Letting agency of 20 years has disappeared - Trying to find my tenant's deposit.

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Shouldknowbetter
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I am the owner of a property that for almost 20 years I have rented out through an agent - Zone Property Management and Lettings Services - which was originally based in London E11, but last year moved to an address out in Essex. They dealt with everything including finding tenants, reference checks, deposits, getting and passing on the rent, gas safety, everything.
Until 2 years ago it had worked like a dream, but since then it's been increasingly difficult to get the rent from them - needing at least one reminder call each month, sometimes two. There was always an excuse, someone was on maternity leave, a new bank system, etc, etc
In March I went to see the tenant and discovered that, because of some issues he had with charges the agent wanted to implement, he had not signed a new AST in almost 3 years and as such had gained Statutory Periodic Tenancy status. He also told me that the agency were about to implement a rent rise I knew nothing about, and that he was sure that there had been no gas safety check for over a year.
To protect myself, and because he's a very good tenant, I decided to take the property out of their management by issuing him a new AST myself, telling him to pay me direct and by getting the gas safety checked myself.
I've written to the agency, ceasing their management role for breach of contract and asking for the outstanding rent and the transfer of the tenants deposit but, not surprisingly, I've had no reply and their phone now goes to answerphone or just rings out.
I'm expecting never to see the outstanding rent - my main concern is the tenants deposit. He has paperwork which says it was protected by TDS - but TDS says that last year all of the agent's deposits were transferred to DPS when Zone was allegedly bought by another company - Beev Ltd (this company is supposedly registered at the same E11 address as Zone left last year, but the current occupiers genuinely seem not to know who they are).
DPS have no record of the tenants deposit and neither do MyDeposits. I naively assumed it would be ring fenced somewhere and on the advice of TDS (before the agent disappeared) I registered the deposit myself, even though I didn't have it, so that it could be transferred to me by Zone.
Any thoughts about what my options are now?
Thanks
A.
21/07/2014 12:09

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