Should I have told tenant their deposit would be withheld?

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M
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My tenant signed a fixed term 12 month tenancy agreement but wanted to move out after 6 months. The contract (the RLA 2007 tenancy agreement) is quite clear that all reasonable costs relating to reletting will be held from the deposit.

From her deposit I have deducted:
1. the void period (1 week)
2. the difference in rent I am now achieving until the end of when her tenancy would have finished
3. a proportion of the letting agent's fees (pro rata the period until her tenancy would have finished)

She is now disputing this. Before she moved out she repeatedly asked when I was going to pay the deposit back but I did not say or imply that I would, however I didn't say I wouldn't. She also offered to find a new tenant but I declined as I wanted a professional experienced letting agent to find a suitable tenant.

Would she now have grounds to reclaim her deposit because I did not warn her in advance? I thought as it was so clear in the contract there was no disputing this but the My Deposit scheme has asked for me to pay the deposit into their account pending a decision. Was I right to withhold the money for the letting agent bearing in mind she offered to help find a new tenant?

Also what would I do in the future if this happens again? I would not want to risk the tenant not paying the last month's rent or not moving out and not paying rent etc if they thought they wouldn't get the deposit back. Provided I do not state I will return the deposit or imply I will am I in the wrong not to point out what is so clear in the contract?

Thanks for your input.

27/03/2009 00:00

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