Deposits

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What is a Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) scheme?
If you have an assured shorthold tenancy (the most common form of tenancy) and moved in on or after 6th April 2007, your landlord must protect your deposit by handing it over to a Tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme. This is a legal requirement. TDP schemes guarantee that tenants will get their deposits back at the end of the tenancy, if they meet the terms of the tenancy agreement and do not damage the property.

What does my landlord have to do with my deposit?
If you are an Assured Shorthold Tenant and you moved into your property after April 2007 then your landlord must do 2 things.

Within 30 days of receiving your deposit they must register it with one of 3 deposit protection schemes
Within 30 days they must also provide you with written notification of which scheme they have paid it into. This notification must contain specific information – seek further advice on this.

One of the schemes is what is termed a ‘Custodial’ scheme where the landlord must pay over the money received to the scheme. The other two schemes are insurance based schemes, where the landlord still keeps the cash but has to pay a registration fee to the scheme provider.

Is my deposit protected?
There three TDP schemes that your deposit may be in:

My Deposits 0844 4727 000
The Deposit Protection Service 0845 226 7837
Protecting Tenancy Deposits 0844 980 0290

Click on these links or call these numbers to find out if your deposit is protected by any of these schemes.

What Happens when I leave the property?

If your landlord has used a custodial scheme and the full deposit is due to be returned, the scheme will return the sum to you within 10 days
If the landlord registered the deposit with one of the insurance based schemes then the landlord will simply give you back the deposit, although they are allowed to keep it for 10 days.

What happens if there is a disputed amount for the deposit?
Each protection scheme has a free service which will gather the information and make a decision on how much is owed.

If the scheme used is an insurance based scheme the whole deposit must be handed over to the scheme by the landlord for them to decide.
If the landlord fails to hand over the money at this stage then the scheme will give the deposit to the tenant and takes the landlord to court to recover the money.

The Deposit Protection Scheme is the custodial scheme so they will already have the deposit money.

If my landlord has not protected my deposit or given me proper written notice what happens?

If they fail to do either of these things then you would be entitled to take them to the local county court.
If you take the landlord to court for this breach then the courts should make the landlord pay you back the original deposit plus an amount of up to 3 times the deposit itself.

If the landlord protects the deposit after the 30 days would I still have a claim?

Yes you would..

What if this upsets the landlord and they decide to go for a possession order?

If the landlord has not complied with the rules on deposit protection then they cannot use the special procedure, commonly known as the ‘Section 21 notice’ which allows them to get possession because your fixed term has come to an end.
Instead they would have to use the more complex procedure and if you do not have rent arrears for instance they are unlikely to get a possession order.

What if my landlord doesn’t return my deposit?
If your landlord fails to pay back your deposit or give you written notice, you would be entitled to take them to the local county court. If you take the landlord to court for this breach then the courts should make the landlord pay you back the original deposit plus an amount of up to 3 times the deposit itself.

Click here to download a template letter to your landlord telling them your intention to take them to court for not paying back your deposit (often landlords would rather pay back a deposit than be taken to court.)
Click here to download the factsheet on making a claim to court on the return of your deposit
You would need to contact the scheme (their details are above) and get them to provide a letter or an email response confirming that they have not got the money
You need to get a court form known as an ‘N208’. Click here to download a copy.
You fill in the form and photocopy the written confirmation from the schemes
You need to write a witness statement briefly setting out the facts of your case
You take them to the court and pay the registration fee
The courts will then contact the landlord giving a date for the hearing
You would not need a solicitor for this

Before you make your claim, you should try to gather as much information as you can including;

your tenancy agreement
evidence you paid your rent in full
evidence showing you paid a tenancy deposit
confirmation the deposit was against damage and loss (rather than rent in advance)
copies of any letters to and from your landlord
evidence that the deposit was not protected in a scheme
your inventory and photos of the property at the end of the tenancy

If I have already moved out, is there any time limit on taking my ex landlord to court?

You have 6 years to do this

What legislation covers these applications?

Your deposit belongs to you and is only ever in the landlord’s keeping. The law relating to the protection of deposits and the tenants right to recover are vested in section 213 and 214 of the Housing act 2004.

I’ve been asked to pay a holding deposit, what do I do?
A holding deposit is a payment paid before your tenancy starts to secure the property for you. If your landlord or letting agent asks you to pay a holding deposit you should always get written confirmation. The written confirmation should say the amount you have paid, what you’ve paid this for and include details of the landlord or letting agent you’ve paid it to.

Top tips for keeping your deposit safe
MOVING IN

Take photos and notes of any damage/disrepair: If there is any damage or disrepair in your property when you move in, take photos of it. Record the date these photos or notes were taken. This will help you if your landlord tries to take money from your deposit for damage that was already there before you moved in.
Agree an inventory with your landlord: An inventory is a list of furniture and other items in the property when you move in. Agree a list of items in the flat with your landlord and keep a signed and dated copy of this. If anything in the property is broken, make a note of this.

Check your tenancy agreement: Does it contain anything else about the state of the property when you move out? It may say curtains and carpets have to be cleaned. If you sign this, you agree to cleaning these before you move out.

MOVING OUT
Get your landlord or agent to do an inventory when you move out so any problems with the property can be discussed and agreed then.

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