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Half of students don't get full deposits back from landlords

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Half of students don't get full deposits back from landlords

Postby Dolphin » Tue Nov 13, 2018 3:39 pm

Rogue landlords are routinely and illegally withholding deposits and subjecting tenants to surprise evictions. Often it is students and young adults early in their careers who are most vulnerable.

Frequently it will be middle-aged parents footing the bill or having to rehouse their grown-up children after what can be a traumatic time.

Evidence from multiple sources points to landlords regularly flouting existing laws – particularly when it comes to returning money stumped up as a deposit. This money should be placed in an impartial scheme.

But research by Nationwide Building Society indicates that half of students do not get their full deposit back while at university and that they lose an average £150. Eight in ten say their money was withheld unfairly.

Iain Macauley, from Cheshire, took up this fight for son Ben, whose deposit for £300 was withheld by a rogue landlord.

Ben was studying a Masters at university in Hertfordshire. It has taken nearly a year to get the money back – and was only finally paid after The Mail on Sunday intervened.

The landlord allowed a man to move in who was a stranger to the housemates, was not listed on the contract, did not pay a deposit and who started selling drugs from the premises.

Despite complaints from the other tenants, the landlord failed to act, even after a 4am police raid.

Eventually he turned up unannounced and told everyone to leave within three weeks. He later failed to repay deposits.

Iain had planned to chase the money in the small claims court – as another parent did successfully – but was finally repaid after The Mail on Sunday contacted the landlord. He says: ‘The apparently innocuous and respectable landlord was not everything he at first appeared.’

Research by comparison website comparethemarket reveals a third of renters know their landlords have not safely tucked away deposits in a protection scheme. One fifth claim they do not even have a formal contract to rent their homes.

Citizens Advice says half of renters are only shown their tenancy agreement after they have already put money down on the property.

Meanwhile, the number of private renters in the UK has doubled in a decade, helped in no small part by soaring house prices and wages that cannot keep pace, meaning fewer house-hunters can afford to buy.

Polly Neate, chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, says: ‘Every day our advisers hear from people trying to navigate the common pitfalls of renting – from unprotected deposits and unfair terms in tenancy agreements, to dangerous conditions.’

For information about renters’ rights visit the charity’s website at shelter.org.uk.

Chris Norris, of the National Landlords Association, says the vast majority of landlords are ‘good people’, but recommends tenants undergo basic checks before renting a property.

He says: ‘Check that the landlord or letting agent is a member of an organisation such as the NLA or the UK Association of Letting Agents.’
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