Research suggests UK tenants worried about deposit protection

The majority of private sector tenants in the UK are worried that the deposits they pay for their rented home are not protected. Under the law a deposit, the money held as a fund for any damage caused during the tenancy, should be put into a deposit scheme and not held by a landlord or a lettings agency. But some 70% of tenants are concerned that their deposit has not been placed in a protection scheme and believe their landlord or letting agent has kept the deposit, according to new research. The study, conducted by online letting agent PropertyLetByUs, also shows that just 50% of tenants have ever received confirmation that their deposit is in a protection scheme and three quarters of tenants believe their landlord, or agent, will try and keep the deposit at the end of the tenancy. It is estimated that £3.2 billion deposits are being held in the deposit schemes, or by letting agents and landlords. The government intends to reform rental deposits and is looking at what it can do to make sure that people who rent have ‘proper consumer protection, including protection from landlords who withhold deposits unreasonably’. Tenant Deposit Protection was introduced in April 2007, as part of the Housing Act 2004 for all assured shorthold tenancies in England and Wales where a deposit was taken. It was identified as a way to raise standards in the lettings industry and ensure tenants are treated fairly at the end of the tenancy. ‘Tenants are right to be concerned. While deposit protection schemes protect tenants, there is little or no policing to ensure landlords and agents are compliant,’ said Jane Morris, managing director of PropertyLetByUs. ‘Our research shows that tenants simply don’t trust landlords and agents with their deposits, which is disappointing in light of the fact that the schemes have been around for many years. Agents and landlords have a legal obligation to put deposits in one of the three approved schemes within 30 days of receiving it,’ she explained. ‘There definitely needs to be reform and hopefully the Government will introduce new measures that will ensure that tenant deposits are fully protected,’ she added. Continue reading

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