If you have signed, or are considering signing, a new tenancy agreement make sure that you know how your deposit will be protected. A deposit acts as security for the landlord in the event that you damage the property or contents, or if you breach your tenancy obligation in respect of your rent. Your landlord or letting agent will make it clear that the deposit (usually at least one month’s rent) must be paid in full prior to moving into the property. However, many tenants are not aware that the landlord also has an obligation in respect of this money.
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy which started after 6 April 2007, your landlord or letting agent must ensure that your deposit is placed in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. They have a legal duty to ensure that your deposit is placed in one of these protected schemes within 30 days of having received it from you. They also have a duty to write to you within that time period to inform you about how and where your deposit is protected.
If at the end of your tenancy there is a dispute between you and your landlord as to how much of the deposit should be returned to you, the deposit will remain in the protected scheme until agreement is reached. You can make representations to the deposit scheme setting out why you disagree with the proposed deductions and the scheme will seek to mediate between you and the landlord to try to reach an agreement. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached you will need to seek advice regarding bringing a claim in the small claims court for the money owed to you.
Whilst all landlords and letting agencies should be aware of their obligation to protect the deposit and to provide you with the prescribed information regarding this, some landlords do not protect the deposit as they should. In the event that your deposit has not been protected within the 30 day time limit you may be able to bring a claim against your landlord in respect of compensation for your original deposit and an additional award of up to three times the value of the deposit. In deciding the amount of compensation the court will consider the amount of the unprotected deposit, whether it was protected at all during the life of the tenancy and the behaviour of the landlord.
Here at David Gray Solicitors, we advise about all aspects of landlord and tenant disputes, including deposit protection scheme issues. We provide advice under the Legal Aid scheme wherever possible, and offer fixed fee advice to those who do not qualify for Legal Aid.
For more information contact Hayley Baker or Chat Live on our website.