Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Help for tenants with tenancy deposit protection claims

Note - the Landlord Law Blog has now moved to www.landlordlawblog.co.uk.

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I read a news report recently which said that about 97% of all landlords holding deposits have not yet joined one of the government authorised tenancy deposit schemes. Although one reason for this surprisingly high figure may be that many landlords have not needed to join a scheme yet, it is still disgraceful. So I have decided to do something about it!

I have therefore drafted up two county court claim forms (one for tenants who paid deposits after 6 April 2007 and one for tenants who paid the deposit earlier and whose tenancy was renewed after 6 April 2007) and a set of instructions, to enable tenants to reclaim their damage deposit and the 'fine' of three times the damage deposit figure, and these are being given away free of charge to annual members of my online service at www.landlordlaw.co.uk.

I did consider adding this to my list of online kits. However I charge extra for these as they are very detailed and include telephone advice. The tenancy deposit claim is fairly straightforward (4 pages of instructions as opposed to about 30) and I know that many tenants will not be able to afford my subscription fee and an extra fee for a kit. I am afraid I do want the subscription fee though (I have to earn a living somehow)! Also if the tenants are members, this will allow them to ask questions in the members discussion forum, which will serve instead of the telephone advice.

Hopefully my landlords will not be too annoyed about this and think I have betrayed them! But my site is for both landlords and tenants, and I have to keep tenants interests in mind too. All my landlord members should be already complying with the scheme anyway, and if they are dong it, why should other landlords get away with flouting the law?

I would be interested in any feedback from tenants using the forms to bring a claim.

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12 comments:

Geoff Wood said...

Point 1 - as a landlord I don't have to take a deposit, and many of my friends are so dismayed by the paperwork that we are dispensing with deposits.
2 -the take up will only apply when a new tenancy is being issued. You don't have to "join" - although the schemes would all like you to do so.
Each has different paperwork and it is a minefield. don't expect tenants to get their deposits back within ten days - the Government's original, worthy objective - because we still want to see utility bills are paid (for example)
3 - an agent friend tells me the custodial scheme is beleaguered by application and is failing to cope
4 - where are the prescribed forms?
I could go on - but to have you creating forms to "assist" tenants to make their claims when the schemes already facilitate this is beyond belief.
5 - in 12 years I have never had a disputed deposit. Is this another case of government missing the target? The bad guys getting away?
Geoff
geoff@halogenhomes.co.uk

Tessa said...

1. Of course you do not have to take a deposit,
2. or indeed join a scheme until a deposit subject to the scheme is taken.
3,4 The prescribed forms for landlords to serve are supposed to be provided by the scheme administrators. If they fail to provide them putting landlords in breach of the rules, landlords should join them in as third parties to any claim made by the tenants for compensation, as it will be their fault that the notice has not been served, not the landlords.
5. You are obviously a responsible landlord and will do your best to comply with the legislation, and not break the law. I have created the forms to assist tenants of bad landlords - the people who give all landlords a bad name. Why should they ‘get away’ with blatantly not complying with the new rules when good landlords do?

Tessa said...

Further to my post above, I have now been contacted by my contact from the Deposit Protection Service (who run the custodial scheme) who tells me:

"We have no back log of work whatsoever, all our deposit submissions are processed same day, all registrations and registration fulfilment documents are processed same day, and we're consistently meeting all of our contracted service levels".

The company are of course well used to running this sort of scheme as they have run a very sucessful scheme in Australia for over 8 years, so I am not surprised that they are up to date with their processing.

Anonymous said...

To Geoff Wood: Re point 3 - Landlords have no right to withold deposits pending confirmed payment of utility bills or for non payment of utility bills. Its not your responsibility or right to enforce payment of bills by tenants. Perhaps you need a refresher course in being a Landlord - like so many other landlords and letting agents.

Tessa said...

That is quite right, if the utility bill is in the name of the tenant. The landlord cannot withhold the damage deposit on that basis. However I can see why it annoys landlords as it may mean the property will become blacklisted if unpaid bills and CCJs are registered against it.

By the way, ignore what I said earlier about the deposit scheme companies providing the notification form for landlords. I was wrong to say they may be liable if they do not. However if you are a landlord and your deposit company does not provide the form, we now have one on Landlord-Law for our annual members to download and use.

peter said...

Why a seperate form for deposits paid before TDS and deposits paid after TDS?

As far as I can tell there should be no difference.

There is some confusion over which form should be used --- should it be N1 or N208?

Peter

Tessa said...

Because the factual situations, which are described in the wording on my pre-drafted forms, are different. I have used form N1.

peter said...

On what basis have you used N1? I know that one person submitted a claim on N1 only to be advised by the court that N208 should be used: http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=8752

Nobody seems to know, really!!!

Peter

Tessa said...

So far as I am aware, form N1 should be used where there is no other special form prescribed for the type of claim. I have had a look at the notes on the court rules for the use of form N208 which sets out the types of claim it should be used for. Unless I am missing something, I cannot see the TDPS claim. You will find the notes here

I know that at least one person has used my forms and the case has been issued successfully. However I do not know what the final outcome was.

peter said...

I see...does that mean that one could in theory use the moneyclaim.gov.uk website for TDS claims?

Peter

Tessa said...

Probably

Tessa said...

Note that since I made the comments above, the Court have indicated that the form 8 procedure should be used rather than form N1. Please ignore my earlier comments in this regard.