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London Letting Agency Ordered to Refund Tenant’s Deposit After Dispute

Cedar Estates, a letting agency located in West Hampstead, North London, has been ordered by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) to refund a significant portion of a tenancy deposit that was initially withheld for alleged rent arrears, cleaning, and damages. This ruling marks a significant victory for tenants facing unjust deposit deductions.

Tenant Triumphs in Tenancy Deposit Dispute
Charity worker Hadley, 34, and her flatmate engaged in a lengthy battle against Cedar Estates over their £2,225 deposit, from which £1,725 was withheld by the agency to ostensibly cover various expenses including rent arrears, cleaning fees, and damages. After a rigorous dispute process with the TDS, Hadley and her flatmate were awarded £1,655, marking a considerable win against unfair practices by letting agents.

Contested Charges and the Fight for Fairness
The dispute arose when Hadley and her flatmate were informed of a substantial rent increase, prompting their decision to move out. Despite their efforts to leave the property in pristine condition, including hiring a professional gardener and extensive cleaning efforts by Hadley’s mother, Cedar Estates claimed £1,305 for supposed rent arrears, £150 for a broken bathroom sink, and £270 for cleaning fees. Hadley contended, “We had paid all of our rent, there were no rent arrears whatsoever.”

TDS Sides with Tenants, Cedar Estates Appeals Decision
The TDS’s decision on 14 December favored Hadley, acknowledging that despite the landlord’s failure to sign the Deed of Surrender, the tenants had fulfilled their obligations. The agency’s appeal to the TDS ruling resulted in a delay, but ultimately Hadley was able to recover an additional £98 from overpaid council tax, highlighting the broader implications of deposit disputes on tenants’ financial responsibilities.

This case sheds light on the challenges tenants face in securing the return of their deposits and underscores the importance of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme in adjudicating such disputes. Camden Council’s response to the situation emphasises their commitment to assisting residents, albeit within the constraints posed by ongoing disputes between tenants and landlords.