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Deposit Protection schemes are in place to provide a fair and uncomplicated process for returning deposits once a tenancy has ended. Under section 213 Housing Act 2004, landlords must protect assured shorthold tenancy deposits by placing it within a Deposit Protection Scheme within 30 days of receiving the money. The landlord must then provide the tenant with a certificate informing them where the money is held. Once the tenancy comes to an end, both parties should discuss any deductions (if any) and the landlord should return the agreed amount within 10 days.
Some agreements do not have a requirement for a deposit to be protected, such as a licence agreement, lodger agreements and student halls arrangements. It is important to distinguish between these types of agreement as you will not be entitled to deposit protection if you have one of these and your rights will be determined by the contractual terms within the tenancy agreement.
Where a dispute arises both parties should attempt to reach a resolution through private negotiation but, where this is not possible, the deposit protection scheme can support you to reach a resolution. You should contact the deposit protect scheme directly to raise a dispute within 3 months of vacating the property. Deposit protection scheme can assist in resolutions where the landlord refuses to return your deposit or there is a disagreement about the deductions being made. Although, the burden of proof is with the landlord to justify deductions, the scheme will ask both parties to provide evidence.
If a landlord fails to protect your deposit, you may be entitled to claim back the deposit and, at the discretion of the court, up to three times the amount. If you are concerned your deposit may not have been protected, you should follow these steps.
Once you have established that the deposit has not been protected you should send a letter before action to the landlord prior to beginning a claim. The letter should outline your concerns and request for the deposit to be returned within 14 days. The letter should clearly state that failure to comply with the request may result in the matter escalating to court.
If the 14 days lapse and the landlord has failed to respond or continued to refuse to refund the deposit you can consider escalating the concern through your local magistrates or county court. To apply, you will need to complete 3 copies of the N208 form alongside any evidence you wish to reply upon such as the tenancy agreement or evidence of your deposit being paid to the landlord.
The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 states that if a deposit scheme is not used, a Tenant can apply to the First-Tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber), either during the tenancy or up to three months after it ends. The Tribunal can order the landlord to pay up to 3 times the deposit to the tenant.
The Tenancy Deposit Schemes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 states that landlords should protect the deposit within 14 days of receiving the deposit and provide a receipt to the tenant within 28 days. If landlords fail to comply with these requirements, you can contact your local council who are able to impose penalties of up to 3 times the deposit or a fine of up to £20,000.
Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland does not have a tenancy Deposit Protection scheme currently.
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