Wed 16 May 2018
Lee Whitelock, Director MNAEA
What are tenancy deposit schemes?
When you receive your tenants' deposit you must place it in a tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme within 30 days. These are government-backed schemes which protect the deposit. If a tenant pays their rent and bills, does not damage the property, and meets the terms of your tenancy agreement, they should get their deposit back in full.
What schemes are available?
There are three schemes authorised by the government:
-> Deposit Protection Service - This offers a free custodial scheme for landlords, plus an insurance-backed scheme with a fee
-> MyDeposits - This offers an insurance-backed scheme, created with landlords in mind. There's a membership fee, and a fee for deposits.
-> Tenancy Deposit Scheme - This offers insurance-backed and custodial schemes. Landlords pay an annual fee per property, and letting agents pay a one-off annual fee. This service is mainly for letting agents. If you opt for a custodial scheme, you hand over the deposit to the scheme in its entirety. If you choose an insurance-backed scheme, then you keep the deposit and pay a fee for the scheme.
What happens if you don't protect the tenant deposit?
This is not something you want to do as it may lead to some unfavourable consequences. A tenant can apply to a court if you haven't placed their deposit in a TDP scheme. The court can force you to repay the tenant or pay the amount into a custodial scheme within 14 days.
It's worth noting that the court may order you to pay a tenant three times the amount of the original deposit. Plus, they may decide a tenant can remain within a property after the tenancy if you haven't placed the deposit in a scheme.
How do you deal with a dispute?
Normally, when you and a tenant agree on the deposit amount that the tenant will get back, you must pay it within ten days.
If there's a dispute, then the scheme holds onto the deposit until it's resolved. If you have an insurance-backed scheme, then you need to pay the deposit to the scheme which holds onto it until the dispute is resolved. When a dispute occurs, you need to contact your TDP scheme's resolution centre. This is a free service and provides an alternative to going through the courts. You submit your evidence, the tenant submits their evidence, and an adjudicator makes a binding decision.
There's a lot of information to keep in mind here. But in most cases, there is no dispute between landlords and tenants, and the tenancy ends without hiccup.
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