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The Chief Executive of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme,(TDS) Steve Harriott, has blasted the coalition government over continued disinterest in the UK private rental sector, (PRS) in terms of regulatory measures, and urged all landlords to form their own self-regulatory organisation.

The TDS Chief Executives comments emerged following the sudden closure of another letting agent who closed their doors without notifying the landlords or tenants on their books.

Many hundreds of tenants were left wondering if their tenancy deposits were secure in one of the 3 official Government schemes (TDS, TPS or MyDeposits) or if the agent has closed taking their deposits with them, leaving tenants with no way of reclaiming their deposit monies.

Mr Harriott said he was “Sick of crooked and inept letting agents getting nothing but a slap on the wrist and a fine that can, in most cases, be easily paid for potentially putting tenant lives at risk. There needs to be proper regulation of the private rental sector, and if the government aren’t intending to impose regulatory measures then members of the PRS must band together and organise their own”.

The comments from the TDS Chief Executive come at a time when the latest English Housing Survey (EHS) released data from questioning private sector tenants about deposit protection.

Despite deposit protection being a legal requirement for the last five years,

  • 47% of private tenants said their deposit had been protected
  • 24% said their deposit had not been protected
  • 28% did not know.

70% of private tenants whose deposits were protected had the money returned in full at the end of their tenancy but only 17% of private tenants received only part of their deposit back due to damage or poor maintenance and a further 12% received none of their money back for a number of reasons.

While more than half of tenants were given particular reasons for retention of some or all of the deposit, 40% were not told why their deposits were withheld at all.

30 Day Tenant Deposit Registration Deadline

New Rules Mean All UK Tenant Deposits Must be Registered Within 30 Days Of Reciept

New Deposit Protection rules are now in force and the deadline for landlords and letting agents for the registration of a tenant’s

deposit, for every single tenancy, must be completed within 30 days of 6th April 2012, therefore, the deadline will be the 5th May 2012

This Affects All PRS Landlords If They Have Never Previously Taken Action To Protect Tenant’s Deposits

Following the introduction of the Localism Bill on the 6th April 2012, the over-complicated Deposit Protection rules have changed.

These changes will impact heavily on all UK landlords, property management and letting agents, however, many landlords are still unaware that rule changes regarding mandatory tenant deposit protection have occurred.

The new rule changes could result in landlords being left with sitting tenants in their rental properties, that they are unable to gain possession from or they could face being liable to pay THREE times the amount of the original deposit back to the tenant, regardless of any damage to the landlords rental property!

Legal 4 Landlords are aware that the new rules regarding mandatory deposit protection could prove to be a big surprise for unaware landlords and have listed the main changes that came into effect on 6th April 2012 below:-

  1. 1. Deadline for Registration

Under the current rules landlords/agents must register a deposit within 14 days from the commencement date of the tenancy.

THE NEW LAW The Localism Bill has proposed that this time limit be amended to 30 days giving the landlord or property managing agents more time to fulfil the registration requirements.

However, it means that Landlords can’t claim an administrative oversight for any delay in registering the deposit for protection.

Prescribed Information

THE NEW LAW Landlords or their appointed property managing agents must complete and supply to the tenant(s) a Prescribed Information Form within 30 days of receipt of the deposit.

This may require tenant signature and asks for contact information and details of the Landlord and the amount of deposit paid.

  1. 2. Late Registration

If a Landlord or their managing agent does not register the deposit within the prescribed 30 day deadline, then the loophole supplied in Universal Estates v Tiensia will no longer be available. The Landlord/Agent will not therefore be able to register the deposit after the 30 day deadline.

THE NEW LAWThis change has serious implications for landlords and property managing agents:-

a) The tenant will be able to bring a claim against the Landlord and /or their managing agent for failure to register the deposit and under the new rules the court may fine a landlord/agent up to three times the amount of the deposit.

b) Without the deposit being registered a valid Section 21 notice for possession cannot be issued on a tenant and a landlord cannot therefore take back possession of their property.
This basically leaves a Landlord with a sitting tenant and with very limited circumstances in which they can get them out.

The rule changes therefore affect any new tenancy in the UK private rented sector and also any current tenancy where the deposit has not previously been registered (such as tenancies which started before the introduction of the 3 Government backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes) and will mean that the deposit will need to be registered for every single tenancy within 30 days of 6th April 2012

There are still some landlords who have forgotten to register the tenant’s deposit or thought they could register the deposit only if requested to do so by the tenant.

These landlords will be massively affected by the change in law and could end up severely financially penalised. Ignorance is no defence.

Failure To Act Will Cost Landlords Money And Cause Problems Getting Tenants Out!

#deposit protection

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