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Why you need to ensure your deposit’s protected

Posted on 2016-03-30

Recent research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has revealed that one in seven landlords are not complying with deposit protection rules. This is leaving many tenants vulnerable to unfair losses when they leave their rental properties.

Overall, the survey conducted by the CEBR revealed that 284,000 of Britain’s 1.9m landlords are not complying with deposit protection rules and, as a result, £514m of deposits are unprotected. But, as a tenant, how can you ensure that your landlord is protecting the deposit you give them?

What is the legislation

Your landlord must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme if you have an assured shorthold tenancy and your landlord must place your money in the scheme within 30 days of receiving it. There are three of these schemes in England and they are:

- Deposit Protection Service – 0330 303 0030
- MyDeposits – 0844 980 0290
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme – 0845 226 783

There are separate tenancy deposit schemes in Scotland and Wales.

The only exception to this is if your landlord accepts a valuable item as a deposit (such as a watch). This then would not be protected by a scheme. However, it’s rare and not particularly advisable

At the end of your tenancy, if you keep it clean, well maintained and pay your rent on time, your landlord has 10 days to return your posit (after you’ve come to an agreement on exactly how much you should get back). If you’re in dispute with your landlord about this, your deposit will remain protected in the scheme until the issue is resolved

What should my landlord tell me about my deposit?

Once your landlord has received your deposit from you, they have 30 days to provide you with the following information:

- The address of the rental property the deposit relates to
- The value of the deposit you’ve paid
- How the deposit is protected
- The name and location of the deposit protection service used and how to contact their dispute resolution service
- Their name and contact details (or those of a letting agent you’re renting the property through)
- How you can apply to get the deposit returned
- Action you can take if you cannot get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy
- What you can do if there’s a dispute between you and the landlord over the deposit.

What if my landlord hasn’t protected my deposit?

If your landlord hasn’t protected your deposit, then you can apply to your local county court, but it’s wise to seek legal advice first.

If the court then finds that your landlord hasn’t held your deposit in an appropriate scheme then it can order the person holding it to either repay it to you or pay it into a tenancy deposit scheme within 14 days to ensure you’re protected.

In addition, they may also order the landlord to pay you up to three times the deposit within 14 days of making the order. They can also decide that you may not have to leave the property at the end of the tenancy if they haven’t used a protection scheme when they should have

What if I want to dispute my landlord withholding my deposit?

If you want to dispute your landlord withholding your deposit then your tenancy deposit protection scheme will offer a free dispute resolution service.

You don’t have to use this service but, if you choose to, both you and your landlord will have to agree to it. You’ll both be asked to provide relevant information as part of the service and the decision made will be final.

To conclude, one is seven landlords currently aren’t protecting their tenant’s deposits. As a tenant, you must make sure that they are as it ensures you’re properly protected when you leave your rental property. If you don’t think your deposit’s registered, you should contact your landlord in the first instance, and you can also check with the schemes directly via their websites here:

- Deposit Protection Service
- MyDeposits
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme

If you require any further advice, then you can speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau

Image courtesy of iStock

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