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Written by rosalind renshaw

A claims firm operating on a no-win, no-fee basis is claiming an overwhelming success rate for tenants who successfully claim against agents and landlords over tenancy deposit rules.

Bournemouth-based Tenants Deposit Claimline was registered last December and says that 92% of tenants who have filed a claim through it have been successful.

The business does not focus not on whether tenants’ deposits have been correctly protected, but simply on whether the tenants have received the right paperwork in the form of Prescribed Information.

The firm’s website says: “You may be entitled to compensation. You could claim up to three times your deposit on a successful claim.”

The service has a free telephone line and offers a £50 referral fee for leads that convert into business.

It is the first time we have spotted a claims firm operating in this sector, although the firm may well not be the only one.

However, only last week, specialist lawyer Tessa Shepperson advised landlords: “I have heard rumours that tenants are now starting to trawl through the regulations to see if they can find any errors in the Prescribed Information forms so they can prevent evictions taking place, so it is worth taking a bit of trouble over the form.”

Critics say that the law and the way it was written (and then amended) is a pig’s ear – and that it is loaded in favour of tenants, and against the simple principle of common sense.

Case law shows that a number of landlords who acted within the spirit of the law have been caught out simply because of a problem with their paperwork – and sometimes, a problem they didn’t know, and couldn’t have known, existed.

For example, talks are still going on into the recent Superstrike case, and what the implications are for landlords who thought they were only doing what the tenancy deposit schemes told them to – and now find they may have broken the law.

The schemes have still to issue definitive advice to agents and landlords with tenancies that went from fixed to statutory periodic.

In another recent county court case, a possession order was overturned because the landlord’s name and address did not appear on the Prescribed Information. The agent supplied their own details, saying they had simply used the template provided by the TDS.

This particular case has puzzled some experts who wondered how the tenant might have spotted a possible loophole.

Tenants Deposit Claimline is here:

http://tinyurl.com/qe9c7mm

Comments

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    @Andy

    Ban ambulances, then no chasers

    • 17 July 2013 18:11 PM
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    What next……… these ambulance chasers have no integrity and should be closed down immediately.

    • 16 July 2013 13:57 PM
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    What has to be remembered here, whether any of us likes it or not, is that not only is the Law the Law, there is no such thing as spirit of it (otherwise I would not have had 5 speeding fines in my 45 years driving!!) and the rules have been very clearly flagged up as needing to be abided by and respected.

    I have said before I don't care which way any of this goes as it makes not one jot of difference to me either way - I just want clarity as I advise clients on the law.

    Why is the PI as important as protection?

    Because the CoA has said so in two cases, Suurpere (where the lead Judge could not have been much clearer) and Ayannuga, where the agent was firmly told the Court would decide what mattered and whether omissions were technicalities, NOT the agent!!

    @ IHS – the PI requirements are very clear the problem is TDS screwed up – again.

    The ‘rent in advance case’ – Johnson was indeed very clear and obvious and nothing to do with common sense just stating what the Law says. Once it had been decided it was a 6 monthly rent that was due then the rent that was paid clearly was not a deposit. Lots of rent paid in advance is though so again safest to ignore the TDS interpretation of that one.

    The Landlord was very lucky in Johnson - had the CoA decided it was a monthly rent he'd have been sunk, and they could easily have done so given the mess the agent made of amending a perfectly good tenancy agreement.

    There have been those advising for several years – a minority and usually shouted down – that a periodic tenancy was a new tenancy and that the TDP provisions, both of them protect and PI – had to be followed. Like it or not this is the Law and a key fundamental part of it, and one that everyone had better acknowledge whether they like it or not, is that issuing PI that is CORRECT is just as important as protecting the deposit. It's simply a part of the process.

    • 16 July 2013 10:31 AM
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    Humans suffering the terrible consequences of GREED, and mutating into leeches...

    • 16 July 2013 10:16 AM
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    This is immoral. So how does this work then? Someone in their sleezy Bournemouth office trawls over paperwork to find that a typographical error in the paperwork and BINGO £4,000 compensation - and no, wait, let's write to all the properties advertised as LET with this agent and let the tenant know that the agent ****** up and they may be entitled to compensation when their tenancy expires - and BINGO - maybe another one or two several £1,000s, and hey presto, a professional sole practitioner goes out of business and probably suffers a heart attack due to the stress. But hey - No win no fee. And look how much money we made.

    • 16 July 2013 09:54 AM
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    And people wonder why agents admin fee's are so high? With the amount of time taken to ensure the landlord is protected, I think its worth every penny. I think now might be the time put them up !

    • 16 July 2013 09:47 AM
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    @Industry Observer - although I fully understand that the PI must contain the correct information (once someone tells us what that is!) it should not be used as a stick to beat the landlord if it is wrong in any way. Incorrect PI does not mean that the deposit is not protected and therefore Judges should use common sense in deciding whether the spirit of the legislation has been adhered to or not. The Appeal Court Judge in the 'rent in advance' case asked the rhetorical question 'what would the tenant have said if she had been asked to pay rent for one of the months that she had already paid in advance for' - the answer, of course, would have been 'I have already paid it' therefore proving that, in the tenants eyes, the advance payment was not a deposit but rent which was different to what she tried to claim at the end of her tenancy - a Judge with common sense!

    • 16 July 2013 09:38 AM
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    Been in this business for 30 years, wow the changes that have happened. It seems to me there are people out there trying to make a quick buck out of the poor letting agents/landlords and there are some good ones too !!. The tenant seems to be getting away with leaving the property in a disgusting state not paying their rent, and still able to claim 3 x the amount of deposit, and can then carry on living in the property rent free !!. This has really got to stop. !! Perhaps Agent/landlords can have a law abiding condition putting in place for the tenant to abide to or pay us a stress fee !!

    • 16 July 2013 09:25 AM
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    What I do not understand is why the fine is as severe for omitting a bit of information and not registering a deposit?

    Surely the key thing is that the deposit is registered in a scheme but why should the fine be the same across the board.

    It just seems overly harsh to me and it's not as thought it would affect the deposit, or would it?

    • 16 July 2013 09:11 AM
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    @IHS

    That's the whole problem - the deposit WAS NOT protected as required by Law. The TDP provisions require two actins to be correctly completed within 30 days of touching a new deposit, a renewal or a tenancy going periodic.

    The Statute allows an agent name instead of Landlord in the PI - what it does not allow is for anyone designing the form to state different information. The TDS template answered the question "Who is the deposit holder?" not name and address of Landlord (or their agent which the Statute allows).

    Any firm setting up this type of srvice will get plenty of business, because the majority of PI forms are incorrect, or incomplete. Possibly the vast majority especially for self-manging Landlords.

    ALL agent would be very well advised to trawl through all files and double check the existing latest PI they have and then decide what to do, if anything, about trying to perfect imperfection.

    • 16 July 2013 08:29 AM
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    Bearing in mind that only three in ten landlords that have submitted a deposit have told their tenants that they have done so, then we are clearly in the wrong job.

    • 16 July 2013 08:19 AM
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    Tenancy Deposit Protection was set up to ensure tenants deposits were protected - now the lawyers are trying to find loop holes to make money at landlords expense even though the deposit is protected as required by law - makes you want to vomit!

    • 16 July 2013 07:31 AM
Zero Deposit Zero Deposit Zero Deposit