Private landlord deposit return - not protected

I moved into a lovely flat in Feb 2020. Private landlord. Only moved out recently - after 2 years - and sourced new tenants for him for a pretty much immediate move in.

I must make clear that my landlord was lovely, and clearly happy to have a solid tenant paying the rent on time and keeping the property well loved.

The rent was confirmed as £50 more than listed - i wanted the flat so I agreed.
The deposit was 2 months rent (£1800) and first month’s rent in advance ) Total £2700 - i know that the deposit was over what the law allowed, but I wanted the flat so i agreed and paid - both paid ahead of me moving in.

No formal inventory taken but flagged a couple of issues early on and he rectified. He visited shortly after i moved in and was delighted how nice the place looked. The tenant/landlord relationship was very relaxed and informal.

After notice he met the new tenants and everyone was pleased with the arrangements moving forward.

I have since moved and sent a video of the property in detail - great condition and no issues flagged. Asked what he needed from me for deposit return.
I heard nothing.

After 11 days passed i gently asked if he needed my bank details again for deposit return. He responded saying yes but he was out of the country.

Today i only got one month’s returned and well-wishes. I responded saying i paid 2 months deposit. And now he’s gone quiet.

This makes me worry that my deposit wasn’t held in a scheme and i may have difficulty chasing the other half.

No deductions have been flagged, and i believe the time has passed for that to happen now anyway? (new tenants are already in the property).

He’s not the most proactive to follow up things with me - perhaps just a bit too laid back - but today is day 14 since my tenancy ended. The deposit is my money. I’d like it back.

You firstly need to check if the money was held in a scheme. Use these links. Check your tenancy deposit is protected - Shelter England

If not then you send him a Letter Before Action stating that unless he returns your full deposit you will be forced to contact a solictor to sue him for the deposit and a penalty of 3x the value of the deposit.

If he doesnt respond, you contact a solicitor. A no-win-no-fee type will do it for you if you cant afford the fees.

Whatever it was called unless the landlord lived in the same building , you had an AST by law. That is described in the Housing Act 1988 amended. With an AST:

  1. you are right that the deposit is over the maximum - 5 weeks is the max.
  2. the landlord should have insured your deposit but can’t have done for 3 reasons: a) it was too high and licensed schemes would not have accepted it: b) schemes all require contact details of the tenant and so you should have independently been contacted by the insurer/ custodian & c) when you received your AST your landlord would have been obliged to give you details of the deposit protection and your rights and didn’t. In any event check whether it was protected by phoning the TDS.
  3. your landlord was not good - may have been charming but:
    a) has broken the law:
    b) overcharged you; and
    c) conveniently is unavailable when owes you money.
    If your landlord is halfway competent and there seem to be doubts about this they will be aware that there are major penalties for non compliance of this type.
    Send an email cutting and pasting what I have said - and send to the landlords address (ideally service address )
    Ask for payment to be made within 2 days failing which you will issue a claim through the County Court.
    If still no action come back and we will talk through the claim but I doubt it will come to that. Even if there are legitimate deductions the landlord has waived the right to these.

Checked all - not in any. Alexander26 below seems to have highlighted why that didn’t happen. The deposit was over the legal limit so wouldn’t have been able to be held.

Thank you very much for this very clear breakdown.

I’m not the most passive of people but I’m certainly not aggressive and so perhaps i’ve allowed a tad more ‘benefit of the doubt’ here than what was warranted.

Tenants get such a bad rep and looking at Landlord-led forums there appears to be a huddle on how to fight our requests or figure out loopholes on how to push back to their advantage - even when we’ve paid on time, paid every bill, treated the property very well, etc.
I’m sure it’s born of confusion as i now know he asked the new tenants for 1 month’s rent as a deposit - but of course that’s why deposit schemes and contracts exist, huh?

I shall give it until the end of today and if nothing has been heard back, I’ll start taking those steps.

I am actually a landlord and hate to see our already tarnished reputation damaged further by bad practice. That is why I advised you

He is a charlatan. Most landlords are not charming criminals like this one.

Good news update - the other half has been paid! Hurrah

Hassle of course I could have done without - but lesson learned. ‘laid back trust is not viable when it’s my money’

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Dont forget you still have the option to pusue him for a penalty if the deposit was not actually protected. Up to 3x the deposit.

Not protecting/ asking for more than the legally allowed deposit gets the rest of us landlords a bad name, so unless you feel particularly generous to him, you should consider it. Or offer him the chance to make a cash settlement.

Have the new teants been put in same situation as you were?

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congrats and thanks for the update

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I know they were asked for 1 month’s deposit. They were moving from another flat in the building (really lovely people)

It seems he genuinely forgot how much he’d asked for before.
Perhaps because the tenants before me didn’t treat the place at all well and this time there was a good tenant recommending more good people. Who knows.

Honestly I’m happy to have the full deposit back and am loving life in my new place (despite some letting agency hiccups and details missing in new agreement) - I did get a separate confirmation from a reputable deposit scheme for this new place, so I’m learning things to be done by the book

Thank you again for the advice

But a serious lesson learned

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