My Landlord Didn’t Protect My Deposit Within 30 Days
You move into a new rented property. As a general practice, the landlord demands a reasonable tenancy deposit.
Next, you pay the deposit correctly and expect swift action from the landlord for tenancy deposit protection. As per government rule, the letting agent or landlord must put your deposit in an authorised scheme within 30 days.
In most cases, landlords aware of tenancy deposit scheme rules will do the needful. But, not all landlords are alike. What if your landlord fails to protect the deposit?
In such a case, you do not need to worry. You can file a tenancy deposit compensation claim by following a systematic process.
A Quick Look at the Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Before moving on to the legal procedure, a tenant should know the fundamentals of tenancy deposits. Basically, a tenancy deposit scheme aims to safeguard tenants from a landlord’s exploitation.
However, the scheme works both ways. If the tenant fails to abide by tenancy agreement rules, the landlord can get rightful compensation.
Currently, there are three UK government authorised TDS schemes.
- Deposit Protection Service
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Now, a landlord is responsible for putting your tenancy deposit in any one of the schemes mentioned above.
Note: All the above government authorised administrators offer custodial or insured schemes to landlords.
Responsibility of the Landlord
Upon receipt of the tenant’s deposit, a landlord must carry the following steps.
- Submit the deposit money in a preferred scheme
- Send prescribed information to the tenant
- Provide necessary documents of the protection scheme
According to the deposit protection legislation, this rule applies to private rented properties after 6 April 2007.
Ideally, the landlord or agent should provide all the information as per the above three steps within 30 days.
The property owner can put your tenancy deposit in an insured or custodial scheme.
What Can Tenants Do?
In simple words, a tenant can take legal action against a landlord or agent for failing to protect the tenancy deposit.
However, the landlord cannot send you an eviction notice as Section 21 during this legal action. Here’s what tenants can do legally.
Contact the Deposit Protection Scheme Directly
Since the landlord didn’t protect your tenancy deposit, you won’t find your account in any of the three legal schemes.
Still, it is better to verify by contacting the administrator offering such an authorised scheme. These administrators will provide all crucial information as per tenancy deposit legislation.
Consequently, you will know whether the landlord has delayed the process or didn’t contact the scheme at all.
So, you will know all about the deposit protection certificate and pay compensation details.
Go Through the Tenancy Agreement
It is beneficial to know all details about a deposit protection scheme. However, it is vital to go through your tenancy agreement before reaching court.
Ensure you know the following details.
- Contact details of landlord or agent
- Tenure of the agreement
- Type of tenancy
- Original deposit amount
- Paid rent
- Rent arrears (If any)
- Other terms and conditions
So, you will be aware of all the minute details of the tenancy agreement before moving further.
Contact the Landlord
First, it is always better to settle tenancy disputes mutually. So, you should contact your landlord to suggest protecting the tenants deposit.
If the landlord does not respond, it is time to write a letter with all the prescribed information. In short, this letter reminds the landlords that they failed to protect your deposit.
This letter should state the time for response and action taken to protect your entire deposit. You can even contact your solicitor for legal advice.
Approaching your local county court to sue your landlord is the final step in this process. If your landlord fails to protect your deposit correctly, the court’s decision becomes paramount.
In this case, your solicitor sends all legal documents about the proceedings like court date, requirements, information on deposit legislation, etc.
Before this step, it is vital to have all the evidence ready. The court decides on the compensation after studying the tenancy agreements, deposit scheme details and rent arrears (If any).
Final Court Verdict
You can seek compensation for the failure of the landlord to protect your amount in a tenancy deposit scheme.
Importantly, if the court agrees to your claims, either of the following can happen.
- You get the tenancy deposit amount back
- The landlord needs to protect the tenancy deposits in a scheme
- You get the required compensation
So, present landlords in the UK need to follow strict security deposit procedures before creating a new tenancy agreement.
The term ‘prescribed information’ appears consistently when talking about tenancy deposit protection for tenants.
So, it is vital to know the details of prescribed information before choosing the perfect tenancy deposit scheme.
- Amount of full deposit
- Address of the rented property
- Contact details of landlords, tenants
- Details of deposit protection scheme administrator
- Contact information of letting agent
So, a landlord or agent must provide details of this ‘prescribed information’ within 30 days of signing a new agreement with a tenant.
Legal Process for Tenants
Many landlords agree for protecting your deposit to avoid court visits. However, if you need to take legal action against a stubborn landlord, here’s the step-by-step process.
Fill the Form N208
You can download and fill in all the necessary details on claim form N208. In this form, you should mention all the details in a clear and crisp manner.
Mention that your landlord failed to protect the deposit as per the tenancy deposit scheme rules. This form should have details as follows.
- Fixed-term tenancy details (If applicable)
- Statutory periodic tenancy details (If applicable)
- Deposit amount details
- Annual rent details
- Reminders to the landlord
You should also keep the tenancy agreement, reminder letter and other documents suggested in the previous section ready.
Submit Form N208 to Local County Court
Get ready to pay the court fee and submit the form to the local county court. The fee depends on the tenant’s deposit.
The court may ask for evidence like deposit receipt, the landlord’s contact details or letting agent info, etc. Be prompt to provide these details.
Note: Basic knowledge of the Housing Act, legal costs, shorthold tenancy, late protection proves handy in such a scenario.
Non-compliance to a tenancy deposit scheme can prove detrimental for a landlord. So, as a tenant, you should be honest and clear during court hearings.
After all, the court will take appropriate decisions based on evidence. Hence, documentation proves invaluable during court hearings.
If the court agrees, you can get compensation of up to three times the amount of your paid deposit.
As per the tenancy deposit scheme, a tenant’s deposit must be protected by present landlords. However, there is a set time limit for safeguarding the deposit properly.
You can follow the deposit protection legislation rules and contact the scheme administrator if you are a tenant. After requesting and sending a formal warning letter, you can file for a court hearing.
It is vital to keep all the evidence ready. The landlord must adhere to deposit scheme rules and pay the right amount as ordered by the court. So, be prepared to answer questions in a court hearing and get back your deposit money.
Frequently Asked Questions
This section covers common questions amongst tenants and landlords about the TDP schemes.
How long do landlords take to return deposits after the tenancy ends?
After the end of the tenancy period, both tenants and landlords should mutually agree on a deposit amount.
This amount depends on paid rent, property damage (if any), and other charges. After the agreement, the landlords or letting agents need to pay back the deposit within ten days.
In case of an active dispute, the TDP scheme administrator holds the deposit amount.
Do the local council help with tenancy deposits?
Your local council can help you pay the tenancy deposits as per your eligibility. Private renting is possible through deposit guarantee schemes.
In addition, you can also receive budgeting loans that help you pay the tenancy rent in advance. In such a case, contacting your local council proves beneficial.
Is it mandatory for a landlord to take deposits?
In reality, taking a deposit from a tenant is not mandatory. If you are a landlord, you can rent a property without a formal requirement.
However, deposits are necessary to protect landlords from possible property damage. In addition, the property owner can utilise this amount in case of unpaid rents.
In such scenarios, the court compensates a landlord if the tenant fails to follow the rules of the tenancy agreement. Thus, deposits are vital for relevant legal proceedings.
What is Section 21?
Section 21 falls under the Housing Act 1988. This section allows a landlord to send a legal notice to a tenant to evict the property.
This section comes into effect after the tenancy ends. However, landlords cannot impose Section 21 within the first four months of an assured shorthold tenancy.
Also, Section 21 has a legal duration of six months. Post this tenure, without any court action; the notice becomes invalid.