Has your landlord protected your deposit? Tenancy deposit protection is a legal requirement for all assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) and periodic tenancies
Since 2007, landlord – or an agent on the landlord’s behalf – has to protect the security deposit that is handed over by a tenant at the start of a tenancy with one of the government approved schemes.
This may either involve the deposit being paid to one of the schemes (called a ‘custodial scheme’) or it may be that the landlord or agent retains the deposit in their own bank account if they are a member of an insured scheme. The deposit must be protected within 30 days of the tenancy agreement start date and the landlord has to provide the tenant with specific information.
Your landlord must confirm:
- The address of the property
- The amount of the deposit
- How the deposit is protected
- The name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection scheme and its dispute resolution service
- The landlord (or letting agency’s) name and contact details
- Reasons why the deposit might be withheld e.g. to cover damage caused
- How to apply to get the deposit back when the tenancy finishes
- What to do if the landlord is difficult to get hold of at the end of the tenancy
- Action to take if there is a dispute
Why do we have tenancy deposit schemes?
Tenancy deposit schemes protect tenants against landlords who either can’t or won’t repay the deposit. A tenant should received the deposit because as long as:
- They have complied with the terms of the tenancy agreement
- They are up to date with rent and bills
- They have not caused any damage to the property
At the end of the tenancy
At the end of the tenancy, if both parties agree about any reductions, the deposit should be repaid to the tenant this should be done within 10 days.
If there is disagreement over how much of the deposit should be retained and how much repaid then landlords and tenants should try to negotiate an agreement between them. If this isn’t possible, disputes can be referred to the scheme’s internal dispute resolution process.
When the deposit isn’t protected
The requirement to protect a deposit is non-negotiable. An agent can do it on behalf of a landlord but a landlord cannot ask a tenant to do it. Where a deposit isn’t protected a tenant may apply to court to get the deposit repaid of for a “penalty payment” from the landlord for the unprotected deposit.
Importantly, a landlord who has not protected a deposit or who has not served the prescribed information cannot serve a tenant with two months’ notice to vacate and a tenant may be able to bring a counterclaim if the landlord starts possession proceedings.
If you are a tenant and you are not sure if your deposit is protected or you haven’t received the prescribed information, contact our Housing Team today for advice. We have specialist solicitors in our Newcastle and South Shields offices.