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An agent handles the letting and AST. I manage the rental. Two years ago, three business women moved into the property. The original two have renewed for a third year. Very happy in the house and good tenants. There has been a "churn" on the front bedroom. It has turned over 3 times. The ladies find a sharer, the agent references the sharer.

The total deposit is held and protected by the TDS. This was done at the start of the tenancy in March 2014.

When a new person comes in to the front bedroom, the tenants have taken a deposit from her and hold it in a "house" account. I do not get involved. It is an arrangement between them.

The agent has the new incoming tenant and the existing tenants sign a Letter of Substitution and a Memorandum of Tenancy Agreement. This says that the new tenant has read and understood the Notices served under the Houseing Act 1988.....and agrees to be bound by the T's and C's therein.

In February, the tenant in the front room left. The wardrobe was damaged and needed repainting and the room was not cleaned to a good standard. The entire house underwent a deep, end of tenancy clean, three months previously (paid for by landlord).

The sum to clean and paint the front room was 128. Invoices were submitted. The leaving tenant refused to pay asking for the deposit to be refunded.

Additionally, in seeking advice from the agent (not much help) and the TDS - it was explained to me that the TDS could not arbitrate in this matter until the whole tenancy came to a lawful end. The original tenants have just renewed for another year.

Also, in speaking with the TDS, I was informed that I could also claim for exporatory work done when the tenant insisted there was water leaking into her wardrobe and damaging her posessions. It transpired that she had, in fact, let a guest use her room and the damp was from a spilt bottle of water. The bill was 492 for three days work.

The tenant has refused to accept this and has been quite unpleasant to the existing tenants who are relieved she has left. They still hold her deposit but have been told by Shelter, CAB and others that this is illegal! The agent is taking no responsibility saying they have never had this situation before when tenants have disagreed on fair and reasonable deductions from a deposit.

I've been told to seek legal advice.

Can you help?
1. How best to handle this present situation and do I have a right to claim.
2. Does the fact that the new tenant gave a sum of money to the exisiting tenants constitute an "agreement" that it was a security deposit and would be used, with proof, to restore the room to the state it was at start of tenancy, allowing for fair wear and tear.
3. How could the agent have handled this in a better way to protect the landlord and the tenants. The agent charges the tenants 280 each time the room changes tenants and me 60.
4. What can I do now, with the new tenant coming in, to make sure that I don't suffer financially should the tenants fall out over lawful deductions, per the AST?

Thank you.
01/04/2016 17:18

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