Hundreds of thousands of landlords are in breach of the law over tenant deposits.
Almost 300,000 landlords have not protected their tenants’ deposit money resulting in around £514 million not being placed in an approved tenancy deposit scheme.
The government created these schemes to stop abuse of tenants’ money, for example by landlords who might spend it on wear and tear without consultation or agreement. A dispute resolution programme is now used to determine whether any money kept by the landlord is held back fairly.
The figures quoted represent around 15 per cent of all landlords, who could be subject to fines of up to £2,400.
The average size of a protected deposit is £1,040, meaning that landlords could be collecting over £8 million in interest every year on money they should not have control over – as well as leaving tenants few protections when their tenancy ends and they are entitled to their money back.
There are now calls to enforce the rules centrally so that tenants are not left to report landlords who do not comply with the law. “It’s not right that tenants are left responsible for taking their landlord to court if their deposit hasn’t been protected,” comments Hannah Maundrell of Money.co.uk. “The government needs to step in and take decisive action. Introducing a compulsory register listing every landlord that rents out property in England and Wales would be a start. This works for Scotland and Northern Ireland and it seems crazy this hasn’t been brought in across the UK.” Ratings and reviews from tenants would also lend more transparency to the system and enable new tenants to make informed decisions.
Tenancy deposit schemes also provide safeguards for landlords, and there are no costs involved in placing money in them.
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