Changes they are acoming.
Talking to Kevin Firth of the DPS at the recent Landlord & Letting Show, he mentioned that the amendments in the Localism Bill are now more or less set in stone and are just waiting for the Royal Assent.
So it is about time I told you what they were:
30 days for tenancy deposit protection and service of the prescribed information notice
There has been criticism of the current 14 day period, as it is not really long enough for some situations, for example where the deposit money is being passed from a letting agent to the landlord to protect.
However 30 days should be ample.
The wording regarding initial requirements in the current legislation have caused all sorts of problems, witness the Tiensia case et al.
New wording will be put in place to hopefully prevent these arguments in future.
After the tenancy has ended
The new rules will make it clear that the landlord will not have the option of retrospectively protecting the deposit. If the tenant goes to court, the only option will be to order the return of the deposit to the tenant.
Although I understand that the DPS will still accept and protect the actual money – however this will not be sufficient to defeat a claim, as it does now.
The penalty for non protection of a tenancy deposit
At present the Judges have no discretion to do anything other than award a penalty of three times the deposit sum. This has incurred the hostility of the Judiciary as there are many occasions where the penalty is perceived as being too harsh and unjust.
Under the new rules Judges will have the discretion to award not less than the amount of the deposit and not more than three times that amount.
Section 21 notices
The rules will be amended to make it clear that a section 21 notice cannot be served if the deposit has not been protected or the prescribed information notice served.
However this rule may be mitigated if the deposit has been returned to the tenant (in full or with agreed deductions), and if an application to the court has been made under s214 which has been resolved.
So there you are – thats whats likely to happen, possibly after April 12 2012. If you want to see the bills itself its >> here, s171.
Advice to landlords:
ALWAYS protect the deposit as soon as you can. AND serve the prescribed information.
- For Landlord Law members, my form for the prescribed information notice is >> here
- The DPS template is >> here
Probably the thing which annoyed the Judges most about the current legislation is that it gives them no discretion. However the new rules do.
So, as the tenancy deposit rules are there to protect tenants money they will probably come down hard on landlords who they think are blatantly failing to protect.