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Personal Legal Services

Tenancy Deposit Claims Guide

Tenancy Deposit Claims Guide

If you’ve paid your current/former landlord a tenancy deposit in the past six years and they haven’t returned it in whole or in part, then you are eligible for making a tenancy deposit claim.

If you’ve paid a deposit as part of a rental agreement, you could be able to make a tenancy deposit or compensation claim if the deposit isn’t returned to you. There are circumstances whereby you can still make a compensation claim, even if the total deposit has been returned. A good example is when the landlord had not protected your deposit.

Landlords are required by the law to put their tenant’s deposit into one of the Government-backed tenancy deposit schemes, and failure to do so calls for penalisation as well as tenant compensation.

The deposit protection schemes were put into place to prevent landlords from using the money as additional income. The establishment of the schemes makes the deposit retrieval process easier.

If any of the above-mentioned situations happens to be what you are facing, then you should consult a compensation claim solicitor to hold your landlord accountable and claim compensation.

What’s Tenancy Deposit Protection?

When you rent an apartment, house, room in shared accommodation or any other kind of property, the landlord will ask for a deposit. The deposit is to secure the property before you move in. It also gives the landlord security in cases like when you don’t pay the rent.

Once you pay the deposit, the landlord is expected to adhere to some procedures, including putting the deposit with a protection scheme. These schemes include MyDeposits, Tenancy Deposit Scheme and Deposit Protection Service.

If they decide not to put the deposit into one of these schemes, then they will require an insurance policy to ascertain that your deposit is protected during your period of occupancy.

How Do You Know the Landlord Has Protected Your Deposit?

As of April 2007, laws were established that require landlords to protect your deposit. If yours haven’t done so, or even notified you which scheme the deposit is held with, then you are eligible for making a deposit protection compensation claim.

The Tenancy Deposit Protection Rules

The Tenancy Deposit ProtectIf you’re renting a property with Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), the landlord should follow the rules. These vary in Northern Ireland and Scotland compared to Wales and England. In the latter, AST is the most common form of tenancy. In situations where you’ve paid your deposit through an agency, then the agency is expected to protect your deposit. An agency has to adhere to the same rules and regulations.

Once you have made the deposit, the estate agent or landlord is expected to provide you with the following information within 30 days:

  • The address of the property you’re renting and the amount you have made as a deposit.
  • The applicable deposit protection scheme and how to contact the agent/landlord.
  • Information regarding how the protection scheme functions
  • How to retrieve your deposit and what deductions are applicable. Including details on when you can claim compensation.
  • What will transpire if you have a dispute with the landlord regarding the deposit? Ideally, this should include information on claiming tenancy deposit compensation.

This notification has to be signed by the agent or landlord to ascertain authenticity.

Does Your Deposit Need to Be Protected?

By now, you must be wondering, how do I know if my deposit is protected? An important thing to note is that not every form of rental deposit or tenancy needs your deposit to be placed into a protection scheme. Here are instances where your deposit doesn’t need to be put into a protection scheme:

  • When renting accommodation as a student in halls of residence. An example is a university campus.
  • When lodging in the same property as the landlord. Including renting a room in a flat or house.
  • When your tenancy is assured or pre-January 1989 (which is regulated).

In these cases, you can still take the landlord to court because even though they aren’t obliged to use a scheme, they still must protect them in some manner.

Can You Get Back Your Deposit and How Long Does It Take?

If you can prove that you have been up to date with your rent payments and haven’t caused any damage to the property, then you should be given back your deposit in full, within ten days.

If the deposit is not returned within this period, then the landlord is considered to be withholding it, and in such a case, you can make a tenancy deposit claim. In some cases, it is possible to recover up to 3 times the initial value of the deposit.

You should also be able to make a tenancy deposit claim if the landlord has made unreasonable deductions. It is only acceptable by law is the landlord can show evidence of financial loss. Reasons for deposit deduction include property damage, arrears for your rent, and unexpected cleaning fees. However, a landlord cannot deduct from your deposit, if it’s a cost of normal wear and tear or repairs that should have been fixed.

When Are You Eligible to Make a Tenancy Deposit Claim?

You’re eligible for making a deposit compensation claim if the landlord hasn’t adhered to the law. If they did not adequately protect the deposit, you can claim damages, or even if you received the deposit in full, but it wasn’t protected. Also, if the landlord claimed to protect the deposit but didn’t give information as to how they did it, you still have grounds to make a claim.

You Have Received Partial Deposit Amount, Can You Take Action?

If the landlord only made a partial payment and think you deserved the full amount, you are still eligible for making a tenancy deposit dispute. If they have made irrational deductions, then you should make a claim.

