Calling all renters with assured shorthold tenancy agreements! A question for you – is your deposit protected?
If you don’t know, you can find out here by entering just a few details – protected deposit checker. Well, what did you find? If you found that your deposit is not protected, you should get in touch with your agency or landlord ASAP. Why the rush? Because on 23d June this year the law is changing – all deposits will have to be in an official tenancy deposit scheme, regardless of when they were taken.
Until now, only deposits taken after 2007, when the first deposit protection was set up, were obliged to go into a scheme. Now, even those who started tenancies before 2007, have the right to have their money protected.
So, if you check your deposit and find it’s not in one of the recognised schemes, what should you do?
You should get in touch with your agent or landlord and ask them to put the money in a protected scheme. Once that’s been done, they then have just 30 days to get the paperwork confirming the same to you and the paperwork should detail all the following information:
- “the address of the rented property
- how much deposit you’ve paid
- how the deposit is protected
- the name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme and its dispute resolution service
- their (or the letting agency’s) name and contact details
- the name and contact details of any third party that’s paid the deposit
- why they would keep some or all of the deposit
- how to apply to get the deposit back
- what to do if you can’t get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy
- what to do if there’s a dispute over the deposit”
If they fail to do either of these things, you can take them to court where the landlord can be forced to put the money in scheme within 14 days, and he can also be made to pay up-to three times the amount of the deposit – that should make landlords ears perk-up! In fact, the actual fine amounts are unlimited at this time, but have been set at three times the deposit amount to begin with.
Even if you have received the certificates confirming that your money has been protected, unbelievably you could still be at risk because there are some landlords who use fake certificates. So, get your paperwork out, have a good look at it and check online to make sure that what you’re being told if true.
Register your complaint as soon as you can!
If you find something wrong with your certificates or if you feel money has been held back from your deposit unfairly, you should contact your provider as soon as you can. This is vital as there may be time limits on when claims can be made. You should contact the deposit scheme that holds you money and ask that the case is taken to arbitration – which means they’ll look at the facts of the case and decide if the landlord is being fair or not.
What’ll happen if the deposit money is not protected?
Potentially, you could lose it all when you come to move out. The deposit scheme doesn’t just keep your money safe, they can act as a go-between for any issues you have at the end of the tenancy. Things like the landlord wanting to keep all the money for ‘redecorating’ or ‘cleaning’. If your money has not been put in an approved scheme, you’ll probably find it difficult to get anything back if your landlord decides to keep it.
So, if you still haven’t done so, go check your tenancy document – now!
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