Deposit Return Dispute - Landlord Never Placed Deposit with a Scheme
My wife and I are not UK natives and moved out of a flat in London this past August and were patiently waiting for our landlord to return our deposit. A few weeks (more than 20 days) went by and I checked with the deposit holder listed in our tenancy agreement to see if they had received any claim from the landlord against our deposit. The agency replied and stated that they never received a deposit from our landlord regarding this property. I then checked with the other two agencies and neither of them had any record of receiving a deposit.
I contacted our landlord and requested that he return our deposit in full. He replied and stated that he would not be returning any of the deposit. He claimed that our cats had urinated throughout the flat and destroyed the carpet and some of the baseboard. He also claimed that we had violated our lease by keeping 8 cats in the flat (which is not true). We had paid for a professional cleaner to come in and clean the carpets and were satisfied with the result. Also, we had taken on an extra cat after moving in and when the landlord's workers saw the new cat the landlord requested that we pay an additional £50 per month in rent and I felt that was reasonable so I complied.
My questions are:
1) Obviously, the deposit should have been protected and it was not. I believe it is well within our rights to take the landlord to court and the landlord may have to pay 1 to 3 times the deposit as a fine. What is the likelihood that the court will award such damages and what factors does the court consider when deciding to penalise between 1 to 3 times the deposit amount?
2) The lease does not have a specific bar on the number of pets and I believed we settled this matter when I agreed to the additional rent. I donít believe it does, but does the extra cat somehow invalidate any of our rights under the tenancy agreement?
3) The landlord and his agents continually ignored our requests to fix a non-working tap in the bathroom and other issues. This issue was never resolved. Furthermore, there was damp throughout the flat for the entirety of our tenancy that was attended to once in only one of the many problem areas by the landlordís agents. I believe it is possible that this could have lead to structural damage to the flat, which we are now being held responsible for (i.e. damaged baseboards). Unfortunately, I am unable to substantiate our complaints with correspondence or pictures. How will this affect or ability to reclaim our deposit?
4) The landlord never performed a check in or check out and the flat was unfurnished. We have some photographic evidence of the state of the flat upon moving out and also a receipt for the carpet cleaners. How will this affect our ability to reclaim our deposit?
5) If the landlordís claims against us are successful and his repair costs are in excess of the deposit, will we be liable for such amounts?
6) The landlord has failed to comply with the terms of the lease by not placing our deposit with the named agency and never provided any notice of withholding our deposit within the prescribed time period (i.e. ten days after the end of the tenancy). Does this factor affect his ability to recover for his costs against our deposit (assuming they are validly deductible against our deposit)?
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