Question: When I recently left my rented flat I made sure it was clean and in good condition but now my landlord wants to deduct £800 from my deposit "for cleaning costs". I am furious and want to challenge it. What should I do?
Answer: One option is to make an application to court. In many cases, you will be eligible for a free mediation service which can avoid having to go to a hearing. If you can’t resolve the matter at mediation, a hearing is held at which your landlord has to justify the deduction. A judge then makes a decision based on all the evidence.
But for most leases entered into since April 6, 2007, there is another option: landlords are now required to hand the deposit over to, or insure it with, their chosen Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). There are presently three to choose from and you should have been given details of the one chosen by your landlord. In the event of a dispute, either party can apply to the TDS to use their free dispute resolution service.
In some cases, it may still be necessary to go to court. However, the TDS, not the landlord, will ultimately pay out the appropriate sum to you, either at the end of its dispute resolution procedure, or the court proceedings if required.
If the landlord has failed to use a TDS, you should seek legal advice, as your landlord could be liable to pay you three times the deposit level.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.
Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.