What is The Deposit Scheme & Why do You Need it?
Since the 6th April 2007, any deposit taken for a new (or renewed) assured shorthold tenancy agreement is required to be protected by the landlord, using one of the three government backed schemes, being:
1. Deposit Protection Service (more commonly known as the DPS)
2. My Deposits
3. Tenancy Deposit Scheme (more commonly known as the TDS).
The deposit must be protected even if paid by a third party (e.g. rent deposit scheme or parents).
The deposit scheme was put in place to ensure that the landlord could not withhold the deposit, providing the tenant:
1. Met the terms & conditions of the tenancy agreement,
2. Didn't damage the property (including leaving the property in an unclean condition),
3. Paid all rent and bills due against the property for the time period covered by the tenancy agreement.
This protects the tenant from unfair charges, and protects the landlord against threatening tenants as there is now a strict procedure for what is deemed fair and what is not.
The landlord is required to protect the deposit within 30 days of receiving it and must then provide the tenant with prescribed information detailing the information regarding the deposit.
This information should be:
The rented property address
Amount of deposit paid
Which scheme is being used and their contact details
Name and contact details for the landlord (or their Letting Agent)
Name and contact details of any third party who has contributed towards the deposit
Why the deposit would not be returned
How to apply to get the deposit back
What to do if you cannot contact the landlord at the end of the tenancy
What to do in the event of a dispute
At the end of the tenancy the landlord must return the deposit within 10 days of agreeing how much is to be returned. If there is a dispute between the landlord and the tenant, the deposit will continue to be protected by the scheme until an agreement has been made. If an agreement cannot be made between the landlord and the tenant then the dispute will either be settled by the deposit scheme dispute panel/arbitrator, or taken to court to settle (further details on this will be explained in the prescribed information and also detailed briefly below).
To prevent any confusion, a "holding deposit" or "holding fee" to take the property off the market whilst undergoing credit checks does not constitute a deposit that needs to be protected. Protection is only required once a tenancy agreement has become binding and the person(s) become(s) a tenant.
If, as a tenant, you believe your deposit has not been protected, you should first contact the three schemes and check with them. Their contact details are:
DPS - 0330 303 0030 or use their online deposit checker tool.
MyDeposits - 0333 321 9401 or use their online deposit checker tool.
TDS - 0300 037 1001 or use their online deposit checker tool.
If you are unable to confirm with any of these companies who is protecting your deposit then you can apply to your local county court to have your deposit repaid. You should seek legal advice before making your application. If it is found that the landlord has not protected your deposit then the court can order the landlord to either:
1. Repay the deposit to you, or
2. Pay the deposit in to a custodial scheme's bank account within 14 days.
The court may also order the landlord to pay you up to three times the value of the deposit within 14 days of making the order as a penalty for not protecting your deposit.
The court, at the end of the tenancy, could decide that you will not have to leave the property when the tenancy ends if your landlord has not used one of the backed schemes when they should have.
If there is a dispute over the amount to be returned then each deposit scheme offers a free dispute resolution service. You do not have to use this service, but if you do, both parties will be required to submit evidence and the decision made by the resolution service will be final.
If you are unable to contact the landlord in order to request your deposit back then you can raise a dispute with the deposit scheme (further details on this can be found on their respective websites) and if the scheme agrees, they will issue you with your deposit. Please note that there may be a limit on the amount of time you have to raise a dispute and you should check this with the deposit scheme as soon as possible.
If you need any further advice then you should contact your local Citizens Advice office, a solicitor or advice agency or you can contact Shelter in Wales.
PB Property use MyDeposits Custodial Scheme where we protect the deposit on behalf of the landlord. This would be the case where PB Property manages the tenancy on behalf of the landlord or where a “Let Only” landlord instructs us to protect the deposit for them. Unless PB Property receives instruction from a “Let Only” landlord, we pass the deposit to that landlord as they are responsible for protecting the deposit and providing the prescribed information mentioned above.