Lodger on SpareRoom withheld deposit

Hi, I’m having issues getting my deposit back after leaving a property I’d found on SpareRoom. I’m pretty clueless when it comes to this sort of thing so any advice would be hugely appreciated.

The issue is with a “Landlord” keeping a £200 deposit. Deposit and rent paid to his partners bank account. Not held with DPS. She works for local Housing Association so I probably put too much trust in that.

Room found through SpareRoom App, no written tenancy agreement, serious issues with housing including

Rat infestation in Kitchen due to other residents not cleaning and leaving food waste

No smoke alarms in property

No Gas safety certificate

I gave a weeks notice and on the same day he decided I had forfeited the deposit due to our “verbal agreement” and that he was now out of pocket, which isn’t right as how can he predict future circumstances?

SpareRoom confirm that I was classed as a Lodger and that no tenancy agreement exists within their terms and conditions.

Main issue is with the legality of his actions and steps from there.

I’ve tried contacting Citizens Advice but no joy so far, and SpareRoom couldn’t really offer any advice. I’ve tried to read up on tenancy rules and regs but struggling with it tbh.

Thanks for reading, hopefully someone can point me in the right direction.

Do the landlords live in the same building? If not, then its likely to be an AST regardless of where you found it or what any paperwork says.

Hi David, thank you. No he doesn’t/didn’t live there at all.

Ok so in practical terms what would be my options do you think?

Thanks again

I would send him a letter stating that you have taken advice and as he is not a resident landlord, you believe that you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy and that your deposit has not been protected in accordance with the Housing Act 2004. Consequently you demand the immediate return of your deposit and will consider whether you wish to claim a penalty of 3x the deposit as per the Act. There is a letter template on the Shelter website for claiming this penalty if you decide to go ahead.

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It’s landlords like him that give the rest of us a bad name. He needs the book throwing at him.

If he doesn’t live there, then I would be straight in to claiming 3x the deposit and reporting him to the local council for not having a gas cert/smoke alarms etc. Also sounds like he may have an HMO which could need a licence depending on local rules and how many tenants.

Also report it to Spareroom. Make sure you tell them that the landlord does not live on the premises and if they don’t seem interested, perhaps suggest you will report them to Trading Standards since are then they are enabling someone they know is offering illegal HMO accomodation with no gas cert/smoke alarms/deposit protection.

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Couple of links you might find useful…

What is a lodger (with a link to a tenancy rights checker) Lodgers - Shelter England

How to make a deposit compensation claim… How to make a tenancy deposit compensation claim - Shelter England

If you have to go to court, there is a £308 court fee which the landlord has to pay if you win, so best to try to negotiate outside of court if you can - it’s worth being reasonable and negotiating to save the hassle and up front cost of court.

If he is the owner of the property and the transaction was with him then why is money paid to his partner? Or do they both own the property and are registered accordingly?

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