If you take a deposit for an assured shorthold tenancy, it is the landlord’s responsibility to protect it with a government authorised tenancy deposit scheme like TDS. Failure to do so can mean a hefty fine, and difficulty relying on a section 21 notice to evict your tenant.
Here are a few tips from the multi award winning TDS on how to stay the right side of the law when in comes to deposits and getting it right if you have a dispute.
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Thanks to Tenancy Deposit Scheme this checklist is FREE of charge!
Landlord Deposit Protection Checklist
|Start of the tenancy|
|When you receive the deposit, you have 30 days to register it with a government approved scheme.|
|If you are relying on an agent to do it for you, the same deadline applies and you are liable if they get it wrong. So make sure they don’t!|
|If the agent is collecting the deposit and passing it on to you, the clock starts ticking when they receive it – not you!|
|Irrespective who is protecting the deposit, the landlord is also responsible for telling the tenant where it is protected. This is in the form of “prescribed Information” and must be given within 30 days of receiving the deposit. TDS provide a template for landlords to use.|
|Prescribed Information also includes a scheme leaflet – such as this one from TDS.
|Do ensure you draw up a robust tenancy agreement that details all the things you expect the tenant to do and pay. Make sure any fees are clear and that your agreement specifies what the deposit can be used for.|
|Do make sure you conduct a comprehensive inventory and ideally check the tenants in so the document can be signed. If this can be done independently, even better but either way make sure the condition and cleanliness is both noted.|
|Keep all your documentation safe. You might need it later!|
|During the tenancy|
|Keep a written record of any communications you have with your tenant.|
|If you give permission for something to be changed, like a wall decorated, make sure you specify how you expect it returned. Don’t assume it will be repainted magnolia if you haven’t agreed in writing it will be!|
|As the end of the fixed term approaches, ascertain the tenant’s plans so you can remarket the property accordingly and arrange the check out or draw up a renewed tenancy agreement.|
|Try and do a pre check out before the tenancy ends, to give the tenant some pointers on things you expect to be sorted before they move out.|
|Confirm in writing the check-out arrangements and remind the tenant of any special conditions they might have overlooked.|
|End of the tenancy|
|Arrange a check out inventory on the last day of the tenancy or as soon as possible after.|
|Quantify any claim you seek to make from the deposit and convey this to the tenant as soon as you can once the tenancy has ended.|
|Make sure you only make charges permitted by your tenancy agreement.|
|Justify your charges to the tenant if necessary. It is not unreasonable to be asked for evidence of the cost.|
|If the tenant disagrees with your proposals, do negotiate. 99% of tenancies are resolved by agreement.|
|Make sure you factor in wear and tear and betterment. You cannot expect the tenant to reinstate any damage to a better standard that it was at the start of the tenancy. TDS produce some helpful case studies that are worth checking out.|
|If there is a dispute, ensure you return the undisputed sum.|
|Ensure any dispute is logged with a scheme as soon as possible, and for insured schemes no later than three months after the end of the tenancy.|