Can I Sue My Landlord For Not Protecting My Deposit?
Paying a tenancy deposit to a landlord is a standard process. This amount is crucial for the property owners to recover any damage made to the property during the tenancy period.
As a standard procedure, every landlord must protect this amount in a tenancy deposit scheme. The landlord should preserve the tenant’s deposit within 30 days of receiving the amount. If the landlord fails to carry this process, you can surely sue them.
However, things do not always go as planned. Maybe your landlord is unaware of tenancy deposit scheme rules. Or perhaps he does not wish to protect your deposit properly.
Whatever the reasons, tenants in the UK can appeal for getting the deposit back in such a scenario. It is vital to have at least basic knowledge about tenancy deposits for this process.
Security Deposit and Tenancy Deposit Scheme
The basic renting procedure in the UK is pretty standard in all regions.
The landlord shows you the property. Next, you decide on the rent and agree on a full deposit. Subsequently, you need to fill a tenancy agreement form that majorly contains the following information.
- Contact details
- Tenure of the tenancy
- Monthly rent
- Details of the estate agent (If any)
- Deposit amount
This security deposit is generally an amount equivalent to a four or five-week period. Let us understand what tenants should ideally pay in the form of a tenancy deposit by law.
Quick Breakdown of Tenancy Deposit
Tenants under the assured shorthold tenancy can benefit from a deposit protection scheme. First, you should realise how much a landlord should charge you as per the annual rent.
- If the annual rent is less than £ 50,000: 5-week rent (maximum)
- If the annual rent is over £ 50,000: 6-week rent (maximum)
Thus, a tenancy deposit should ideally hover around these price ranges.
Tenancy Deposit Schemes
As per tenancy deposit legislation, any government-authorised scheme protects your security deposit. Generally, these schemes are of the following two types.
- Custodial schemes
- Insured schemes
The three scheme administrators functioning in the UK offer these sub-types to the landlords.
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
- Deposit Protection Service
The landlord puts the tenancy deposits in any of the above schemes.
Tenancy Deposit Compensation Claim
In an undesirable circumstance, the landlord fails to protect your deposit. So, you can apply for claim compensation.
A court hearing is the last option to file your deposit claim and sue the landlord. You can even settle the dispute through mutual discussions.
However, if you win the court hearing, you can receive compensation up to three times the original tenancy deposit. This claim compensation is applicable in the following scenarios.
- The landlord did not protect the deposit within the 30-day period
- You did not receive the tenancy deposit scheme information within 30 days
- The landlord failed to protect your tenancy deposit
Moreover, if you do not receive the deposit, the court can order the landlord to return the amount after the tenancy ends.
Points to Consider Before Claim Compensation
A tenancy deposit scheme is vital for tenants. However, it does not support all tenancy deposits claims. Landlords can win a local county court case with proper evidence.
So, if you want to sue the landlord, make sure you consider these points.
You Adhered to the Terms in Tenancy Agreement
Tenancy deposit protection is mandatory for all landlords in the UK. However, you must be an ideal tenant to claim compensation over the entire amount.
A tenancy agreement is a contract stating the terms and conditions for the entire renting period. If you fail to abide by these terms, the landlord can claim pay compensation for your deposit.
However, if you followed all the conditions as per the tenancy agreement, the landlord has no right to hold the tenancy deposit.
You Have No Unpaid Rent
If you paid all the rent for the entire tenancy agreement duration, the letting agent or landlord should return the deposit.
Generally, the deposit amount is a cushion for landlords to cover unpaid rent. Still, custodial schemes do not permit the landlord to use this amount.
Only insured schemes allow landlords to hold the deposit amount.
You Did Not Damage the Property
Deposit protection is crucial for both landlords and tenants. If tenants damage the residential property, there can be deductions in the tenancy deposit.
A landlord can produce evidence of damages to the inventory. In such cases, tenants and landlords can agree on the final compensation claim.
However, if you did not damage the property, there is no point in deposit deductions.
Can I Sue the Landlord Before the End of Tenancy?
Ideally, it is recommended to wait until your tenancy ends. The landlord cannot evict you under Section 21 in case he did not protect the deposit.
However, if you decide to sue the landlord before the end of tenancy, the following condition can arise.
- The court orders the landlord to choose a deposit protection scheme
- Next, the landlord puts the money in a deposit scheme
- The court orders the landlord to provide prescribed information
- After providing you with the prescribed information, the landlord can give you a Section 21 notice
So, you need to read the tenancy agreements thoroughly. Next, you should note down the end of the tenancy date.
Consequently, you can opt to apply for a court hearing after getting ready to leave the property.
Note: It is always wise to settle such disputes through a third-party settlement firm. Approaching the court should be the last option.
Evidence Needed To Approach Local County Court
Claim compensation can be a straightforward process if you do not have rent arrears and are ready to pay the required court fee.
However, the local county court examines the evidence to support your claim. Hence, before taking your landlord to court, ensure you have the following documents ready.
- Tenancy Agreement
- Tenancy Deposit receipt
- Letter of communication with the landlord
- Your status on a tenancy deposit scheme
- Court form
It is vital to provide warning letters to the landlord before proceeding to this step. Importantly, your rent details and bank statements can prove useful.
Note: It is beneficial to take photographs of the property inventory for evidence purposes.
Steps to Sue Your Landlord
The court’s decision is final to settle such disputes. If the court finds your evidence to be straightforward, you can claim compensation at the end.
These three steps are necessary to go to court.
- File the N208 claim form
- Pay required court fees
- Wait for the court date
During this process, your deposit will remain protected. However, if the landlord returns the amount, you can still win the case with proper evidence.
A solicitor can help you with the necessary documents as follows.
- Formal letter of complaint
- Original deposit proof
- Court order documents
- Guidance to understand current laws
You can even contact the local authority to cover legal costs. The local council can help with covering court fees.
The deposit protection legislation clearly states that landlords must put a tenant’s deposit in a suitable TDP scheme. Tha landlord or agent should obey this rule.
Non-compliance to this law can result in legal action by the tenants. It is necessary to gather all relevant evidence to support your claim form. You can even opt for a free consultation from an authorised scheme administrator.
Moreover, you can begin by contacting the landlord before reaching the court. If the landlord does not respond, the court hearing takes place after completing the three mentioned steps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common queries about tenancy deposit schemes and claim compensation.
Is it mandatory for landlords to use a deposit protection scheme?
From 6 April 2007, all UK landlords should protect tenancy deposits in a government-authorised scheme.
Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) clearly mentions three scheme operators – MyDeposits, Deposit Protection, and Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
For citizens residing in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the TDP schemes are separate.
What happens if my deposit isn’t protected?
The landlord should protect your deposit in a custodial or insured scheme within 30 days of receipt. You should get the prescribed information about the tenancy deposit protection scheme within the same time limits.
You can approach the local county court if the landlord fails to protect your deposit. If found guilty, the court will order a full deposit repayment.
In another scenario, the landlord can be ordered to pay the amount in a custodial scheme within 14 days.
Can a landlord charge tenants for professional cleaning?
A landlord cannot make tenants pay for hiring a professional cleaning service in the UK. Also, the landlord cannot charge you for standard wear and tear of the property.
Still, you need to maintain a decent level of cleanliness before leaving the property. If you do not adhere to these terms, it can be difficult to seek compensation for the total deposit amount.
For every act of professional cleaning, the landlord should provide tenants with receipt of the same. This way, both parties will have a clear idea about the final tenant’s deposit amount.