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The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
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We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
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Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
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Sonay was really informative and understood my questions instantly, what I thought was complex Sonay simplified massively. She regularly checked in and the service was fast and ultra professional. Would highly recommend.
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Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
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About

A Deposit Dispute is a disagreement between a landlord and tenant over the return of a deposit. Deposit Disputes are often caused by a tenant failing to leave the property in the same condition as it was in when they moved in. Solicitors can help resolve these disputes and ensure the deposit is returned to the tenant.Next steps

How much does a Deposit Dispute cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with a Deposit Dispute is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £150-£200 but in some cases it could cost as much as £250.

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So, you've entered the world of renting, or you're planning to soon. It's crucial to know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to your rental deposit. 

deposit-dispute

In this article, we'll walk you through the ins and outs of deposit disputes in the UK, including what to do if you are faced with a deposit dispute and the legal process involved. 

What is a deposit dispute?

A deposit dispute happens when there is a disagreement between a tenant and their landlord regarding the return of a rental deposit at the end of a tenancy. It typically arises when the tenant is moving out of a rented property, and the landlord wishes to make deductions from the tenant's deposit for various reasons.

A deposit dispute can happen for specific reasons including where rent has been unpaid or the property has been damaged.  To avoid disputes, it's essential to understand the rules within the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 from the very beginning. 

It's important to note that both tenants and landlords have rights and responsibilities regarding the return of deposits and it is important to understand these fully to avoid a breach in tenancy agreement.

The law in the UK requires landlords to protect tenants' deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme and provide certain information to the tenant. If a landlord fails to do this, they may face legal consequences, and the tenant may be entitled to compensation.

How much can a landlord deduct from a deposit?

Your landlord can only deduct money from your deposit for specific reasons. These reasons include:

  • Unpaid Rent: If you owe your landlord rent, they can deduct it from your deposit.There is no specific limit on this deduction, but it should be equal to the amount of unpaid rent.

  • Property Damage: Your landlord can use the deposit to fix damages beyond normal wear and tear. For example, if you've put a hole in the wall or stained the carpet. The deduction should be reasonable and reflect the actual cost of repairs.

  • Cleaning: If you leave the property dirty or cluttered, your landlord can deduct money for cleaning expenses. However, the deduction should only cover the actual cost of cleaning, and it should not be excessive. There is no specific limit, but it should be justifiable.

  • Missing Items: Any missing items that were provided with the property, like furniture, appliances, or keys, could lead to deductions. 

  • Bills: If you're responsible for paying utility bills, and you haven't settled them, your landlord can deduct the unpaid bills from your deposit. The deduction should equal the unpaid bills.

How should a landlord propose deductions from a deposit?

Your landlord should provide you with a breakdown of any deductions they wish to make from your deposit. This statement should be in writing, explaining the reasons for the deductions, and accompanied by any receipts or invoices. They must send this within 10 days of the end of your tenancy.

What happens in a deposit dispute?

If you disagree with the proposed deductions from your deposit, a deposit dispute arises. The process aims to ensure that disputes are handled fairly and that both parties have the opportunity to present their case. 

Here's what generally happens in a deposit dispute:

Contacting the landlord

If a tenant disagrees with the proposed deductions from their deposit, the first step is to contact the landlord. Open communication is essential. The tenant should express their concerns and try to reach an agreement through discussion.

Dispute resolution services

If a resolution cannot be reached through direct communication with the landlord, the tenant and landlord can turn to a dispute resolution service. There are three government-approved tenancy deposit protection schemes in the UK, which are:

These schemes offer free dispute resolution services, which aim to help both parties reach a fair decision regarding the deposit. The schemes will appoint an impartial adjudicator to review the evidence and make a decision.

Court action

If negotiation and dispute resolution services fail to resolve the issue, either party can take the matter to court. This is typically considered a last resort, as it can be costly and time-consuming. Going to court may involve legal representation, presenting evidence, and attending court hearings.

In court, a judge will assess the evidence and arguments presented by both the tenant and the landlord. The judge will then make a legally binding decision on how the deposit should be distributed.

Judicial decision

If the dispute goes to court, a judge will consider all the evidence and arguments presented by both parties. The judge will make a legally binding decision on how the deposit should be distributed.

It's important to note that landlords must adhere to specific legal requirements regarding deposit protection and communication with tenants. Failure to comply with these requirements can have consequences, including fines and additional compensation for the tenant.

