Here is a question to the blog clinic asked by Laura on behalf of her daughter
My daughter entered into a tenancy agreement in a flat share with another student (who she only knew from the university as someone wanting to flat share). They each paid their deposit separately and their own monthly rent also.
At the end of the tenancy my daughter now has been told by the letting agents, who took over managing the property half way through that the other tenant is to get my daughters deposit, even though it was paid separately. they have explained that it was because the other tenant was named as lead tenant.
My daughter remembers asking at the time what the implications of who was named as lead tenant were, to be told by the letting agents that it didn’t matter , that someone just needed to be named.
We have found out that the Deposit is held in the Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) but the other tenant will have received information and an ID number, and that my daughter cannot even discuss or request her deposit to be returned separately.
Also the other tenant has told the letting agents that she believes she is entitled to all of the deposit as my daughter owed money for her share of bills. This is completely untrue and we do have proof that my daughter has in fact paid £200 more towards the bills.
NB The other tenant had initially told the Water company that the refund for the overpayment was hers as she had paid the bills. Thankfully they contacted my daughter and asked both of them for proof of what they had paid. My daughter could prove she had paid half. The other tenant could only prove that she had paid half NOT the full bill as she had told the water company!- so each were paid separately half of the overpayment-
This perhaps shows what we are up against! How do we get my daughter’s £375 deposit back? (PS the other tenant has not left a forwarding address with the letting agent).
This is an example of why you need to be careful about signing up to share a rented property with someone you do not know very well.
The DPS is a big organisation and deals with many deposits. They need a procedure to allow them to refund the deposit promptly if there is more than one tenant.
This is why there is the ‘lead tenant’ procedure. It is after all not the fault of the DPS if the tenants are in disagreement, or if the lead tenant is behaving in a dishonest manner. If they had to sort out all the arguments between joint tenants it would make the scheme unworkable.
I have had a quick look at the terms and conditions of the scheme (which you will find online here ) and they make it clear that the lead tenant has the responsibility of dealing with the deposit on behalf of all the tenants.
It rather looks as if it would have been possible for your daughters deposit to have been protected separately. Where this is not done, the landlord (or in this case the agents) are supposed to explain the role of the lead tenant to the other tenants.
Clearly this was not done here.
If there is any time still to run on the tenancy, then one solution is for your daughter to underpay the last month’s rent so that this will be taken from the deposit before it is refunded to the lead tenant. However I suspect it is too late for this.
Therefore her only real remedy is to bring a claim against the lead tenant (if she can find her).
There may possibly be some sort of claim against the landlord for failing to explain things properly to her, but I don’t hold out much hope for this. (The claim cannot be made against the agents as they are not directly liable to third parties/tenants in this sort of situation as they are representing the landlord).
I am sorry to be the bringer of bad news. It just shows how careful you need to be when renting property with other people.