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BBC presenter accuses deposit scheme of denying ‘natural justice’ to tenants

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Fri 11 Jan 2019

BBC presenter accuses deposit scheme of denying ‘natural justice’ to tenants

A tenancy deposit scheme was accused on a national radio programme yesterday of denying tenants “natural justice”.

Winifred Robinson, presenter of BBC radio’s You and Yours, suggested to Eddie Hooker of MyDeposits that tenants were not given enough information, and that the scheme did not offer an appeals process.

Hooker totally refuted the claims.

The item on the programme began with Robinson saying that Generation Rent was accusing landlords and agents of unfairly hanging on to tenants’ deposits.

She also quoted Which?, saying that only one third of tenants were satisfied with the outcome when trying to get their deposit disputes resolved.

The case study in the programme was provided by Dr Lucy-Jane Davis, who said that she had paid a deposit of £1,575 for a property rented through an unnamed agent in Bristol.

When she moved out, the agent advised that the deposit could not be returned to her.

It told her that it would not be able to sort out the problem quickly, and advised her to raise a dispute with MyDeposits, which the programme described as having been set up by the National Landlords Association.

The tenant told the programme that she was unaware that the dispute was being referred to an independent adjudicator, and was also unaware of the reasons why the deposit was not being returned – saying these had not been explained to her.

It emerged that there were issues over cleaning, gardening – and light bulbs.

Dr Davis said that £800 had been withheld following the adjudication. She said this sum included £81 for six light bulbs.

In particular, she disputed the finding that £400 was being withheld for cleaning.

She told the programme that she had taken photographs of the property when she had both moved in and out – and that the home was clearly in a far better condition when she left.

She said that the deposit represented a massive sum of money to her, and that she could not afford to take the only appeal route open to her, to go to court.

Hooker told Robinson that he believed the adjudication was “reasonable and fair” based on the information that had been supplied, and on the evidence of check-in and check-out reports.

The tenant had received 60% of her deposit back, and Hooker said that his scheme had found in favour of tenants in more than 80% of cases.

He insisted that in this particular case, every effort had been made to explain the process to the tenant, and that the deadline had been extended by a week.

Robinson demanded to know why the scheme offers no appeals process against an adjudicator’s decision.

Hooker said that the “only process is through the courts”.

Robinson told him: “One landlord posted on Twitter that you are deliberately making it difficult.”