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Tenancy Deposit Claims – Trading name of Smooth Commercial Law Limited

Website Terms & Conditions – 26.11.19

BACKGROUND:

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means collectively any online facilities, tools, services or information that Smooth Commercial Law Limited makes available through the Web Site either now or in the future;

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“User” / “Users”

means any third party that accesses the Web Site and is not employed by Smooth Commercial Law Limited and acting in the course of their employment; and

“Web Site”

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Smooth Commercial Law Limited accepts no liability for any disruption or non-availability of the Web Site resulting from external causes including, but not limited to, ISP equipment failure, host equipment failure, communications network failure, power failure, natural events, acts of war or legal restrictions and censorship.

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8.3 Every effort has been made to ensure that these terms and conditions adhere strictly with the relevant provisions of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. However, in the event that any of these terms are found to be unlawful, invalid or otherwise unenforceable, that term is to be deemed severed from these terms and conditions and shall not affect the validity and enforceability of the remaining terms and conditions. This term shall apply only within jurisdictions where a particular term is illegal.

  1. No Waiver

In the event that any party to these Terms and Conditions fails to exercise any right or remedy contained herein, this shall not be construed as a waiver of that right or remedy.

  1. Previous Terms and Conditions

In the event of any conflict between these Terms and Conditions and any prior versions thereof, the provisions of these Terms and Conditions shall prevail unless it is expressly stated otherwise.

  1. Notices

All notices / communications shall be given to us either by post to our Premises (see address above) or by email to info@smooth-commercial-law.co.uk. Such notice will be deemed received 3 days after posting if sent by first class post, the day of sending if the email is received in full on a business day and on the next business day if the email is sent on a weekend or public holiday.

  1. Law and Jurisdiction

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Latest News..

tenancy deposit claim

What tenants want!

We asked over one hundred tenants what changes they would like to see the new Government introduce to offer them better levels of protection. The results were fascinating and thought-provoking. Here are the five most popular answers and our analysis as to whether they are plausible.

Introduce rent caps

The most popular suggestion in all of our discussions with tenants was in relation to a rent cap.  Over 25% of the students surveyed would like to see a maximum rent introduced linked to inflation, income or location. 

London Mayor Sadiq Kahn has suggested rent capping in London before but it failed to attract much attention in the recent election.  However, this is something that has been implemented in other countries. In the German capital, which has recently announced a five-year rent freeze, rents are controlled both within and between tenancies.  In New York City, some apartments have their rents capped by a board. 

As appealing as rent capping sounds, what couldn’t be agreed between our tenants was how this would be enforced and who would decide what the maximum would be. There are also concerns within the market that it could decrease the number of properties and ultimately the options available for tenants. Henry Pyor, a property expert, thinks rent caps are a bad idea: 

“If you impose rent controls it would destabilise the market. There would be a serious withdrawal of rented accommodation.” 

Registered Council Licences

One of the tenants survey, Danny, had an interesting suggestion in relation to dealing with rogue landlords and bad tenants. He proposed a new rule where all landlords and tenants have to be registered with the local council, in order to deter any bad behaviour. 

He went further to suggest that properties should also be registered and inspected before and after a tenancy to ensure that it is safe and well maintained. Whilst many of our tenants agreed that there needs to be better control of properties and individuals, it was not clear how this would be managed. Councils are already under incredible pressure to manage their own properties and with funding drastically cut in recent years, it is not something that could be rolled out without significant investment.

Whilst we like the motivation behind this suggestion in making processes more transparent, it is unlikely to be introduced by a Conservative Government who do not have any radical plans to increase local funding soon.

Allow pets

This is one for animal lovers! Many of our tenants felt that there shouldn’t be a blanket ban on allowing pets and that deposits should not be increased if they are accepted. Currently, under the Consumer Rights Act (2015), landlords can only refuse for pets to be kept in their property based on reasonable evidence. This would include refusal on the grounds on the animal’s size, the amount of damage it could cause and how this could impact being able to rent out the property in the future. 

The Labour party said in 2018 that, if in power, they would introduce a law that would require the landlord to provide evidence that the animal was a nuisance if refused. As far as we can see, this is not something that Boris Johnson will be changing any time soon. 

Landlords should repair properties without increasing the rent 

This is a bit of a grey area . Whilst the law does require the landlord to be responsible for most major repairs to your home if you rent privately, many of our tenants felt that this was too vague and that it did not go far enough. 

Gillian, a tenant, suggested that external agencies should check the state of properties before and during tenancies, holding landlords to account if they fall into disrepair. Again, it was not clear how this would be enforced and who would be overseeing this.

