Further Warnings to Landlords about Tenants Deposit ProtectionMake Text Bigger
Following my blog The Devil is in the Detail, I want to pass on some information that will help landlords avoid being caught out.
- “When you protect a deposit you are asked if there is a third party who has provided the deposit. Most of us assume that the tenant has provided their own deposit and click the NO box. But did we actually asks the tenant?”
In a recent case, the Mother of a tenant had provided the deposit and, because the landlord was unaware of this, he did not send her a copy of the Protection Certificate and prescribed information about using the scheme. As a result, the mother was awarded 3 times the deposit by the courts.
Good practice- and I shall certainly be doing this myself in future- is to tick the YES box and cut and paste the form onto a word document. When a tenancy is agreed, I am going to ask the tenant to complete the application form and sign it. I will the use the information that they have provided when I protect the deposit on the online form. This has three purposes:-
- They will have signed to say that they have given me the information and cannot then claim that I have excluded a third party (if there is one) or not included a valid contact address for after the tenancy has ended;
- The tenant will know from the outset that I am a professional landlord and will have more confidence handing over the deposit to me;
- It will save me time when I complete the online form.
I only use MyDeposits, other schemes may have different paperwork so you should check this out.
- “Many landlords do give the tenant a copy of the Protection Certificate within the legal deadline (currently 14 days but about to rise to 30 days as I said in my first blog) time but we must also give the prescribed information about the scheme. If you do not give this information to tenants you will not have met your legal obligations.”
These documents must be sent to everyone who is involved, all those who contributed to the deposit (if it is a joint tenancy) and anyone who gave them the funds as described above.
The information is on the MyDeposits website and I am sure that the other two schemes will also provide the information on their website.
Many landlords believe that, because there is a “Lead Tenant” who will be the main point of contact for the deposit scheme, they do not need to give copies to anyone else but this simply is not the case. You must give copies to everyone involved.
As an aside, I heard a case of a mother who tried three times to pay her sons rent to the landlord but the landlord told her that she only accepted rent from “the lead tenant”. This was a joint tenancy for a group for a group of students. Could you imagine what the courts would make of a landlord would refused the rent three times and then took legal action when the tenant did not pay?! The “lead tenant “is for the purpose of tenancy deposit protection and in all other circumstance all tenants are equal “jointly and severally responsible”
I am sure that I don’t really need to say this, but for clarity, if you refuse rent that is offered in legal tender do not expect to win if the tenant refuses to pay and you take legal action. This also applies to those landlords who “insist” on a direct debit. This might be your preferred method of payment but if a tenant offers you cash or a cheque (with time to clear by the due date) just say “thank you” and if it is cash issue a receipt or, better still, a rent book.
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