The requirement to protect a tenancy deposit taken for an assured shorthold tenancy in England and Wales was introduced on 6 April 2007, following its inclusion in the Housing Act 2004. Initially, deposits needed protecting within 14 calendar days of receipt by the landlord. This was subsequently changed to 30 days on 6 April 2012 as a result of the Localism Bill 2011.
The consequences for not registering a deposit correctly are significant. A Landlord or Agent can be fined between 1 and 3 times the value of the deposit. Also, if the deposit has not been registered correctly a Section 21 cannot be issued.
At the end of the tenancy, if a dispute occurs on check out there are further procedures and timescales to be stuck to. If the timescales and not followed, the Deposit Protection Service will automatically find in favour of the tenant. This may seem a little unfair but it needs to be remembered that the deposit is the Tenants money and the Landlord needs to prove why they have a claim on it which, in turn, the Tenant need to argue why they don’t!
The DPS clearly set out the process at the very start of any adjudication but these dates are set in stone. Dealing with adjudication can be time consuming if done properly but it is worth doing thoroughly as you really only get one shot at this. Evidence is key – both photographic and written. It is worth spending time putting together all the evidence that the DPS request and any additional, relevant information. Try to make the adjudicators job easier for them by highlighting appropriate paragraphs, numbering photographs referred to in documentation and number and list all evidence provided. Adjudicators look through several of these every day so you want to make sure they don’t miss anything pertinent to the case. If evidence is received it will be sent to the other side for their comments, once the adjudicator has glanced over it. This is the last point at which you can comment or provide any further evidence. It will then go through the full adjudication. Remember – the adjudicators decision is final! So spend time on getting the evidence right as there is no comeback!
If you want any advice on adjudication please feel free to ask.