Tenant urges others to follow after deposit winon June 13, 2023 at 7:58 am

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A tribunal rules Adéla Koubová should get her deposit back because her Edinburgh flat was not a holiday let.

Adéla KoubováImage source, Adéla Koubová

A tenant who took her landlord to a tribunal to win her deposit back has urged other renters to follow her lead.

Edinburgh Holiday and Party Lets (EHPL) was ordered to refund Adéla Koubová after a housing tribunal ruled her former flat was not a holiday let.

It means the legal relationship was that of landlord and tenant – giving Adéla greater protection.

The flat is owned by Mark Fortune, a businessman who has been refused entry to Scotland’s landlord register.

Adéla, who is from the Czech Republic, said she had taken a stand “for the other people in this situation”.

A series of housing tribunal rulings have now rejected EHPL’s argument that it is operating holiday lets from Mr Fortune’s properties and as such the people leaving there should get the same protections as ordinary letting agreements.

Housing campaigners are asking why no further action is being taken against the firm.

Adéla moved to Edinburgh from the Czech Republic in January 2020 as part of a University of Edinburgh exchange programme and found the flat in the city’s Bruntsfield Place through a Gumtree advert.

But after just one day in the property, which she said was freezing because of a hole in her bedroom window, she gave four weeks’ notice to EHPL’s representative but then failed to get her deposit back.

Adéla Koubová

Image source, Adéla Koubová

“When I realised I lost my deposit I was sad, for me then it was a lot of money,” she told BBC Scotland.

“But it has been three years now, a lot of effort and stress in this process, but I am doing it for the other people in this situation.

“There are people in these properties who are moving to Edinburgh for the first time and they maybe don’t know the situation.”

Adéla, who was supported in her case by Scotland’s tenants’ union Living Rent, said she was still waiting to be paid the £275 she is due more than two months after the ruling.

mark fortune

Image source, Deadline News

She added: “I am not sure if we will see the money, the best prize was winning though and hopefully through my experience we can let other people know there is a way to not let this happen to them.”

The Housing and Property Chamber ruling states that it has “no difficulty in concluding that both parties were aware that this agreement was not for a holiday let and did not intend it constitute one”, meaning the legal relationship between the parties was that of landlord and tenant.

In 2013, Mr Fortune was refused entry to Scotland’s landlord register after being convicted of offences directly relating to his letting business, including threatening tenants.

‘Position was often contradictory’

He has previously denied that he operates as a landlord and rents out flats.

The businessman said the properties were operated by limited companies, not him personally.

The latest tribunal ruling said Mr Fortune gave submissions on behalf of EHPL – of which he is a former director – and on a number of occasions “seemed to refer to himself as the landlord accidentally”.

Bruntsfield Place

It also added that his “position was often contradictory and therefore could not be treated as reliable”.

In 2021, a BBC Scotland investigation found that rooms in flats owned by Mr Fortune were being let out under contracts which did not give tenants the same protection as residential agreements.

And last month, EHPL was ordered to make improvements to one of its flats which had been described as “not fit for human habitation”.

‘Start enforcing their own rules’

A spokesman for Living Rent said most tenants did not have “the time or resources” to take landlords to housing tribunals like they did with Adéla.

He said: “Mark Fortune has been refused landlord registration and yet his properties have continued to be rented out across the city.

“Tenants face conditions unfit for human habitation and have their deposits improperly withheld while the authorities take no action.”

The spokesman called on both City of Edinburgh Council and Police Scotland to “start enforcing their own rules” on the issue.

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