Tenancy disputes are common in the UK often because there are thousands of rogue landlords who refuse to abide by their responsibilities. Even if they are required by law, they often take some of these obligations for granted, particularly when it comes to tenancy deposits.
If you are a private rental tenant in an assured shorthold tenancy, you are required by law to pay a deposit to your landlord before you start your tenancy. This money is a guarantee that you are going to abide by the terms of the tenancy agreement. If you break any of the tenancy rules, your landlord can use the deposit to pay the repair costs of whatever damages or issues you caused the property at the end of your tenancy.
Landlords also have a responsibility to protect your deposit by entering it into one of the government-authorised tenancy deposit protection schemes: mydeposits, Deposit Protection Service, and Tenancy Deposit Scheme. They need to protect your deposit within 30 days from the time that you handed over the money to them. This not happening is not an uncommon scenario as the total value of unprotected tenancy deposits is now estimated at £515 million. Some landlords continue to ignore this law despite the fact that they can pay a fine of up to three times the original deposit amount.
Your landlord can be penalised if you can prove that they have not protected your deposit and the time allotted to them has expired.
Before the Localism Act 2011, the tenancy deposit law did not have any indications on how tenants should be compensated when their landlords did not protect their deposit. As there were no penalties imposed on them, landlords did not care to protect deposits and only did so in two situations:
- When they wanted to serve their tenants an eviction notice (as a section 21 only becomes valid when the deposit is protected)
- When their tenants file a claim and goes to court for non-protection of deposit (they hurriedly register the deposit to avoid being taken to the courts)
When the Localism Act 2011 was implemented, the within 30 days limit was added and any landlord that went over the time limit will now be penalised.
How to find out if your deposit was protected or not
If your landlord follows landlord and tenancy laws, the deposit protection scheme where they registered your deposit should provide you with a copy of a deposit certificate.
This document contains all the important information you need to know about your deposit and how it is protected. This is known as prescribed information and it has details such as the date when the deposit was entered into protection and the date when you paid the deposit to your landlord. If the certificate shows that over 30 days sets apart the two dates, then you can file a tenancy protection compensation claim against your landlord.
Once you have informed your landlord that you are filing a tenancy deposit compensation claim against them, there are three possible scenarios you can expect to happen:
- In cases where your landlord was about to serve a section 21 when you filed the claim, a deposit protection scheme provider may contact you to inform you to confirm that your landlord has just protected your money. Your landlord may have realised that they need to follow the law first before they can force you to move out of the property.
- Before you can bring your case to the courts, some landlords hire an agent or agency to handle property management, including pending legal matters and errors. Landlords who do this do not want any legal action served against them, so they immediately correct their mistake and protect your deposit.
- Some landlords simply realise that going against the law will do them no good, and they may have a difficult time establishing defence if a court case ensues. As for landlords who are that knowledgeable or do know about tenancy deposit protection schemes, they will want to register your deposit right away to stay on the good side of the law.
While many say that it is a challenging process, bringing your case to the courts is probably the best way for you to get the compensation you deserve.
Take your landlord to court
As stated above, taking your landlord to court can be difficult, but you can do everything yourself by following the claims process. The first step is to gather all the evidence you have against your landlord and write and send a letter to your landlord telling them that you’re filing claims against them for being non-compliant. If your landlord still continues to do nothing, it is time for you to go to the courts.
However, you can also hire a team of experts who are experienced in tenancy deposits. This team of solicitors will guide you through the time-consuming and often confusing process, from the preparation and submission of evidence to winning and claiming the deposit protection compensation claim.
You should choose the team of solicitors at Tenancy Deposit Claims if you want a guarantee of efficient, personalised, and dedicated guidance and assistance in filing your claim. Best of all, they are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, so you know you’re getting world-class service.