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Tenancy Deposit Schemes: a legal requirement

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After days, weeks, perhaps even months of searching, you have found your perfect flat/house/cabin in the woods and with a deposit and first month’s rent ready to hand over, now you can relax, right? Don’t rest on your laurels just yet, because although kudos to you for being so well prepared, there are just a few extra steps you need to take to ensure that your hard earned deposit is safe.

Once upon a time, a landlord could merely pocket your hard earned deposit until your tenancy ended and, if no disputes arose (we shall come to that later), your deposit would be returned. However, as experienced renters may know, some landlords can be unscrupulous characters and it can be a difficult task getting your deposit returned. Likewise, there are numerous documented cases of tenants receiving their deposit only for the landlord to discover their property has been left in a less than desirable state.

Tenancy deposit scheme

The Government has established a safe and sensible method of insuring both tenant and landlord against disputes by devising tenancy deposit schemes (tds). It is now law that from 6th April 2007, deposits from assured shorthold tenancies must be placed in one of four deposit schemes. These schemes are, Capita Tenancy Deposit Protection, MyDeposits, Deposit Protection Service and the tenancy Deposit Scheme. Monies that are placed into these schemes are returnable if all the terms of a tenancy agreement are met, if property is not damaged and if tenants are up to date with bills and rent.

Landlords have only for days from receipt of the deposit to put it into one of the schemes. If they do not, they are potentially breaking the law.

How can I be certain my landlord is using one of these schemes?

Alongside other pieces of information, your landlord is legally required to tell you which tenancy deposit scheme they are using. They must also provide contact details for this Deposit Scheme and information about their particular dispute resolution service. You can also contact each TDS and enquire directly to ensure your deposit is being held by one of them.

Tenancy protection

My landlord hasn’t protected my deposit: What can I do?

There are consequences for your landlord if they have failed to adhere to the TDS regulations and if they have not placed your deposit in any scheme you have the right to try to recover your monies. Tenants can apply to the County Court and if the court judges in your favour, the landlord will be ordered to pay back the deposit. In some cases, three times the amount of your initial deposit can also be retrieved within two weeks of an order being made. It is advisable to seek legal counsel for a through overview of all aspects of legal proceedings.

My landlord used a TDS but is now refusing to return my deposit

Tenancy Deposit Schemes are designed to protect both the tenant and the landlord in cases of dispute. If, after your tenancy has ended, you believe your landlord is holding your deposit without a valid reason, you can take advantage of the scheme’s free resolution service. If the tds find that you have met the terms of your tenancy agreement and the landlord is withholding your deposit unfairly, they will refund it. It is important to note that both the tenant and landlord must agree to use of the resolution service and that in many circumstances a time limit may be in place with regards to a tenant being able to raise an issue. Therefore, it is imperative you act quickly if you have a dispute. For further information, contact your local Citizen’s Advice Centre or use the services of a reputable solicitor.

 

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About Denise Morgan

About Denise Morgan

Denise has five years' experience writing for various web-based companies. During this time she has also contributed to magazine articles and brochures. In addition to writing, Denise is a gigging singer/songwriter and is proud to have featured on the first series of BBC One's The Voice UK, having been selected by the great Sir Tom Jones. Denise is mother to the most talented and ridiculously intelligent two year old that has ever been and ever will be (until she creates another one that is). This kind of hyperbole is restricted only to her progeny and is not a reflection of her usual writing styles... Denise and her son live in Manchester along with their five cats - yes that's right, five.

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