There is a very interesting post over on the Estate Agent Today news web-site.
It seems that back in November 2009 they asked a number of questions of the Communities and Local Government (CLG) department (whose remit covers the tenancy deposit scheme) about the workings of the scheme. After two reminders and three months later, the CLG have finally provided answers.
Basically their comments were as follows:
- They are satisfied with the “consistently high” performance of all of the three tenancy deposit companies
- They think the schemes are working well and have had a positive impact
- They consider that the level of fees charged to landlords and agents is a commercial decision for the tenancy deposit company concerned and is not something they would seek to influence
- They “closely monitor” all three companies, and have found that “performance has been consistently high, with targets regularly being exceeded.”
- They are “satisfied with the independence of the dispute resolution services operated by the schemes”
- The existing contracts are due to run until March 2012. They don’t yet have a timetable for any re-tendering process.
When asked about the problems experienced by landlords whose agents had misappropriated tenants deposits, their response was (more or less) that it is really up to the landlord to carry out proper checks before using an agent. They went on to say however that it was wrong that agents should be able to set up without any qualifications or expertise, and that they had consulted on this and would be replying to the consultation in due course. Presumably (and hopefully) this means that regulation for letting agents is on its way.
I suspect that many landlords will have a few things to say about the CLG’s bland assumption that everything in the tenancy deposit scheme garden is rosy. Specific things that people have complained to me about include evidence for arbitrations not being put before the arbitrator, parties not being properly kept informed of the need to submit evidence, and the DPS refusal (for technical reasons) to refund the deposit money to a tenant after a court order has been obtained.
Last year I suggested to one of my Landlord Law members that she write to the CLG about her complaints, and you can read about this and the answer received from the CLG here.
If you are seriously aggrieved about the way you have been treated by one of the tenancy deposit companies, I would suggest you do as follows:
1. Write to the company concerned. They may be able to sort it out for you. Not always, but I have certainly known this happen. In fact from talking to the people behind the schemes, they do genuinely want to do a good job and if anything goes wrong which it is in their power to correct, they will want to correct it.
2. If the matter cannot be sorted and it is clear that there is no redress for this particular situation (this is often the case with problems concerning arbitrations), write to the CLG and let them know about it. If lots of people write to them about specific aspects of the schemes which are causing problems, it will be difficult for the CLG to claim that they know nothing about them.
3. Write to me or one of the other bloggers who blog about this area of law. We can give the problem a bit of publicity, particularly if it is a miscarriage of justice. (Note however that I do not promise to publish *everything* I receive!). See my contact page for how to get in touch with me.
You can write to the CLT as follows:
The Department for Communities and Local Government
Zone 1/C4 Eland House
London SW1E 5DU
So that the letter goes to the correct person, I would suggest you have the words ‘Tenancy Deposit Schemes’ in your heading.
Mind you, having said that, there are thousands and thousands of tenancy deposits being protected, and I suspect that the vast majority of these are dealt with properly with no problems. So in the larger picture of things, the CLG are probably right when they say that the schemes are operating well. In which case the three companies concerned are to be congratulated.