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In this blog we will cover tenancy deposit schemes and deposit refund disputes. Together they should give you good idea on how deposit protection and refund works. We will finish with external links which give in depth information which is not possible to cover in this blog.

Tenancy Deposit Schemes and your deposit.

Your landlord must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if you rent your home on an assured short hold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007.

Once your deposit is received your landlord has to tell you within 30 days:

1)      How your deposit is protected.

2)      How much deposit you have paid.

3)      The name and contact details of the tenancy deposit protection (TDP) scheme and its dispute resolution service

4)      How to apply to get the deposit back

5)      What to do if there’s a dispute over the deposit

6)      What to do if you can’t get hold of the landlord at the end of the tenancy

Landlord has choice of 3 schemes to use for deposit protection:

  • Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
  • MyDeposits
  • The Dispute Service (TDS)

Capita Tenancy Deposit Service also provided a scheme for a short period, but stopped accepting new deposits in September 2013. Any deposits held by Capita have been moved to MyDeposits.

How do I check if you deposit is protected?

All the tenancy deposit protection schemes allow you to check online if your tenancy deposit is protected in their scheme. Alternatively, you can contact the schemes direct and ask.

A court can order your landlord to pay you compensation if you are an assured short hold tenant and your landlord:

1)      Fails to protect your deposit in a government-backed scheme.

2)      Doesn’t give you the required information about the scheme being used.

3)      Takes too long to protect your deposit or give you the required information.

Your landlord can be fined and it can be more difficult for them to end your tenancy.

Getting your deposit back

You can apply to your local county court if you think your landlord hasn’t used a TDP scheme when they should have.

Get legal advice before applying to court.

If the court finds your landlord hasn’t protected your deposit, it can order the person holding the deposit to either:

a)      Repay it to you

b)      Pay it into a custodial TDP scheme’s bank account within 14 days

The court may also order the landlord to pay you up to 3 times the deposit within 14 days of making the order.

Deposit refund Disputes

Your Landlord does have a right to make deductions for your deposit to cover for damage to the property, pay for unpaid rent or pay for cleaning. Your Landlord should not make deductions for normal wear and tear example a worn out carpet is wear and tear but carpet with black ink spots is a damage.

Wear and Tear takes makes an allowance for:

  1. The original age, quality and condition of any item at commencement of the tenancy
  2. The average useful lifespan to value ratio (depreciation) of the item
  3. The reasonable expected usage of such an item
  4. The number and type of occupants in the property
  5. The length of the tenant’s occupancy

The best way to avoid disputes is to agree an inventory with the landlord. Your landlord or their agents should supply you with an inventory. Ask for one if they haven’t done so.  Being vigilant during the inventory is difficult as most tenants are concentrating on the move but not taking inventory seriously can cause issues with the refund process. You must check the inventory list before signing.

You can make an inventory yourself if your landlord or agent won’t provide one. Ask an independent witness (for example, someone who doesn’t live in the property) to sign it. You should then send a copy to the landlord. It also helps if you take photos of the property (especially any existing damage) when you first move in.

Photos (especially existing damage which is not mentioned on the inventory) should be immediately sent to the Landlord by email or recorded post. Please do not forget to retain copies of emails or proof of delivery if they were sent by post. Please ensure you have correct email/postal address for the Landlord, copy the estate agent for information.

Cleaning being the most common dispute you must ask the Landlord/Agent what type of cleaning was done before you moved in and ensure the contract does not make you liable to pay for making the property cleaner than when you moved in, example when you moved into a property carpets and house were cleaned by domestic cleaner – you should ensure that your contract does not ask for professional cleaning as there can be big cost difference between the two types of cleaning.

What are the options if i cannot resolve disagreement with landlord on Deposit refund disputes?

There are options available to resolve disputes, and they are explained clearly by shelter on this page.We recommend to read this page carefully while considering your options.

External resources by topic:

Deposit protection schemes

Move in Inventory and templates of inventory lists

Wear and Tear

Deposit Refund disputes claims and templates of ‘letter before action’

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