How safe is your tenancy deposit?
Basically if it is protected in a scheme it is safe, if it is not protected, it may not be.
From 7 April 2007 all tenancy deposits for assured shorthold tenancies have to be protected in a government authorised tenancy deposit scheme. There are three tenancy deposit schemes:
- The Deposit Protection Service
- My Deposits and
- The Dispute service / TDS
When you pay a deposit to a landlord or his agent, they are supposed to arrange for this to be protected within 14 days and give you a form with information about the scheme they have used.
What if you have not had the notice?
This will normally indicate that your deposit has not been protected. But you can check by contacting the three schemes and asking them. Their contact details are as follows:
- The Deposit Protection Service : website: www.depositprotection.com, tel: 0844 4727 000
- My Deposits : website: www.mydeposits.co.uk, rel: 0844 980 0290
- The Dispute Service / TDS : website: www.thedisputeservice.co.uk, tel: 0845 226 7837
If your landlord has not protected your deposit, what should you do then?
Well the best thing to do is to write to him.
Tell him that your deposit should be placed in a deposit protection scheme and ask him for confirmation that this has been done. You could also say that if he does not, there is a penalty of three times the deposit sum for non compliance.
There is no need to mention the fact that after the Tiensia case, the landlord will be able to protect the deposit late without penalty! In any case it is believed that this case is going to be appealed to the Supreme Court so this may change.
Hopefully your landlord will then arrange for your deposit to be protected so there won’t be any need for you to withhold the last months rent in lieu of being returned the deposit, as was often done by tenants in the days before the tenancy deposit scheme came in force (although you are not supposed to do this).
What if you find out that your deposit has not been protected after you have moved out?
You are probably in a stronger position vis a vis the penalty as it is understood that the rule in the Tiensia case does not apply if the deposit is unprotected when the tenant moves out.
Indeed we have a no win no fee service which relies on this, where a claim will be brought both for your deposit and for the award of three times the deposit sum.
If you have any questions about tenancy deposits, note that I will be interviewing Kevin Firth, the director of the Deposit Protection Service next week, for my first podcast, and will be putting to him questions received from readers to answer.
You can read a bit more about this and find a form for the questions >> here.
You can also find out more about tenancy deposits on my Landlord Law site.