Tenant's guide to the tenancy deposit scheme
Since April 2007 your Landlord or letting agent has been obliged to protect your deposit using one of the three Government approved Tenancy deposit schemes. The reason for the changes were two fold. Firstly to ensure that if you are entitled to get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy you receive it promptly and secondly to encourage Landlords and tenants to settle their disputes through alternative dispute resolution rather than the courts.
At the start of the tenancy
You still pay your deposit to your Landlord or Letting agent at the start of the tenancy in the normal way. Within 14 days the Landlord or letting agent must provide you with certain prescribed information including:
- Which of the three authorised schemes they are using
- How to apply to get your deposit back at the end of the tenancy
- An explanation of the purpose of the deposit
- What to do if there is a dispute
What to do if your Landlord or letting agent doesn’t provide you with the prescribed information
You can apply to the county court to force your Landlord to protect your deposit. If it is shown that your deposit has not been protected the court must order the Landlord to repay you three times the deposit.
Recording the condition of your rental property
It is expected that the changes will encourage more Landlords to produce detailed inventories including photographs. The inventory acts as a record of the condition of the property at the start of the tenancy. If you are not provided with an inventory you should request one from your Landlord. If it is not forthcoming you would be wise to produce your own photographic record and send a copy to the Landlord.
At the end of the tenancy
If there is no dispute between you and your Landlord or agent the deposit will be divided as per your agreement. The new regulations state that this must be done within 10 days of the tenancy ending.
If a dispute arises
If you cannot agree with your Landlord as to how much of your deposit should be withheld then the two parties have the right to go to alternative dispute resolution. This service is provided free by the scheme protecting your deposit.
Who is running the schemes?
Three companies have been authorised by the Government to run tenancy deposit schemes:
The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) 0870 707 1 707
My Deposits 0871 703 0552
The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) 0845 226 7837
Your Landlord or Letting agent should tell you which scheme they are using.
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