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Is Your Deposit Protected?

Date Added 20/07/2016

Deposit protection has been a legal requirement for landlords for all ‘assured shorthold tenancy` agreements since 2007, but research by the housing charity Shelter has revealed that one in five tenants don`t actually know if their deposit is protected by law. The research was restricted to English private renters only, but it`s fair to say that the pattern is likely to be repeated throughout the rest of the UK.



Assured Shorthold Tenancies

An ‘assured shorthold tenancy` is the most common type of tenancy agreement between landlord and tenant. This kind of agreement will likely be in place if the property owner is a private landlord or housing association, the tenancy started after 14th January in 1989 and the property is the tenant`s main accommodation (with the landlord not living in the property).

The reasons why a tenancy agreement would not be an ‘assured shorthold tenancy` are that the agreement began before 15th January in 1989, or it`s a business tenancy or tenancy of licensed premises or a holiday let. The tenancy also will not be an ‘assured shorthold` if the landlord is a local council, or if the rent amount is either more than £100,000 a year or less than £250 a year. In London only, the minimum rent for an ‘assured shorthold tenancy` is set higher at £1,000 a year.



How to Check Your Deposit is Protected

When you sign a tenancy agreement and pay the deposit to the landlord, they are legally required to pay that deposit into a scheme which protects it, and they are typically allowed thirty days after receiving the deposit to do so.

Once the deposit is paid into the scheme by the landlord, the protection means you are guaranteed to receive the full deposit back, assuming you have met all the terms of the tenancy agreement you signed. There will also be a dispute resolution service which will determine how much of the deposit should be withheld or paid back in the case of the landlord believing that the tenant has not met the tenancy agreement criteria.

It`s a good idea to check exactly which deposit protection scheme the landlord is using before signing the tenancy agreement and certainly before actually paying the deposit. If you are renting in England or Wales, then the landlord has three options in the form of the Deposit Protection Service, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme or My Deposits. There are variations in Scotland and Northern Ireland but you can easily check up on them via the Scottish Government and NI Direct websites.

In the event that a landlord does not pay your deposit into one of these schemes, you can take them to the small claims court to retrieve your deposit as well as potentially also causing the landlord to pay your court fees and a penalty of up to three times the amount of the original deposit.
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