Rent deposit complaints up 80%
The average deposit to move in to a privately rented home is now £979 and having a deposit unfairly withheld when a tenancy ends can be not only stressful, but push some people into debt and make it difficult for them to move to another property without the money for a new deposit. Between 2009/10 and 2011/12 deposit issue matters recorded by the Shelter helpline increased by 86%, from 1,764 to 3,288.
Here are two examples of what can happen:
* Simone, 35, her husband and baby daughter live in Walthamstow. Their landlord did not protect the £800 deposit they paid him when they moved in. When they came to move out he said he had spent it and they could not have it back. They are now going to the small claims court.
* Karina, 50, lives in Plymouth with her two children. She found out that her £500 deposit was not protected after she had contacted the three deposit schemes and found that it was not registered. She is now struggling to get it back from her landlord.
Tenancy deposit protection schemes were introduced in 2007 to ensure that landlords kept deposits safe, but awareness of the schemes remains low. A recent survey by digital inventory specialist Imfuna showed that 57% of private renters were not aware of the schemes when their tenancy began.
Last year Shelter campaigned to tighten up tenancy deposit legislation to provide greater protection for renters. The current position is that landlords who fail to place their tenants’ deposit in one of three authorised schemes within 30 days of a tenancy starting can be taken to court and face a penalty of one to three times the value of the deposit, which is then awarded to the tenant.
“It is extremely worrying that we have seen such a huge rise in problems with tenancy deposits at a time when privately renting is no longer just a stepping stone to something better, but a long term reality for more and more families,” said Campbell Robb, Chief Executive at Shelter. “While we know that most landlords do the right thing, some cause absolute misery for their tenants, accusing them of owing thousands of pounds for damage that doesn’t exist or falsely claiming to have protected their deposit and then never returning it.”
Advice on inventories, deposits and contracts from a landlord’s perspective will be included on the live webTV show www.letyourproperty.tv tomorrow morning at 11.30am when Eddie Hooker from Total Landlord Insurance and and Nick Lyons co-founder and Managing Director of No Letting Go, will answer queries on these topics.renting
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