Q. I recently moved in to a new property that I am renting. I paid my landlord a rather large sum of money for the deposit and didn’t think anything of it. When I mentioned the amount to my friend, she asked me if the deposit had been protected. When I said I didn’t know, she was shocked. What should I do?
A. If you have entered into an assured shorthold tenancy agreement the deposit should be paid into one of three government backed tenancy deposit schemes. Once paid into the scheme, the deposit will be safe until you and your landlord both agree to release it.
When your tenancy comes to an end the scheme will ensure that the deposit is returned to you, provided the property is not damaged, you meet your obligations under the tenancy and payment of rent and bills has been made. Deductions from the deposit can be made for any breaches of the tenancy.
Should there be a dispute when returning the deposit, your scheme’s dispute resolution service will decide on how much of your deposit should be returned. Or, you can also ask that it stays in the scheme until you have resolved any differences you may have. Without any issues, the deposit should be returned to you within 10 days.
If your deposit is not protected your landlord could be fined up to three times the amount of the deposit you paid, and they may be unable to evict you on the usual grounds.
You should check with your landlord or letting agent to see whether your deposit has been protected. They should provide you with a summary of your scheme and details of where your deposit will be kept. If the deposit has not been protected, or if there are any other issues, then seek advice from a local solicitor.
(Article published 27/03/2017)