Tenancy deposit compliance: What happens when it all goes wrong?

- Wed 07 Apr 2021

Tenancy deposit protection has been a legal requirement since Apr 2007. You may therefore wonder why we are raising the subject again some fourteen years later? Put simply, we are frequently surprised by how many new landlords are unaware of the need to protect their tenants deposit and whom are oblivious to the seriousness of the consequences linked to this failure.

When your tenant pays a deposit there is a legal requirement to protect it in one of the three government approved schemes within 30 days of the date of payment. In addition to this, there is a requirement to provide a tenant copies of all the ‘prescribed information’.

Of those landlords that do indeed protect their tenant’s deposit, many do not fully understand the term ‘prescribed information’ and innocently assume registration of the deposit fund and the issue of a supporting certificate to the tenant is sufficient. Sadly this is not the case.

‘Prescribed information’ is in fact a series of documents required to be served upon your tenants within specific timeframes. You should have evidence of the same in order to confidently complete what is now a 20 page claim form for the Courts in the unfortunate circumstance where you require vacant possession of your property and your tenant has failed to surrender possession upon service of a notice to quit.

If a landlord fails to comply with any of these obligations they will be sanctioned or penalised heavily by the Courts under current legislation. For example:

a) A tenant would be entitled to seek a refund of the deposit and up to three times its value with the compensatory award being decided ultimately by a District Judge.

b) A landlord in breach of deposit protection legislation also forfeits the right to rely upon a notice to quit should they require vacant possession of their property.

It should be noted that tenants are able to make a claim from the 31st day after their deposit has been paid. Great news for tenants!!!

Interestingly, deposit protection compliance is such a legal minefield that a new study has revealed a quarter of letting agents are themselves anxious about making mistakes. A poll by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) found 27% of agents surveyed, feared fines and penalties for non-compliance. A worrying statistic we are sure you will agree but not without foundation given the complexities of the subject matter.

We at Bradleys are 100% confident of the legal intricacies relating to deposit protection compliance and are fully committed to the training of our staff in order to ensure we are up to date as legislation changes.

For your complete peace of mind, we suggest all landlords should give serious consideration to the benefits of having their tenancies created and managed professionally and, to choose their agent very, very carefully!

Please contact us should you require further information upon our range of landlord services. We would be delighted to help you.