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The Tenants Guide to Deposit Safety When Renting a Private Property

tenants guide to deposits

So you have finally finished looking for a house to rent, arranging viewings and deciding which of the properties on offer best suits your needs. Now that you have made a decision about where to live, it’s time to deal with the logistics of renting a private property. As an experienced online letting agent, we help thousands of tenants each year to find and move in to their new house or flat.

One of the many things to deal with amidst the excitement of finding a new home and moving in is arranging a tenancy deposit. Many first time tenants find that getting the deposit right can be a bit of a headache with confusion surrounding who it needs to be paid to, how secure it is and whether you’ll really get it back. Here, we outline what to expect and how to keep your deposit safe…

Know Your Rights
Deposits on private rental property have changed recently so even if you have rented a property previously and paid a deposit, you should be aware that changes to the Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) regulations came into effect in England and Wales on 6 April 2012. This resulted in some important changes to the timeframes in which your deposit must be returned. Knowing your rights is vital to your own peace of mind and the safety and security of your funds when a deposit is placed with a landlord. Be aware that

1. As a tenant you are entitled to receive your deposit back no later than 10 days after leaving the property if there are no unresolved disputes between yourself and the landlord.
2. Both letting agencies and landlords are bound by a legal requirement to place your deposit in a Deposit Protection Scheme no more than 30 days after the date of receipt.
3. A deposit protection agency must also be used if you are a student and your rent is being paid by your parents or a legal guardian
4. Only certain deposit protection schemes may be used, whether you choose to find a property via an online letting agent or deal directly with a landlord. They are: Deposit Protection Service, MyDeposits, DepositGuard and Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

The Legal Bit
Your deposit should be secured in a government authorised deposit protection scheme no later than four weeks after you provide it to the landlord. There should be a section within the tenancy agreement that outlines where your deposit is held and promoted. Check that the scheme stipulated on your tenancy agreement is one of the following:

• Deposit Protection Service (DPS)
• My Deposits
• Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)
• DepositGuard

Contact Details

Your own contact details should be registered with the relevant tenancy deposit scheme when you pay the deposit. You’ll need to make sure that that any changes to your mobile phone, email address and your new forwarding address, once you leave a property, are promptly updated. Remember: it is impossible to get your deposit back if no one can contact you! You should receive an email or some form of contact from the agencies logging the deposit.

Do Your Homework
Ensure that you have paperwork that clearly states all deposit information and any charges or tenant fees before you commit to handing over your hard earned cash. Your Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) must include written confirmation of which scheme will be holding your deposit. Verbal agreements without proper documentation should not be trusted.

Read the Small Print
Read your AST agreement in full particularly the section relating to how the property will be left and how soon after leaving your deposit will be returned. It is important to know how many months notice you are required to give when leaving the property in order to receive your deposit back. While it may put a dampener on the excitement of moving house, it’s important to be fully aware of the landlord’s criteria and any and all conditions surrounding the return of your deposit before you transfer the money and make a commitment.

Always conduct an inventory of both the interior and exterior of your ‘home to be’ prior to signing any tenancy agreement. This can take the form of a few notes and photos or can be more detailed. Sometimes the letting agent or landlord will provide an inventory or may conduct an inventory in your presence. An inventory will ensure that the cost of any existing repairs are calculated accordingly rather than deducted from your deposit. Likewise this gives peace of mind that any damages that may occur after you have locked up and left are not paid for with your deposit. If there is damage to the property when you move in, do not hesitate to take photographs as a safeguard for the full return of your funds (providing you do not cause any additional damage of course!).

Money Management
Pay your rent on time. While your Landlord has a responsibility to fix any issues with the property your rental agreement required you to pay the rent on time. Failure to do so may end up with a forced eviction and no return of deposit.

If you’re a tenant and would like more information about renting a private property, why not take a look around the rest of the blog?




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