this one turns out.

Good luck


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