A former tenant has failed in a claim for damages over and above the return of his deposit, in a ruling that has demonstrated the limitations placed on tenants’ rights under Section 214 of the Housing Act 2004. This legislation gives a tenant the right to redress if a landlord fails to pay the tenant’s deposit into an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme.
Mr Troisi was a tenant of Mr Vince. He rented a property in Redhill, Surrey, under an assured shorthold tenancy. The tenancy began in January 2010 and Mr Troisi vacated the premises in July 2010. New tenants were in occupation of the premises by 3 September 2010. Mr Vince did not pay Mr Troisi’s deposit into an approved scheme.
When Mr Vince refused to return the whole of Mr Troisi’s £800 deposit, Mr Troisi entered a claim in the Staines County Court for the return of the deposit plus three times that amount. Mr Vince then paid the deposit into an approved scheme.
On hearing the claim in February 2011, the District Judge ordered the return of the whole of the deposit plus a payment of three times that amount, as allowed under Section 214 of the Act. The judge also made an order for costs against Mr Vince.
Mr Vince’s appeal against this decision was heard at Guildford County Court on 23 June 2011. The County Court upheld the order for the return of the whole of the deposit, but the order for payment of three times the deposit and the order to pay costs were reversed.
When Mr Troisi applied for leave to appeal against the second and third parts of the County Court judgment, his application was refused. When he made a second application, Mr Troisi was told that in order to rely on Section 214, he would need to have applied while still a tenant. Mr Troisi argued that he was still a tenant by virtue of the outstanding financial dispute. This argument was not accepted, however. It was ruled that, in order to be an existing tenant, Mr Troisi would have to have still been resident at the premises at the time of application. Given that new tenants had arrived and taken up residency before the application was made, it could not be accepted that Mr Troisi was still a tenant.
As regards the question of costs (estimated by Mr Troisi at around £985), it was held that the County Court Judge was entitled to use his discretion on the matter and there was no issue of principle for the Court of Appeal to hear. Furthermore, Mr Vince had offered to pay £600 of the deposit back to Mr Troisi, leaving only £200 at issue.
There being no real prospect that Mr Troisi would succeed on appeal on either issue, leave to appeal was denied.