MY ex landlord has refused to refund my deposit on the grounds that there was a smell of dog urine in the back garden my lease covered. I left new blinds and carpets as I thought we would be there a long time. We stayed over six years and had permission to keep dogs I have been trying to get deposit back for nearly two years.

NOWADAYS there are much stricter rules on deposits and what can be deducted. At worst it sounds as if there may be a small bill for cleaning the concrete or other ground adjacent to the back door but that can’t be much. If he has retained unlawfully you can sue him in the small claims court. You should also complain to the local authority housing department as he should be a registered private landlord, and the deposit placed in a statutory deposit scheme. If he is in breach of that you may be entitled to substantial compensation.

My husband is starting out in business and the bank want a guarantee from me for an overdraft he needs for setting up and obtaining stock. How can I check if this is the right thing to do?

The bank need to advise you that you are entitled (encouraged) to take independent advice from a solicitor about what the guarantee means. Bank securities like this make it very onerous on you if your husband defaults, indeed they can sue you without having to sue him first. So get a solicitor to go through the document, and negotiate with the bank to see if they will remove any parts you deem too prejudicial. You do NOT require to sign unless you are happy and fully informed about the consequences.

I had gravy spilled, by a waiter, on a new dress at a dinner dance.

I had it dry cleaned and although the stains appear to have been

removed I feel some of the life has been taken

out of the garment. Can I seek compensation or the cost of a new item?

Yes, but only if you can prove by expert evidence the dress is no longer of a satisfactory quality. I suggest you contact your local trading standards office, and/or take it to a professional tailor or fashion/textile consultant to do an expert report on it, and if it confirms what you say, confront the hotel with it.

I lent money to my sister so she could pay off mortgage arrears. I didn’t get anything signed as it did not occur to me she would not repay. She is now saying she can’t remember getting the money, or thinks she paid it back but clearly I am going to struggle to get repayment at all.

If the money was paid through a bank that is evidence of payment. If paid in cash, then are there witnesses either to it being handed over or to his acknowledging the loan later on? I am loth to tell you to forget it, though the lack of something in writing is a huge obstacle. You should at very least go to a lawyer with all the evidence you have and get him/her to write to your ungrateful sibling , threatening court action if she refuses to pay you back.