Six University of Bristol students have won a legal battle with Digs Residential Lettings after a County Court Judge ruled in their favour, the letting agent have already seen negative press when back in November 2016, students demonstrated outside their head office in Clifton in protest at the ‘poor condition’ of their accommodation.
The six flatmates were sent a letter by Digs before they had even moved out of their flat saying they were to have £756 deducted from their rental deposit, the charges included £200 to fully repaint the house, £500 cleaning costs, rubbish removal and new mattress covers.
The flat which is situated above Urban Tiger strip club in Bristol had visible issues before the flatmates moved in, thankfully they had proof of this which was shown in court and most likely helped their case no end.
Digs Residential Lettings, acting on behalf of landlord company AvonCo (Bristol) Limited, were ordered to repay the charges in full, plus interest and legal costs.
Third-year biology student Ed Straw (one of the six), aged 20 said:
‘I got handed the cheque for £865 [at my front door] whilst still in my dressing gown.
‘There was no other alternative to get our money back but to go to court. They were just waiting for us to get bored and to stop emailing them.’
‘Practical advice I can give to other people is take photos because it’s evidence to show that your flat was in terrible condition and it greatly strengthens your case.
‘In terms of taking them to court you just have to persevere. It’s really not that hard.’
‘The flat was filthy when we got it, and clean when we left it.
‘We moved into the flat in a terrible condition, there was mould on all the windows, chewing gum stuck to the carpets. We took photos of it all but didn’t think much more of it.
‘One of us was still in the flat when the cleaners came, so we didn’t get given a chance to do a final clean, this was a breach of contract.’
Digs were not represented in court but managing director Steven Harris said:
‘Renting out student properties can be a mindfield for all parties concerned. Digs in Bristol work very hard to ensure this process runs smoothly.
‘We’re extremely disappointed that the deductions charged to Ed Straw and his fellow tenants led to him taking the Landlord to court and in all instances we work towards a more amicable solution.
‘Whilst we would have hoped to resolve the issue through the free dispute resolution service, Ed would not consider this option.
‘We also offered a settlement but again Ed was not prepared to accept anything less than the full amount.
‘Whilst the court system is there to be used Digs hope that their tenants do not feel the need to go down this route.
‘Having managed 8,000 tenancies in total it is the first time this has happened and we firmly believe it will be the last.’
How do I avoid this?
- Take DETAILED + DATED photographs of all damage & issues in the house and make a note of it on the paperwork BEFORE you sign up to live there
- Properly store those photographs and get it backed up in multiple ways
- Ensure you go with a reputable company, speaking with other tenants in the local area might help.
How do I complain about a letting agent?
Letting agents MUST belong to a Government-approved scheme that is ready to deal with complaints, if the agency doesn’t handle your complaint properly then you should complain to the scheme that the company is registered with, enter the address of your letting agent on these websites until you find the one they’re registered with:
- The Property Ombudsman http://www.tpos.co.uk
- Ombudsman Services http://www.ombudsman-services.org
- Property Redress Scheme http://www.theprs.co.uk
Article via Metro, photos by SWNS