However, you will still need to prove that you were up to date with your rent payments and haven’t done any damage to the property. Simply put, you need to show that the landlord doesn’t have any basis for retaining the portion of the tenancy deposit.

Can You Still Claim Even After Receiving All of The Money?

As earlier mentioned, there are situations where you can get your deposit back in full but can still be able to make a compensation claim. You can take the landlord to court for failure to protect your deposit, even if they fully returned it.

You can ideally make a claim if the deposit wasn’t returned within ten days, or you weren’t given accurate information with regards to how the deposit was being protected.

How To Make a Tenancy Deposit Compensation Claim

After checking if you can make a deposit compensation claim, here are few steps to follow to improve the chances of success.

1. Seek Legal Advice

You do not need a solicitor to make a deposit claim, but it is advisable to seek legal advice if possible. Usually, you cannot get legal assistance for a deposit claim unless you are claiming as part of a defence if the landlord is attempting to evict you for rent arrears.

A solicitor can take on your case under a conditional fee agreement, usually referred to as ”no win no fee”. No win no fee allows you to pursue the case without having to worry about how much it will cost. Regardless, it’s essential to understand any costs or fees you will have to pay before signing any agreement.

2. Gather Evidence

To claim compensation for not getting your deposit back, failure to protect the deposit or even late protection, you need a few pieces of evidence. These include:

  • The tenancy agreement
  • Evidence that you have paid your rent in full and on time
  • Evidence that you paid the deposit
  • Letters to and from the landlord
  • Any evidence that you’ve searched through deposit protection agencies’ sites

3. Notify the Landlord You’re Claiming

If the landlord owes you part or all of your tenancy deposit, you’ll need to send them a formal letter. The letter is known as a ”letter before action”, and it can be written and sent by your lawyer. In the letter, it’s essential to set out the details of your deposit claim.

You can take the landlord’s agent to court due to the failure of deposit protection or paying part of it. More often than not, the landlord will agree to pay the deposit back or in full and possibly pay compensation without going to court.

4. Apply to Court

In this step, you’ll need to complete the form N208. This form is easily obtainable online. Alternatively, you can go to the local county court and ask for it in the court counter.

If you’re a joint tenant, every tenant needs to make the application jointly. In the Details of Claim section, state the following:

  • What you’re asking the court to decide. This could be whether and how much of the deposit should be returned to you and or if you should be compensated.
  • The outcome you are after, like the protection or protection of your deposit or even compensation.
  • Your claim’s legal basis. This should be the Housing Act sections the landlord has violated.
  • Also, state that you are making your claim under Part 8 of the Civil Procedure Rules.

You can ideally ask the court to order the landlord to pay the court fees for initiating the application. The court will agree to this if you win the case. If you’re claiming a refund for the deposit, ask the court to order the landlord to pay interest on the amount that you’re owed. And to make it payable from the day the deposit should have been returned to you.

From here, all you have to do is send the forms and evidence attached to the court office. You will receive a Notice of Issue, telling you that the claim has been initiated and the deadline for the landlord to respond.

Will Your Claim Go to Court?

As mentioned above, most landlords and their agents will agree to settle before the case goes to court to avoid the hefty fees, penalties and time wastage involved with such procedures. When they get the letter from your lawyer, or another stage before the court (consent order), they may decide to make an out of court settlement offer. Your lawyer will tell you whether to accept or refuse this offer.

What if Your Claim Goes to Court?

If you are unable to come to an agreement and the claim goes to court, you and the landlord can be represented by lawyers. The judge will review the evidence presented by both parties and ask questions regarding the claim and evidence. If they find in your favour, the court will determine how much the landlord should pay to satisfy the deposit claim.

If you’re taking the landlord to court for deposit after ending your tenancy, they will be ordered to repay part or all of the amount. However, if you are still a tenant, chances are they will be ordered to put the deposit in a protection scheme and pay a penalty fee for breaking the law.

How Much Compensation Will You Get?

Tenancy Deposit ClaimIf the claim goes to court, they will determine how much compensation you will get. More often than not, this is between one and three times the deposit amount. In some cases, this amount could be higher. Such instances include:

  • The deposit wasn’t protected at all
  • You rented via a lettings agency
  • The tenancy deposit claim is against a professional landlord

In situations where the landlord was a bit late in protecting your deposit, expect a lower settlement.

How Long Do You Have to Make a Dispute?

You have three months from the date you vacate to raise a tenancy deposit claim. For example, if you leave the property on 31st January, you will have until the end of April to raise a deposit dispute.

Conclusion

So, there you have it, a comprehensive guide on tenancy deposit claims. Keep all the tips above in mind to avoid being taken advantage of and always seek legal assistance.