A UEA student has found himself £830 out of pocket, having not received his deposit despite leaving his flat almost a year ago.
23-year-old Film student Tom Hall, and his girlfriend Cassie Healey, have been ‘powerless’ to take any action against their landlord due to the type of document signed. Instead of signing a shorthold tenancy document, which requires landlords to protect their tenants’ deposit, Tom and Cassie signed a licence to occupy agreement which gives them fewer rights.
Because of the nature of the document, it is unlikely that Tom and Cassie will get back their money, even if they go to court. The tenants were told that their deposit would be used to pay their last month’s rent, but by this point they had already paid for rent and were trying to get the deposit back.
The estate agents, Max Estates, last contacted the tenants in December 2016. Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press, Tom said he “tried to contact [the estate agent] twice a week for about a month. They’ve ignored emails since. We just felt completely powerless.”
Since then, Tom and Cassie’s story has been reported on BBC one’s ‘Rip Off Britain’, which showed another case in Berkshire where another tenant of Max Estates faced the same problems.
The show reminded new tenants to carefully check what to check the documents they were signing, and the protections they offered.
Speaking to Concrete, Tom Hall said his main advice for students “would be to make sure what you’re getting into before you sign anything. In particular, avoid licence to occupy agreements and make sure your deposit is going into a protection scheme.”
UEA students are encouraged to use Homerun – the SU’s approved service for renting accommodation off of campus, which lists trusted landlords and properties around Norwich.