A former tenant who paid out thousands for a room she could not live in has been unable to get her full deposit back.
On moving in to the Prince George Road property in Stoke Newington on 31 October last year, Marta Cremades found it infested with mice and said she was unable to sleep because of noise caused by the six other tenants living there, especially at night.
She immediately complained to the letting agent, London Corporate Apartments, but the problems remained unsolved for weeks. She then moved out in mid-December despite having a licence to occupy until 30 October 2018.
Last month (31 July), London Corporate Apartments offered to meet Ms Cremades following intervention by the Hackney Citizen. They initially offered Ms Cremades a refund of just £29.43, but then raised it to £699 – £60 short of her full tenancy deposit.
Speaking to the Hackney Citizen about her situation, Ms Cremades said: “I felt very under pressure to accept the partial return of my deposit, given the length of time this nightmare has been going on.
The whole thing has been unbearable, and I just wanted it to end.”
When she queried the shortfall she was asked by the letting agent whether she wanted to go to court for the sake of £60.
Ms Cremades paid over £2,500 in agent’s fees, a deposit and two months’ rent, but spent only seven nights in total at the house, staying with friends the rest of the time.
The letting agent told Ms Cremades that they do not usually give such a large amount of money back.
For complaints that do not involve deposits, such as onerous living conditions, tenants can go to a redress scheme for help. However at the time of her tenancy, London Corporate Apartments was not signed up to such a scheme.
The letting agent finally joined the Property Redress Scheme (PRS) on 18 July, but its membership was terminated on 27 July – two days before Ms Cremades met them.
London Corporate Apartments told her they were signed up to the PRS at their meeting on 31 July, however it was not re-instated as a member until 2 August.
Desperate to end her “nightmare”, Ms Cremades then signed an agreement not to pursue the letting agent any further.
But when the Citizen later presented the agreement to a lawyer to examine, the lawyer described it as “a questionable document”.
Earlier this year (13 March) a judge dismissed London Corporate Apartments’ appeal against the £5,000 imposed on them by Tower Hamlets Council for failing to list their fees, as required under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The judge also awarded costs of £2,700.00 against London Corporate Apartments Ltd to pay for Tower Hamlets Council’s defence of the case.
Tower Hamlets Council issued a penalty of £5,000 against London Corporate Apartments Ltd later the same month (28 March) for failure to belong to a property redress scheme as required under the Redress Schemes for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014.
London Corporate Apartments Ltd has appealed. A date for the hearing has not yet been set.
The Hackney Citizen requested comment from London Corporate Apartments on a number of matters.
However, the company had not responded by time of publication.