Evidence required for deposit dispute

Whether you're trying to resolve a dispute or preparing for court action, having the right evidence is essential. You should gather evidence both in support of your case and in defence of your landlord's claims.

This evidence can include:

  • Inventory Report: The initial inventory report, which documents the property's condition at the start of the tenancy, can be crucial in assessing any damage or changes during the tenancy.

  • Communication: Any emails, text messages, or letters exchanged between the tenant and the landlord regarding repairs, issues, or requests can provide valuable context.

  • Photographs and Videos: Pictures or videos of the property's condition at the beginning and end of the tenancy can serve as strong visual evidence.

  • Receipts and Invoices: Any receipts for repairs or cleaning services, as well as invoices for replacement items, should be kept as proof of expenses.

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In defence as a landlord

When a landlord is involved in a deposit dispute in the UK, they may need to submit evidence in their defence to support their position and justify any deductions they wish to make from the tenant's deposit.

in-defence-as-a-landlord

The evidence a landlord can submit in defence of a deposit dispute is similar to the above and in addition could include:

  • Check-Out Report: If the landlord conducted a check-out inspection at the end of the tenancy, this report can provide valuable evidence. It should include notes and photographs that highlight any damage or cleaning issues that the tenant needs to address.

  • Cleaning Records: If the property was professionally cleaned before the tenant moved in, records of the cleaning service and receipts can be submitted as evidence.

  • Quotes and Estimates: If the landlord obtained quotes or estimates for repair work or cleaning, these can be submitted to show that the proposed deductions from the deposit are based on reasonable and documented costs.

  • Witness Statements: If there were any witnesses to the condition of the property or any specific events during the tenancy, their statements can be presented as evidence.

  • Utility Bills: If the tenant was responsible for paying utility bills and failed to do so, the landlord can provide copies of unpaid utility bills as evidence to support a deduction from the deposit.

How to resolve a deposit dispute if you can't contact your landlord

Sometimes, landlords can be hard to reach, or they may no longer be in business. In such cases, you should continue to make reasonable attempts to contact your landlord. Send letters, emails, or make phone calls. 

Be sure to keep records, including the dates of all your attempts in case you need to provide this as evidence that your landlord is not responding. 

If your landlord remains unresponsive, you can use a dispute resolution service or proceed to court action.

When can a landlord refuse to give back a deposit?

A landlord can refuse to return your deposit under specific circumstances, such as:

1. Unpaid rent -If you are in rent arrears, your landlord may use your deposit to cover it.

2. Damage beyond wear and tear - If you've caused substantial damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear, your landlord can deduct repair costs.

3. Cleaning expenses -If you leave the property in an excessively dirty or cluttered state, cleaning costs can be deducted.

4. Missing Items: If items provided with the property are missing, your landlord may retain part of your deposit to replace them.

As above, the landlord must provide clear evidence to show that the money deducted from the deposit covers the shortfall, and no more than this. 

Deposit disputes when a deposit hasn't been protected

By law, your landlord must protect your deposit in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme within 30 days of receiving it. If they fail to do so, you may have a strong case in court.

In such cases, you should contact your landlord and request the deposit be protected in a scheme. They have 30 days to comply.

If your landlord still fails to protect your deposit, consider taking legal action to claim compensation, usually equal to 1-3 times the deposit amount.

You should contact an expert tenant and landlord solicitor to support you with your case. 

How long does a deposit dispute take to resolve?

The time it takes to resolve a deposit dispute can vary. If you and your landlord reach an agreement or use a dispute resolution service, it might be resolved in a few weeks. However, if you go to court, it can take several months. Patience is key!

Do you have to go to court for a deposit dispute?

Going to court should be your last resort. It can be costly and time-consuming. It's always better to try to resolve the issue through negotiation or a dispute resolution service first. Court action is only necessary if all other options have been exhausted.

It is always best to take legal advice if you find yourself in a deposit dispute or disagreement with your landlord.

Get help with Deposit Disputes from Lawhive

If you find yourself in a complicated deposit dispute and need legal advice or representation, you can consult with a solicitor. They can guide you through the process, help you understand your rights, and represent your interests in court if needed.

At Lawhive, our team of expert landlord and tenant solicitors are on hand to provide you with a free, no obligation quote and assessment of your case. Tell us about your case today and receive a response in as little as 5 minutes. 

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