Tenant who keeps keys loses full deposit

Posted: 8/7/2021


A tenant of a property that we let and manage has lost her full deposit because she refused to return the keys. The tenant deliberately held the keys and stated that she would not return them until she received her full deposit back. The deposit was lodged in the TDS, as per deposit protection rules, so neither we nor the landlord actually held the deposit. This was explained to her repeatedly by both us and the TDS. However, she demanded that we pay her the full deposit before even leaving the property and checking for damages, a completely unreasonable request. The property developed some faults in March, and we sent contractors to repair those faults. Our tenancy agreement stated that no compensation would be paid for such incidents and that no money could be withheld from the rent. But without even discussing it, the tenant failed to pay the full rent. As an agent, we really earn our money for landlords when dealing with these issues and trying to resolve them to both the landlord and tenant's satisfaction. In this case, both parties were happy to end the tenancy early. Part of the proposed deal was that we drafted was that the tenant would receive her full deposit back after key handover and checks. But the tenant was having none of this reasonable resolution and stated that she would leave and hand over the keys when she was paid her deposit. The tenant left the property without any agreement being finalised and never returned the keys. We charged her one month extra rent as she was required to give one month's notice, the charge for changing the locks, and some minor costs for damage to a wall. This all exceeded the deposit, so we claimed it in full from the TDS. The tenant objected and refused to enter into discussions to resolve the matter, so it proceeded to the TDS adjudication process. The adjudicator agreed with us: she was due extra rent, the costs for the locks and the damages. Importantly the adjudicator also ruled that the tenant was wrong to withhold rent as this was prohibited under the tenancy agreement. In this case the tenant could have received her full deposit back, minus a small amount for damages, but her unreasonableness lost her the entire amount. For us as agents, we put a lot of extra time into this case to ensure the right outcome for our client, the landlord. Our experience helps us to get the best outcome in deposit disputes - how to try and resolve them early but when this fails, how to submit a successful claim. That is all included in our monthly fee, and we don't charge any extra meaning the landlord receives the full deposit...and as a small business we don't charge any VAT!

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