Millions of tenants don’t have their deposits in a protection scheme. And since there aren’t many rights for renters in the UK, it’s crucial to use free services to stop dodgy landlords withholding our deposits.
Let’s be honest – tenancy deposit protection schemes aren’t the most exciting topic in the world. In the unlikely event that a friend started banging on about it in the pub, you’d be forgiven for dozing off.
And if you’re a renter who’s in the dark about these schemes, you’re not alone. Research by the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), one of the organisations that can protect your deposit, shows that the combined value of unprotected deposits in the UK is around £1 billion.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Your deposit
So, plenty of renters aren’t aware that they’re legally entitled to have their deposit protected.
And the need for this type of protection hits home if you’ve ever tried to get a deposit back from your landlord and failed. Like a father who contacted our Which? Legal service after his son received just £89 of his £2,600 deposit.
The landlord requested for the son to move just a few days after giving his notice, as a new tenant was moving in. Yet the landlord took rent for the remainder of his notice period from his deposit. Thankfully, after taking advice from our lawyers and sending an appropriately worded letter, the landlord agreed to pay back £2,070. Phew.
Time to get protected
The Housing Act 2004 says that if you’re renting on an assured shorthold tenancy – the most common form of rental agreement – then your deposit must be placed in one of three government-approved schemes until the tenancy is over.
Each scheme works slightly differently, but the benefits are similar. All three will help resolve any disputes between landlord and tenant over how much of a deposit should be returned. So if that TV was broken when you arrived, the landlord can’t get away with taking the cost of a new telly out of your deposit.
What’s more, you get your deposit back with interest under two of the schemes – TDS and the Deposit Protection Service (DPS).
How to get your deposit protected
It’s up to the landlord or letting agent to protect the deposit in one of the three schemes – the third is mydeposits.
But if you’re not sure whether your deposit is protected or not, contact TDS, DPS and mydeposits to check. If they all say it’s not, it might help to remind your landlord that the ultimate penalty for not protecting a deposit is a fine of three times the deposit’s value! That ought to get them to leap into action.
Have you ever tried to get a rental deposit back and come up against a brick wall? Did you know that they could and should be protected?