When arbitration isn't appropriate.....Tenancy Deposits
7 years ago
One of the four students was a wheelchair user. This was his second joint and several AST with me. It was created because one of the 3 lads he had shared with on his first tenancy (lasting two years) quit his course and we had to find a student to replace him. The shared areas of the house had to be cleaned and brought up to standard so that I could audit it for the purposes of collecting a deposit from the 'new' boy and return this fairly a year later.
As it was clear the disabled student wasn't physically capable of cleaning duties, I asked him how this was to be managed after his second year. He (and the other 3) were happy for cleaners to come in and the cost deducted from their current deposit and split 4 ways. There were no complaints and the residue of the deposit was used to create the second joint and several AST with the new boy adding his share - £200.
When it came to ending the tenancy for these by-now third year students earlier this year, I asked again about their plans for cleaning. The only tenant to reply was the disabled one who agreed for me to do 'the same as last year' i.e. send the cleaners in. These were booked for the dates agreed with the tenant and duly paid from the deposit held and receipts issued - same as the year before.
What makes matters worse is that the tenants did nothing to officially end their tenancy in terms of paying their final bills, cancelling internet or removing their stuff. They turned up on the last day (only two students returned keys) and didn't collect their possessions. The next tenancy began with the new tenants not having use of the shed (I had nowhere to store the old tenants' stuff). Bills weren't being paid so I've had notify all utilities, phone companies, internet supplier with their home addresses.
The ex-tenants were sent a computation of the deductions per study bedroom and the common areas deducted in a quarter share to each tenant. Overall, each student got roughly £50 back from their £200 each deposit. (A huge amount of extra work was incurred which isn't reflected in the deposit retained).
Before the computation was completed, the new boy's parents 'demanded' a return of their son's deposit in full. It was nothing to do them as they weren't a party to the tenancy, but I did reply saying receipts were still awaited. Everything was sent out to the ex-tenants on the 10th day.
The new boy's father then began to blackmail me. Unless he received his son's deposit in full he would instigate collective action against me. Much to my dismay, by the time I was given news of a potential dispute, I discovered that my|deposits had involved themselves in a full blown discussion on this tenancy with the new boy's father, who has no factual knowledge of it whatsoever.
I reminded my|deposits that this parent had NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS TENANCY which they could see by looking at the deposit certificate. It made no difference! Challenged again, they said they had his son's permission to intervene. No, I said... it was a joint and several tenancy and all other three were not complaining. This made no difference. I copied them in on the email/blackmail - and this made no difference, either!
My point is that this tenancy agreement is the private business of the tenants and myself. Arrangements I made to accommodate a wheelchair-using student are between him and me and are nobody else's business - and even without that, the students have a right to privacy over what was their home. If they chose to live like pigs, that was their choice. How the household managed or shared their cleaning with one who couldn't participate, however, was nothing to do with me. The original sharers knew each other before they came my way and the new boy met the rest of the household before he moved in.
All four lads knew they were leaving on 30 June 2014 as they had sat their finals. They made no attempt to conclude their living arrangements or wind up their bills. Only one tenant was in situ. I got involved when time to clean and make repairs etc was running out prior to the commencement of the next tenancy on 01 July. I had the permission of the wheel-chair user to do so but I also voluntarily refunded each tenant a week's rent (which nobody objected to).
The new boy's father did not receive his son's deposit returned in full for all the reasons stated above. He has since carried out his threat and instigated collective action against me with my|deposits. He's happy that by not returning £100 to him as demanded I'll now deprived of £600 for a long time while this gets sorted out.
my|deposits insist their ADR process is fair. How this can be the case when they hold negative discussions about your business affairs behind your back with third parties?
I've opted out of the ADR process and won't be using my|deposits again once my current tenancies have ended. This case is going to Court for a decision instead. It probably will cost me more time and more money than refunding new boy's father... but I just can't let myself be blackmailed by a third party nor can I condone the actions an industry 'supplier' that allows this to happen.
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