Since April 2007 most residential tenants’ deposits have had to be protected in government-approved schemes. Landlords who fail to do so can be taken to court by aggrieved tenants. The courts were initially lenient where landlords were slow in protecting deposits rather than not protecting them at all, or where tenancies had ended before the case reached court, but that is no longer the case. And things are about to get tougher.
From 6 April 2012, the latest rule change means landlords have thirty days to protect deposits. Those who fail to ensure that deposits are adequately protected can be sanctioned by the court even if the tenancy ends, and even if the deposit is subsequently protected. Where a deposit is unprotected the landlord cannot use the usual section 21 eviction process, and the court will order that they repay the deposit to the tenant together with a penalty of between one and three times the deposit.
Iain Robinson, a solicitor who acts for residential landlords, said:-
“This measure might be designed to target rogue landlords, but I imagine the ones who will be hit by it most often will be the ‘accidental’ landlords and pensioners using a rental property for retirement income. I have even seen it affect executors of an estate with tenanted property. It’s a salutary lesson to them to take their responsibilities as landlords seriously.”
Landlords do not usually need legal assistance to protect deposits but any landlord wishing to update their tenancies, check their regulatory compliance or deal with an unruly tenant can contact Slee Blackwell Solicitors on 01271 372128