There are plans to extend the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act to force landlords to carry out improvement works to properties or risk being sued. However, we find that many tenants are unsure of their legal rights and are unaware of what their landlord is legally obliged to do to keep their home safe. The solution, therefore, may be better information for tenants as to what the landlord’s legal obligations are, and more accessible ways to challenge this should issues arise.

Better protection of deposits 

Deposits were a popular topic amongst tenants. Many felt that they should be transferred from one tenancy to another, with tribunals deciding on any disputes. Whilst there are plans for the Government to introduce ‘lifetime deposits’, there is a lack of clarification as to how disputes will be resolved and how this will help tenants whose deposits have failed to be protected properly. 

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) have expressed concern stating: 

“If the introduction of a passporting system is to be viable the government must ensure that both the outgoing landlord’s deposit can be used if needed, whilst the incoming landlord has certainty, they will get the full deposit that they have agreed with the tenant.”

More tenants need to know that if their landlord has failed to protect their deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme, they may be owed compensation.

Having read through over fifty suggestions from tenants all over the UK, we can safely say that more needs to be done. Tenants are not being protected enough and do not know their rights. Whilst we do not have any definitive answers as to what needs to be done and how, change needs to happen and we will continue to have these conversations.  

How can TenancyDepositClaims.co.uk help?

These suggestions are all fantastic and we believe there are some really useful points of discussion. However, while we welcome the idea of opening up a discussion, there are still thousands are UK tenants who are being treated poorly by rogue landlords in 2020.  If your landlord has failed to protect your deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme, you may be owed compensation. 

At TenancyDepositClaims.co.uk, 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 in one of the three Government-backed tenancy deposit schemes 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. 

You can get in touch with expert team today by completing our online enquiry form here. Enter your details and we will be sure to get back in touch with you within 48 hours. 

Alternatively, you can call us directly, Monday – Friday, 9am-6:30pm on 0800 464 0014.

tenancy deposit claim

What is a Tenancy Deposit Scheme and how does it work?

This simple guide tells you all you need to know about tenancy deposits and how your landlord should be protecting them. 

The latest figures show that a staggering 4.5 million Brits are renting their home privately, and the trend is growing. It is becoming more important for those who do rent privately to be aware of their rights as tenants. 

Part of these rights include understanding how your tenancy deposit works and the legalities around it. In this short guide, our experts will discuss what a tenancy deposit is, the Government-backed schemes used to protect it, what happens if your landlord doesn’t protect it, and how much a compensation claim can be worth. 

What is a Tenancy Deposit?

When you begin renting your home from a private landlord, you will more often than not be asked to pay your landlord a deposit. It can sometimes be called a security deposit, and it is used to cover potential costs like:

  • Rent arrears
  • Damage to the property 

From 1st June 2019, the law states that the maximum this deposit can be is equal to 5 weeks’ rent. So, to work this out, if your monthly rent is £600:

  • £600 x 12 – To get the yearly rent = £7,200
  • £7,200 ÷ 52 – To get the weekly rent = £138.46
  • £138.46 x 5 – To get the maximum amount of deposit = £692.31

This limit applies to all assured shorthold tenants (AST) and students in halls of residence, as long as the yearly rent is less than £50,000. 

There was no limit on the deposit amount before the law changed on 1st June 2019.

At the end of your tenancy, if all is well with the property and there is no damage or rent to pay, your landlord should give you back your deposit in full. If, however, you owe rent, you have damaged the property, or you have lost or broken some items from the inventory, your landlord may be entitled to take money from your deposit. 

What is a Tenancy Deposit Scheme?

If you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy, your landlord must protect your deposit in one of three Government-backed tenancy deposit schemes. These three schemes are:

The reason for this is so that the tenant is protected against rogue landlords. This way, the landlord cannot use the deposit as income, or simply spend the money. They also have to go through a scheme to raise any deductions at the end of the tenancy, which you are entitled to dispute. 

Your landlord must put your deposit into a scheme within 30 days of receiving the deposit, and tell you exactly where it is being protected. If your landlord uses an agent, the agent is responsible for:

  • protecting the deposit within 14 days
  • giving you specific written information within 28 days

The scheme administrators then hold your tenancy deposit in a special bank account, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, to ensure your money is safe and in case their scheme fails.

At the end of your tenancy, your landlord must then return your deposit to you within 10 days of you both agreeing how much you’ll get back. If, however, you have a dispute with your landlord about the amount you are getting back, the Tenancy Deposit Scheme will hold your deposit until the issue is sorted. This means your money is protected, and rogue landlords cannot simply run away with your deposit. 

What happens if my landlord doesn’t protect my deposit?

If you haven’t received notification from your landlord or agent that your deposit has been protected, in the first instance you might want to check with them in writing. 

