Friday 9 May 2014

Housinghypocrisy/Facts not fiction DPS ruling

Statement of fact from Housemartins Estate agents Limited.

Housemartins is a local estate agents owned by Ray Woolford. Our services include running a lettings agency for landlords.

Ray is standing for election in New Cross as a candidate for Lewisham People Before Profit, a local political party with a history of championing tenants' rights and housing issues.

There has been a problem regarding a tenancy which has been misrepresented in leaflets being circulated and on the internet and Twitter.

I hope in this letter to set down a timeline of what has happened in order to clarify the situation and lay to rest allegations which appear to be politically motivated, just days before the local elections.

1. In February 2013 Housemartins was instructed to let out a newly refurbished period garden basement flat in New Cross.  The Landlord was new to Housemartins, but as the flat seemed to be well maintained we accepted the property and secured a tenant under an assured short hold tenancy agreement of one year.
The deposit of £1650 taken was placed in the government approved Deposit Protection Service where it remains out of the control of both Housemartins and the Landlord.

2. During the very wet winter it became clear that the needed remedial work.  It had become very damp and further problems were caused from the flat above flooding the tenant and causing electrical problems and damage. With small children we had very real concerns.

3. The legal obligation on the Landlord is that 2 months written notice must be given to terminate a tenancy. In this case it was an official letter to confirm that the landlord would not be renewing the lease when it expired on 8th March 2014.  This was signed and delivered on behalf of the Landlord on 24th December 2013, Christmas eve.  We agree that this was an insensitive date to choose and are extremely sorry that a breakdown in our internal communications has led anger and upset. The tenant was NOT evicted on Christmas Eve or at any time as stated in the leaflet being distributed.

4. The tenant moved out on 10th February 2014 and the flat was handed over to our staff. There had been various electrical and other remedial work carried out during the tenancy but the only damage we were away of was a broken cooker hob glass cover.

5.  The landlord has submitted a list of defects he alleges occurred during the tenancy and is asking the Deposit Protection Service to withhold over £1000 of the deposit. This appears to us to be unreasonable and we are prepared to give evidence to the Tribunal which arbitrates in such disputes.  The flat needs renovation by the Landlord and any wear and tear caused by the tenant and her children should be regarded as normal.

6. Since the problems have arisen, Housemartins have offered support to this tenant in writing and in person to ensure the DPS returns her deposit. The delay is because the Landlord has taken a long time in submitting his objections. Our support for this tenant has led to the Landlord terminating our contract as his agent as a direct result of our support for and help to this tenant.

7. It has been alleged that as an estate agent we have held the tenant's deposit. As a fully certified estate agent we only use the government accredited, independet deposit holders - it is not possible for us to hold or return a deposit.


We hope that by giving a timeline of the events and explaining the actions we have taken to support the tenant that any spurious claims can now be laid to bed.

Ray Woolford,


DEPOSIT ID: 13357278
Sami El Titi Landlord
Venice Allan Tenant

Reference to Adjudication
1. A dispute has arisen between the parties over the Deposit paid to the Landlord at the commencement of the tenancy which being unable to resolve they have agreed to refer to adjudication under the ADR Rules of the Deposit Protection Service (DPS Rules). In accordance with the DPS terms and conditions, I confirm that I am qualified to adjudicate this claim, as I hold CILEx Level 6 qualifications.
Submissions and Evidence
2. The parties have made the following submissions:
i) Submissions by way of Statutory Declaration of Agent/Landlord made in accordance with Schedule 10 of the Housing Act 2004 and supporting documents dated 26th April 2014.
ii) Submissions by way of emails from the Tenant and supporting documents dated 22nd May 2014 and 23rd June 2014.
3. I have been provided with the following evidence by the parties:
Photographic evidence of the condition of the property – undated.
Statement of Ray Woodford – undated.

The Deposit
4. The Tenant paid a deposit of £1662.00 to the Landlord at the beginning of the Tenancy. The sum of £1200.00 is currently in dispute. The sum of £462.00 has been returned to the Tenant.
The Dispute
5. The Landlord is seeking to retain £1200.00 of the deposit in order to compensate for damage caused to property contents.
6. The Tenant disputes the Landlord’s claim and seeks the return of the deposit funds.
Reasons for Decision
7. All the parties are conversant with the facts of this case and the issues raised. I do not propose to recount all the facts of this case in the same manner and order as the parties have done in their respective documents, save where necessary for the purposes of this Decision. I have also carefully considered all documents submitted by the parties in support of their submissions, and the parties should be reassured that the fact I do not refer to a particular document or point specifically, should not be construed to mean that I have not considered that document or point.
8. The Deposit Protection Service Terms and Conditions state that the Deposit is any single amount to be paid by the Tenant to the Landlord under the Tenancy Agreement as security against the performance of the Tenant’s obligations under the Tenancy Agreement, the discharge of any liabilities, any damage to the property and/or non-payment of rent during the tenancy. In the absence of sufficient evidence provided by the Landlord in support of their claims, and in particular of any evidence showing the Tenant’s contractual obligations by way of a signed tenancy agreement, and any evidence of the condition of the property at the commencement and end of the tenancy such as a check in and check out inventory, I am unable to find any failures or breaches of the Tenant’s obligations, any evidence of failure by the Tenant in the discharge of any liabilities, any evidence of damage caused to the property by the Tenant, or any evidence of non-payment of rent during the tenancy.
9. In the absence of sufficient evidence showing that the Tenant is liable for any of the deductions claimed by the Landlord, the Landlord’s claim fails and I direct the immediate return of the full sum of the Deposit to the Tenant.
10. I NOW having considered the submissions of the parties and the documents provided to me HEREBY DECIDE AND DIRECT that:
i) The Landlord’s claim fails
ii) The Deposit Protection Service shall return the disputed sum of £1200.00 to the Tenant.

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