Chiswick Couple Win Case in Small Claims Court

After Foxtons Paid Their Deposit To Landlord Without Cause

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Chiswick residents, Becky Hirst and Dan Procter are urging private tenants to sign up to a charity's scheme to protect their deposits after a successful but lengthy battle to have theirs returned after it was held back by Foxtons on behalf of the landlord.

The couple, who took their Landlord to the small claims court after advice from forum members, are encouraging new tenants to join homeless charity Shelter's new scheme aimed at protecting the deposits of private tenants after research revealed renters are risking more than one billion pounds in deposits held by landlords.

Becky told, “We moved into the flat on Chiswick High Road in June 2005, and at the end of our tenancy in June 2006 moved out. We left the flat in good condition, as it had been when we moved in. We never met the landlord as it was all done through a letting agency. Though we requested it, no inventory was carried out, which is something we will now always demand. I noticed about £65 had been paid back into my bank account so called the letting agent to query this. They advised me that £1100 had been paid to the landlord for redecoration and re-carpeting. I was really shocked and upset that we hadn't even been notified about this and no discussion had taken place. We had trusted the letting agent with our money.”

“After someone on chiswickw4 suggested we take the landlord to court, we pursued this. We collected evidence including photographs of the flat, a reference from the landlord to our new letting agent recommending us as good tenants, and phone conversation records and letters to the landlord attempting to resolve the situation.”

“We eventually won the case and received our deposit back, plus the court costs we had incurred. The landlord appealed for his judgement to be set aside but this was dismissed by the court.”

She continued “We contacted Shelter to let them know about the situation and to offer our help in spreading the word about this. So many people have their deposits withheld unfairly and this can lead to terrible financial problems for tenants. The new scheme is something we urge people to sign up to in a bid to protect their money. The worst thing was that we went back to the flat months later and found that he hadn't painted or carpeted, and had re-let the flat in the exact same GOOD condition as we left it in!”

Last year, more than three-quarters of all tenants who had money withheld claimed it was retained by their landlords unfairly. With the average deposit now reaching £700 in England, losing a deposit causes financial hardship and in the worst cases, homelessness.

The new tenancy deposit protection scheme requires landlords to protect tenants' deposits in one of three independent government-approved custodial or insurance-based schemes. Deposits are held within the scheme until the end of a tenancy, at which point tenants can reclaim their cash. The schemes also provide a quick, easy way to resolve disputes without resorting to the courts.

March 11, 2007