Almost one in three tenants are completely unaware of their right to have their tenancy deposit protected so that their cash is kept safe until they decide to move on, a housing charity announced last week.
With the average deposit a tenant has to hand over costing around £992, the housing charity Shelter is urging people who rent to double check that their new landlord has met requirements to place their deposit in a Government backed scheme within 30 days of receiving it. 30% of 4,000 private tenants surveyed in England were in the dark about their landlords’ obligations to protect their deposits.
As well as protecting the deposit from being unfairly withheld, tenancy deposit protection schemes act as independent mediators, helping both landlords and tenants. If tenants believe unfair deductions have been made when a tenancy ends and also if the tenant has broken any rules within the tenancy agreement then these can be looked at independently.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “We campaigned for this change in the law to stop renters from losing money in unfair deposit deductions, so it’s extremely worrying that so many are still unaware of their tenancy deposit rights.
“Most landlords do the right thing but unfortunately some are still unaware of their responsibilities to protect the deposits that are given to them in good faith.” He also stated: “At Shelter we hear from thousands of renters who have huge chunks deducted from their deposit for no good reason, or who have to wait months to get their money back.”
Landlords who have failed to place their tenants’ deposit in an authorized scheme within 30 days of receiving it can be taken to court where they could face a penalty of one to three times the value of the deposit, which is then awarded to the tenant.
Housing minister Mark Prisk stated: “Tenancy deposit schemes offer vital protection for both tenants and landlords, giving them financial peace of mind and offering neutral help to resolve any disputes that may arise”.