THE days when landlords could keep tenants’ deposits for no reason are over – but the Citizens’ Advice Bureau says not enough tenants know.
Swindon’s branch of the CAB has enlisted the Adver’s help in getting the message across.
Since 2007 private landlords and agents have been legally obliged to sign up to one of three Government-backed schemes, binding them to arbitration if they wish to keep a deposit or part of one.
If they fail to sign up to or abide by the scheme, they risk being ordered by a district court to pay up to three times the deposit to the tenant.
In spite of this the CAB says many tenants have no idea they are protected.
Swindon branch chief executive Claire Newport said: “In the past there was little tenants could do if their landlord chose to keep all or part of their deposit at the end of a tenancy.
“This law should spell an end to all that, but it relies on tenants checking that their landlords have signed up to one of the schemes and that their money is protected.”
Swindon CAB advice services manager Paula Austin said: “We probably get something like two or three cases per week.
“Recently we had a person who ended a tenancy and felt she’d done everything she had to do. She hadn’t caused any damage and needed her deposit because she was on a low income and planned to used it for a new tenancy.
“She then found that her deposit was not protected and the landlord told her he wasn’t going to return it. He made charges of some hundreds of pounds for cleaning.”
Realising her only redress was through complex civil court proceedings with no guarantee of success, she had to let the money go. “The landlord got away with it,” Paula added.
Depending on individual circumstances, landlords must protect deposits by registering them with The Deposit Protection Service (0844 472 7000 or www.depositprotection.com) The Tenancy Deposit Scheme (0845 226 7837 or www.tds.gb.com) or My Deposits (0871 703 0552 or www.mydeposits.co.uk) Claire Newport urges tenants to check with landlords or prospective landlords to make sure they were registered.
She added: “If you find your deposit is not protected, get advice straight away. If your landlord is threatening you with notice to quit and your deposit is not protected, do get advice as you may have a defence against eviction.”
Swindon CAB is at 1 Faringdon Road and can be reached on 08444 994114, and a fact sheet about deposit schemes can be found at www.adviceguide.org.uk