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I have been living in London for several years now and experienced issues with one of my last letting agencies. I'm looking for your legal advice on what actions to take.

It was an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement within a shared house. The issue with this tenancy which ended almost a year ago was that the landlord never paid me back my deposit and also never protected it under the deposit scheme.

This website states that "before I start a court claim, I must send my former landlord a formal 'letter before action'. This letter must set out the detail of my claim."

I found out that the court could force my landlord to pay up to 3 times the deposit amount. Is it 3 times on top of the reimbursement of the deposit (i.e. a total of 4 times the deposit in best case scenario), or including the reimbursement of the deposit?

So I prepared the template letter as described here.

My question to you is: can I decide to take this to court if, let's say, the landlord does not agree to settle for at least 2 times the deposit amount?

  • 1
    Your first question needs editing (see "can I decide to court"). I do not know UK law, but typically the concept of treble damages already includes actual damages. Thus, it is not that you would get up to 4 times the actual damages. As for the 2nd question, you would have to invoke a non-employee/non-agent equivalent of vicarious liability (aka respondeat superior). Somebody knowledgeable of UK law will be able to provide you with a more precise insight, and much of it will depend on the specific terms stated in your lease. – Iñaki Viggers Sep 17 '18 at 11:08
  • Thanks for your help. Sorry but I did not understand what you meant with: "I do not know UK law, but typically the concept of treble damages already includes actual damages.". If someone knows a more tailor made platform where I can ask this kind of question, I'm interested. Cheers. – soso23 Sep 20 '18 at 10:42
  • Treble damages means three times the amount of damages, and the lack of reimbursement of your deposit would constitute actual damages. I was just clarifying that recovery is not "three times on top of the reimbursement of the deposit". However, I am not knowledgeable of whether UK law is different on this matter. And yes, this is the right place to make that kind of questions (if I knew UK law, I would be happy to fully answer your inquiry). – Iñaki Viggers Sep 20 '18 at 12:59
  • Pleas only post one question per question - keep the first question here and post the second as another question. – Dale M Sep 21 '18 at 1:25
  • @IñakiViggers Thanks for the clarification. – soso23 Sep 21 '18 at 8:26
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Under section 214 of the Housing Act 2004 (as amended), the penalty for not protecting the deposit is considered separately from the deposit itself.

In the case where the tenant has already moved out (emphasis mine):

(3A) The court may order the person who appears to the court to be holding the deposit to repay all or part of it to the applicant within the period of 14 days beginning with the date of the making of the order.

(4)The court must order the landlord to pay to the applicant a sum of money not less than the amount of the deposit and not more than three times the amount of the deposit within the period of 14 days beginning with the date of the making of the order.

(See also here and here).

In other words, if this goes to court, the landlord may be faced with paying back (in the worst case for him) the entire deposit, plus a penalty of up to three times the deposit.

Therefore, unless the landlord is feeling confident, privately agreeing for him to pay two times the deposit could be a good deal, as it's half what a court could award.

  • Thank you. It fully answers my question. Thank you for your help. And if I am not happy with his offer, I can go straight to court, I don't need to justify a long and passionate negociation for that, right? – soso23 Sep 22 '18 at 6:52
  • You’re welcome :-) If you’re happy with this answer, please could you upvote and accept it. – Steve Melnikoff Sep 22 '18 at 10:01
  • Re negotiation: going to court is always a risk. It might be worth speaking to a lawyer, especially given the issues with this landlord mentioned in your other question. – Steve Melnikoff Sep 22 '18 at 10:04

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