I recently enquired about a property advertised on Openrent which was originally advertised at £800pcm and the landlord responded saying that he didn’t have any up-to-date photos and he wasn’t able to arrange a viewing yet as the tenants were still there until 21st August. He asked us for a holding deposit of £400 to enable him to pause the listing and arrange for us to view the property. He then increased the rent to be £820pcm.
He stated in an email to me,
“Let me bring you up to speed. I am getting inundated with enquiries (some from unsuitable candidates) & viewing requests. I never let anybody view without knowing something about them first.
I would be willing to offer you first shout at taking this house & pause my advert with Open Rent with some provisions. Would you be happy with that, or do you want to get an internal viewing of the house first?”
“In the meantime, are you OK to pay a holding fee of £400 for the property. This is to keep the house for you until you move in or, in this case, view the property. This money becomes part of your deposit/first month’s rent when you sign the tenancy agreement. I have already paused my advert as of yesterday.”
I paid this deposit as requested, on the understanding that this was to hold it until we either moved in OR viewed the property, as stated. On viewing the property, it was not in a good state of repair and we also had been re-offered another property that we had previously accepted but the tenant was unable to move out.
I declined the property (we hadn’t signed any paperwork) and asked the landlord to return the difference between the week’s rent he is entitled to (I had since discovered) and the £400 we had paid, as I accept that he is able to hold onto that one week’s deposit.
He responded quite aggressively, accusing us of reneging on the tenancy and quoting Openrent in saying that he was entitled to keep the deposit. However, as you know, the amount he asked us for is now classed as a ‘prohibited payment’
“I always want my tenants to be happy so of course if you want to renege on your agreement with you that is up to you. I do feel that my good will has been abused though & I must point out Open Rent’s policy on Holding Deposits (point 3 in their guidelines I think) : i.e., they are not returnable unless the landlord opts not to take you as tenants.”
I have responded, pointing out that I am happy for him to keep 1 week’s deposit (£190) but would appreciate the difference in return and have heard nothing back. I have sent a similar post to this to Openrent, with details of the property and landlord included so they can see which ad it was.
Any advice anyone can offer would be appreciated.