Legal Loopholes_who is responsible for monitoring deposit protection schemes (DPS) when they go wron

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I am a landlord with a portfolio of my own properties and personally I dont take bonds/deposits as I dont believe they work in the houseshare market I deal with which is mainly corporate relocations.

However occasionally I become the tenant, as when I have too many employees to place, I rent houses and with full permission of the owners & then sub contract/re rent them out. I have to say that wearing my "tenants hat", my experience with some letting agents has been awful and the chance of anyone getting a bond back in my experience is not good.

Recently I rented a property from PPM Wigan for 2 years and got it for a reasonable price in times when it was hard to rent property. However then the property market became buoyant and the letting agency (PPM Wigan) saaw the chance of getting more money, they issued me with a Section 21 to get me out of the property so they could rent the house for a better price now. I was given 2 months to leave, but I managed to relocate my clients and I handed the keys back within 2 weeks....fully paid up (as can be shown on my bank statements and as I am a business, audited by an accountant).

The house was a lovely detached property for professionals and when we left we had the "white carpets" cleaned, as well as the house cleaned and gardens brought up to scratch. However the Letting agency kicked up a fuss about minor stupid things and made it clear I would never get my deposit back, even though it was in a DP scheme. As a landlord who doesnt take bonds, I knew nothing about these schemes but the agents seemed very confident I would never see my money again. They had good reason to be confident as they had discovered a legal loop hole in the system.

I refused to sign their final inspection form and because I disputed their claims, I requested that an independent assessor be allowed in to inspect the home as I did not believe or trust their judgement as to its condition. The assessor was not allowed entry.

PPM rentals would not give me my deposit ID number and despite many emails the “Deposit Protection Scheme” agency known as DPS failed to respond. I emailed DPS several times to inform them that the bond was in dispute, quoting the address only as I didnt have an ID number. I then consulted a solicitor with a view to going to a small claims court.

However here comes the legal loophole: DPS gave my full £750 bond back to the letting agency without my permission. HOW? Oh easy....The agency had apparently sited “Rent arrears, damages, cleaning & replacement items” as the reason for reclaiming my bond and completed a Statutory Declaration, in accordance with Section 21 of the DP companies Terms and Conditions countersigned by a solicitor.

I had bank and accountancy records which showed zero bank arrears. Aside from one door which I would have replaced, there were no other damages. Had I known about these accusations I would have contested them, but I didnt. Why didnt I know - because after I had handed the keys back on Aug 17th 2011, the DPS wrote to me in Nov 2011 at the rental address and giving me 2 weeks to respond and my failure to do so would result in my money being returned to the agency. So question: How could I pick the letter up when I was no longer a tenant of the property. It seems this is legally acceptable practice. I argued with DPS that surely every tenant seeking a return of bond would never live at the former property, so why is it DPS policy to do write to them at an address they no longer live. This was not sent by registered post, and yet that letter had a value of £750 to me.

The only contact details the letting agency gave to DPS was my email address. So I asked DPS why they had not tried to contact me via my email address. They had no reply.

I asked if there was a governing body I could go to in order to complain about the practice of both the letting agency and DPS- and I was simply told "CAB".

I am shocked that an organisation who were supposed to be fair and protect the interest of both parties, in this instance protected the letting agency and just gave my money away despite around 20 to 30 emails to them from me informing them this was a bond in dispute. It seems I have no legal recourse and have to just give up.

The original solicitor I got to process this dispute as a small claims, could not be bother to go through with this (I got there details from this site), but didnt even inform me they had not processed anything. They returned the court fees and their fees back to me in full.

I suspect I will have to just walk away from this, but how many other tenants get stung with DPS and this loophole. Its just not fair, its legal theft. Thats my rant don with and as both a tenant and a landlord I can see 2 sides to every story. If anyone knows which body I can go to in order to complain about the Letting agent PPM of Wigan and DPS, then I will follow it through!

PS: I dont recommend DPS

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09/02/2012 00:00

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