Anyone renting a property from a private landlord or through a letting agent will be familiar of the process of paying a 'damage deposit' before they get the keys; but did you know that you can claim compensation from your Landlord if they don't follow the proper procedure?
A deposit paid by a tenant to protect the Landlord against damage to the property or against rent arrears is called a 'security deposit'. It's important to remember that a 'holding deposit' or fees paid to a letting agent are not the same as a security deposit- although it can take an expert to spot the difference (despite promises from the government, letting agent fees aren't a thing of the past just yet!).
Your Landlord or letting agent must protect your deposit with a government recognised scheme AND give you written information about that scheme within 30 days of the day you pay the deposit. The three schemes currently are 'MyDeposits', 'DPS' and 'TDS'. The deposit must be kept protected in one of these schemes for the whole time you are in the property.
Common mistakes made by Landlords can entitle the tenant to claim compensation, they include:
- Thinking that the deposit doesn't need to be protected until the tenant has moved-in (its 30 days from the date the deposit is paid)
- Failing to give the tenant the correct 'prescribed information' about their deposit within 30 days
- Failing to keep the deposit protected for the entire tenancy
- Landlord's often have to pay the deposit schemes a subscription fee to keep the deposit protected, if this fee gets missed then the deposit can become unprotected
...and if your Landlord makes any of the mistakes above YOU can claim compensation of between 1 and 3 times the value of the deposit!
Example: A tenant pays a deposit of £1,000. Three months later they realise that they don't know where their deposit is protected, they contact their Landlord who gives them a deposit certificate. The tenant can make a claim because the information was not given to them in the first 30 days after the deposit was paid. Their compensation would be at least £1,000 but could be as much as £3,000! The tenant can claim straight away or wait until they move out.
Example: A tenant moves-out of a property and the Landlord wants to keep their deposit for damage to the property, the tenant says the damage was there when they moved-in. The tenant can use the deposit scheme's dispute resolution service, but there's no guarantee whether they will side with the Landlord or the Tenant. Swain & Co contact the deposit scheme and discover that the deposit wasn't protected until 6 months after it was paid. The tenant is entitled to their whole deposit back and compensation.
You can claim for up-to 6 years after you've moved out of a property or whilst you're still a tenant. So why wait?
See an expert housing adviser from Swain & Co today and see whether you have a claim. The first advice is FREE and there's no obligation to pay anything. At the first contact we'll advise you whether you have a claim and discuss what funding options are available. You may qualify for No-Win, No-Fee advice or be able to pay for your case in instalments- you may be able to recover the costs of your case from your Landlord at the end of your case.