These Bristol students took their letting agent to court and won £800

‘I got handed the cheque while still in my dressing gown by the owner of DIGS’

A flat of six students took DIGS to court last week over unreasonable deductions from their deposit and won.

The six students were charged £126 pounds each, amounting to a total of £756 for the following:

• £504 for cleaning

• £200 for repainting

• £27 for rubbish

• £25 for mattress covers

Ed Straw, one of the tenants spoke to the Tab about his understandable outrage and why he refuted the charges.

“The flat was filthy when we got it, and clean when we left it. One of us was still in the flat when the cleaners arrived, so we didn’t get given a chance to do a final clean. This was a breach of contract.”

DIGS charged the tenants for a full repaint of the house, but when Ed went to ask the current tenants if he could see the flat once they’d moved out, it transpired that DIGS hadn’t repainted the flat. They’d only painted over “a patch of mould.”

The rubbish cost was a breach of contract as they aggregated the charge across 732 students, this is something which they can’t do according to the tenancy agreement.

The cost of mattress covers at £25 was also felt to be unjustified, and they failed to provide receipts for them despite repeated requests.

After a series of emails expressing these complaints, DIGS failed to give any legitimate argument as to why they took the money, and “completely didn’t answer questions raised.” Ed pursued and stated that he would move to “recover the monies through the courts”, if he didn’t get receipts for the work they’d done and a proper explanation.

Ed Straw: housing hero, bird lover, 3rd year student

He stuck to his word and submitted evidence to court including a series of photos before and after the tenancy and his email correspondence with DIGS. When it came to the hearing, nobody turned up to represent DIGS.

“The judge basically read the evidence I’d submitted asked a few questions then asked how much money we wanted and gave it to us.”

The judge ordered them to pay the full £756 back, as well as £30 in interest (8% apr) and £85 in legal cost. Ed summarised, “it cost DIGS £115 to try and keep my deposit.”

A court order demanding payment to the tenants was sent to DIGS, but when Ed Straw went in to talk to them about repayment, they said they’d forgotten to go to court and wanted to appeal the decision.

“I asked a law student if you can appeal a decision based on forgetting to go to court and she laughed at me.”

A week later the general manager of DIGS personally delivered the cheque to their door. “I got handed the cheque for £865 whilst still in my dressing gown.”

Ed urges others not to be intimidated by the judicial process.

“You don’t need a lawyer or solicitor to sue your landlord, I managed to do it with just a bit of help from my family and flatmates. You’ve got 3 months from the return of the deposit to begin court proceedings.”

On their website, Digs pride themselves on their ‘good service’ and ‘experienced maintenance team on hand 24 hours a day with safety and security of a high importance for both our Landlords and Tenants’.

Ed stands amongst many others who dispute this claim.

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University of Bristol