Question: We are struggling to get our deposit back from our old property. Our deposit of £1,200 is held with the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) and the landlord wants £200 for cleaning costs. No quote has been provided, he continually rejects our requests to use the available dispute mechanism of the DPS and now he has stopped answering our emails.
Do you think we should just give in to him and let him have the £200 so that we can get our money back or is there anything else we can do?
Answer: Your landlord is no longer responding, so raise a dispute with the DPS. If that fails, you may need to go to court but even if you get a judgment against your landlord in the small claims court, you may have to enforce the judgment to get the money out of him.
Do remember a landlord can make a reasonable deduction for cleaning. Did your tenancy agreement require carpets and curtains to be cleaned to a professional standard before you moved out? Do you have photos showing the condition of the property when you left, or any receipts for cleaning it? Did the landlord use a letting agent to check the inventory and the property before you left?
If you feel you can prove that you left the property in the correct state and in accordance with the terms of your tenancy agreement, then send a letter before action to the landlord notifying him of your intention to issue court proceedings. If that doesn't work, contact your local county court. Ask them for the necessary forms and guidance notes to help you issue a small claim.
I expect that your landlord is banking on the fact that you will not pursue that course of action and will relent and let him have the money so that you can get your £1,000 back — if you are sure of your ground, then perhaps you should stand up to him.
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These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.