Return holding deposit

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We took £500 holding deposit from a potential tenant. On the move in day, she complained about the condition of the place (which was the same as when she viewed a couple of weeks ago before the move in date and confirmed by the inventory clerk) and refused to move in. She demanded a later move in date, and asked us to pay for a few works (including changing carpet in one room and paint walls etc.) which was agreed in principle on the day. They said they'd go away and get quotes themselves. We didn’t hear from them for a week so we decided to put the place back on the market again and started showing others the place, when she got in touch again and asked for access to the property by workman to give quote. Again, we tried to cooperate but heard nothing for a couple of days. We lost trust in her and so were about to accept an offer from another tenant. She then got in touch again and asked to access the property the next day for quote. We said it is ok only if you pay the full move in balance, i.e. first month rent and deposit by close of business that day as otherwise we’d offer it to someone else without losing them. They refused to do this so we went to let it to that other tenant. They now demand the return of the holding deposit.
The RLA holding deposit form was sent to them by email before they paid but was never signed. This is one of their arguments. Another was they claimed we showed the flat to others after we took their deposit which was in breach of contract. We explained that even though the form was never signed but they had chance to read the terms before transferring the money and that we had no obligation to hold the property for them after they failed to move in on the agreed date. We offered to return half of the holding deposit to them as goodwill gesture but they refused to accept that. They now asked us to transfer that half ‘agreed’ and seek legal advice for the remaining half. Shall we transfer the half now without jeopardising our position? Are they even entitled to any at all? So far we have incurred inventory costs on the day they were supposed to move in and lost opportunities as we cancelled viewings after they paid the holding deposit until a week later.

05/07/2018 10:03

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