Kerstin’s account of how, with the help of EPTAG, she got Albany Lettings to pay what they owe!
When I moved into a new flat in July 2010, I was charged a £65 “referencing fee” by Albany Lettings. However, I then found out through EPTAG that these tenancy fees are illegal, and so I started my quest to get the money back.
Conveniently EPTAG provide a handy guide on how to claim tenancy fees back. First step, ask nicely. I sent a letter to Albany Lettings by recorded delivery, explaining the legal situation, asking for a refund of the tenancy fee and informing them I would take the matter to small claims court if they did not refund the fee. I also provided them with a copy of the property application agreement. After sending the letter, I called them up but was told the manager was not in and they would call me back later, which they never did. Six weeks later there was still no reply – time to raise a small claims action.
So I lodged a small claims summons and shortly after the summons was served to Albany Lettings, I received a letter from them. I opened the letter, expecting a cheque – but it was a letter demanding proof that I had paid “an illegal premium”. This letter was the first and only response I got from , it came a whole two months after I initially contacted them and they were asking for documents I had already sent them in my first letter. It definitely gave me the impression that they were not taking me seriously.
When a small claims summons is lodged, a return date is set as well as a preliminary hearing date. If the defenders (in this case Albany Lettings) want to dispute the claim, they have to respond by the return date, then the case will call and both parties have to appear in court. If however the defenders do not respond, then the pursuer (in this case me) can minute for decree and there will be no hearing. Albany Lettings did not respond to the summons, so I could minute for decree and did not have to attend a hearing. I received the decree mid February.
Armed with the decree and supported by more than 20 other EPTAG members, I then paid a visit to Albany Letting’s office to convince them to pay what they owed – but they had shut “for lunch and training”. Obviously Albany Lettings knew that we were coming and rather than talk to us, they chose to hide.
We spent about an hour outside the office, handing out flyers and talking to passers-by, many of whom were very supportive. We also got great coverage in the Edinburgh Evening News. Our actions had obviously had an effect, because when I phoned them up they told me they would pay what they owe. A couple of days later I received the payment, five months after I first contacted Albany Lettings. Success at last!