Students: Know the Law on Deposit ProtectionJune 26, 2015
When you want to rent a property from a private landlord, you must usually put down a deposit, a sum of money that is requested as security against you not meeting the obligations set out in your rental agreement. Your landlord must place your deposit in a recognised Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme within 14 days of receipt. Such a scheme ensures that you will be able to get your deposit back when you move out, as long as you have kept the property in a good state of repair and paid your rent.
Types of Tenancy Deposit Schemes
In England and Wales, your landlord can choose to pay your deposit into one of three schemes:
- Deposit Protection Service
- My Deposits
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
All three of these schemes are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This means that, regardless of the scheme your landlord chooses to use, you will be provided with compensation in the event of the scheme going bust.
TDP schemes are in operation in Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, these differ from those in England and Wales.
Your Landlord’s Obligations
Under the TDP scheme in England and Wales, your landlord must confirm the following within 28 days of receiving your deposit:
- The address of the property you have chosen to rent
- The value of your deposit
- The details of the TDP scheme he or she has chosen to use
- The details of the TDP scheme’s dispute resolution service
- His or her name and contact details
- The reasons he or she would consider keeping some or all of your deposit
- The steps you must take to get your deposit back
- The actions you must take if you cannot contact him or her at the end of your rental agreement
- The steps you must take if you dispute his or her decision to keep some or all of your deposit
If your landlord uses an agent, the agent must place your deposit in a TDP scheme within 14 days and provide you with the required information within 28 days.
Your Rights As A Tenant
If your landlord (or their agent) does not put your deposit in a TDP scheme, or fails to provide you with the aforementioned information, you can take them to court. However, before taking them to court, you must first write to them to grant them the chance to protect your deposit and/or to provide you with the required information.
When your tenancy comes to an end, your landlord (or their agent) must write to you within ten days to inform you as to whether or not they will return some or all of your deposit to you. If they choose to keep some or all of your deposit, and you disagree with their decision, you can raise a dispute. If you raise a dispute with your landlord, your money will remain protected in the TDP scheme until the dispute has been resolved.
Resolving a Dispute
In the first instance, you must try to resolve the dispute with your landlord. However, if you fail to do so, you can ask the TDP scheme holding your deposit to look into your case. If the scheme administrator is satisfied that you have tried to resolve the dispute with your landlord, it will forward your case to the dispute resolution mechanism free of charge. An independent adjudicator will then look into any evidence provided by yourself and/or your landlord to reach an agreement as to the amount of money your landlord should return to you. If you do not wish to use the dispute resolution mechanism, you may take your case to court. However, the cost of issuing court proceedings can be expensive.
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