A report by the BBC has shed light on unfair landlords who target students with tenancy deposit deductions.
The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has exposed the often unfair practices some rogue landlords use on students in relation to their tenancy deposit.
Various students and student bodies were interviewed on the programme, where they discussed unfair deductions, tenancy deposit schemes being ignored, and the students who are fighting back with a new rate-your-accommodation website.
There are, of course, legitimate reasons for landlords and letting agents to deduct deposits. However, we heard from dozens of students giving stories of being penalised beyond the normal, reasonable and fair amount.
Jessica Hickey, a graduate from the University of Lincoln, told the interviewer:
I think landlords look at us and think we’re just these dumb kids who don’t know what we’re doing. It’s not fair, it’s not okay.
Unfair tenancy deposit deductions
At the time of the interview, Jessica had been challenging her deposit deduction – amounting to £1,600 between four housemates – for two months.
They decided we’ve not left the property in a fit state. Even though we’ve been there for two years – they’ve not allowed for wear and tear.
We’ve been charged for weeding – we’ve apparently left the garden in not a fit state even though we had the next-door neighbour come over with his strimmer.
Jessica also told the programme that they have been charged for issues related to the accommodation that they themselves had reported to the landlord earlier in the tenancy, asking for them to be fixed.
The story was similar for Cardiff graduate, Benjamin McNeil, who had £900 deducted from a £1,400 deposit. Some of the deductions included:
- £150 for cleaning the property, though, Benjamin stated: “It was far cleaner when we left than when we moved in“
- £30 for rubbish removal, even though Benjamin said they ensured nothing was left behind
- £100 “to essentially to paint over mould” in one of the bedrooms, which, he says, he had made the landlord aware of throughout the tenancy
Benjamin told the report that the issue had now been resolved, with £500 of the disputed £900 being returned.
Tenancy Deposit Schemes are being ignored
The Tenant Fees Act was introduced earlier this year in order to safeguard tenants from unfair agency fees, but this does not cover the issue of tenancy deposit deductions.
There have, however, been laws put into place to stop rogue landlords unfairly deducting money from the deposit. By law, under the Housing Act 2004, every landlord is obligated to protect a tenancy deposit into one of three Government approved deposit protection schemes. These schemes are:
The landlord is supposed to do this at the start of every tenancy. These schemes protect the deposit while any potential dispute is resolved fairly.
The students on the BBC report claimed that the requirement to protect their deposit in a Government approved scheme is often being ignored. We know that, if this is the case, you may have a claim for compensation after lodging a tenancy deposit claim.
Nation Union of Students – More needs to be done
The National Union of Students (NUS) conducted a “Homes Fit for Study” report earlier in 2019. In that report they found that four in ten students renting privately live in hazardous properties.
They also found that only 61% of surveyed students who paid a deposit said they had received it back in full at the end of their tenancy. They discovered that:
- 27% said they had challenged the deductions formally but ended up paying them anyway
- 24% said they had not formally challenged the deductions but had disagreed with them
The organisation’s vice-president, Eva Crossan Jory, stated:
What we’re seeing more and more is unfair contracts.
Landlords charging for things that are the result of wear-and-tear or where students have complained about something not working, the landlord doesn’t fix it and then at the end of the tenancy tries to charge them for the breaking of said appliance
The government should be doing more to penalise landlords when they do break the law.
Students fighting back with CribAdvisor
Some students in Lincoln have taken matters into their own hands by creating a rate-your-accommodation website which may be able to give power back to tenants.
On CribAdvisor students can find reputable landlords, and can also share their horror stories. This can help other students avoid being ripped off by rouge landlords.
Launched in July 2019 for students in Lincoln, CribAdvisor has already received more than 450 reviews and will soon open to students at universities throughout the UK. The students who built the site hope the platform will allow tenants to make informed decisions and hold providers to account.
How can Tenancy Deposit Claims help?
While CribAdvisor is a brilliant idea, sometimes you need a helping hand when tackling rouge landlords. If your landlord has failed to protect your deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme, you may be owed compensation.
At Tenancy Deposit Claims, we have a dedicated team of experts who are used to dealing with landlords, day in, day out. If your deposit has not been protected and you do decide to make a claim against your landlord, we are committed to securing the best possible outcome for you and we will keep you up to date in relation to your case, every step of the way.
Your landlord is liable for up to three times the amount of the original deposit.