If it turns out the deposit has not been protected, you may be entitled to compensation. It is wise to double check it has not been protected by checking with the three Tenancy Deposit Schemes. 

If you challenge your landlord and they concede, you can ask your landlord to 

  • repay the deposit to you
  • pay the deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme’s bank account within 14 days

How can I check if I have a Tenancy Deposit claim?

Luckily, it is relatively easy to check whether you have a claim for compensation.

There are three tenancy deposit protection schemes that are protected by law. Each of these schemes has a platform to check if your deposit has been protected. These platforms for checking are listed here:

If you cannot find your deposit in one of these schemes, it is likely it has not been protected. We would advise getting in touch right away. 

How much can a Tenancy Deposit Compensation claim be worth?

Your landlord is liable for up to three times the amount of the original deposit. This means your compensation claim could be worth anything up to:

Amount of DepositPotential Claim Worth
£100£300
£250£750
£500£1,500
£750£2,250
£1,000£3,000
£1,500£4,500
£2,000£6,000
£3,000£9,000

This amount is supposed to be a deterrent for landlords not protecting your money. The schemes were introduced to help safeguard your deposit and ensure that you get it back at the end of the tenancy. The compensation that you receive if it has not been protected is aimed to reflect this. 

How can Tenancy Deposit Claims help?

Tenancy Deposit Claims are a group of solicitors who endeavour to protect tenants like you and their legal rights. We have a dedicated team who are used to dealing with landlords, day in, day out.

If your landlord hasn’t protected your tenancy deposit, 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. 

If you have been told by your landlord that the deposit is protected but it is not in any of these three schemes, you may have a claim for compensation. You may also have a claim if your landlord has simply failed to tell you where the deposit is protected within 30 days. 

Our team can let you know if you have a claim within a couple of days. 

You can get in touch with our expert team today by completing our online enquiry form here. Enter your details and we will be sure to get back in touch with you within 48 hours. 

Alternatively, you can call us directly, Monday – Friday, 9am-6:30pm on 0800 464 0014.

Source:

Figures for private renters

https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/articles/ukprivaterentedsector/2018

Student tenancy help

Landlords under fire for treating students like “dumb kids”

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. 

Jessica stated:

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. 

You can get in touch with expert team today by completing our online enquiry form here. Enter your details and we will be sure to get back in touch with you within 48 hours. 

Alternatively, you can call us directly, Monday – Friday, 9am-6:30pm on 0800 464 0014.

tenancy deposit claim

Rise in Tenancy Deposit Disputes being settled before adjudication

Good news for tenants up and down the country who are afraid to challenge their landlord, as tenancy deposit disputes are being resolved by agreement without the need to go to a third-party adjudicator.

Figures from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) and its sister organisations, TDS Northern Ireland and SafeDeposits Scotland, show a welcome move towards tenants and landlords resolving tenancy deposit disputes outside of court.

By law, every landlord must protect their tenants’ deposit within a protection scheme. Through these protection schemes, tenants can raise a dispute if they disagree with a possible deduction from their deposit. Agents and landlords can also raise a dispute, and both parties are encouraged to submit evidence to the protection scheme.

TDS’s alternative dispute resolution team have this year introduced an early resolution step which helps both parties reach an amicable settlement, without the need to go through a formal adjudication process. Through their system, both parties can send their proposal and counter proposals, eventually coming to compromise both are happy with.

The dispute resolution may involve several solutions, but the most beneficial for both parties is to get the matter settled without the need of a third-party adjudicator due to costs. It is also preferential for both parties to settle outside of court for the same reason.

The Tenancy Deposit dispute figures

The stats, released by TDS earlier this year, show a sharp rise in cases being settled amicably. Disputes that are resolved before going to adjudication have risen by 31% in England and Wales, 18% in Scotland and 56% in Northern Ireland over the past 12 months.

TDS stated that fewer than 1% of the tenancy deposits it protects in England and Wales end in a dispute.

Of the 17,628 cases between April 2018 and March 2019, 23% were resolved in the pre-adjudication stage. 

Beneficial to both tenant and landlord

Clearly, this development is a step in the right direction for both tenants and landlords who do not wish to be spending their time fighting over a tenancy deposit. As more and more people rent in the UK, it is a welcome move towards a more harmonious relationship between the two parties.

Director of Dispute Operations at TDS, Alison MacDougall, said of the development:

Resolving disputes over tenancy deposits is beneficial for both the tenant and landlord. It’s why we open up a dialogue between parties to secure an amicable and swift agreement.

Disputes can be tense for parties involved in a tenancy, but we find that by facilitating a negotiation, we can help defuse situations and settle disagreements quickly and fairly.  The parties all benefit from keeping control of the decision rather than asking a third party to make a decision for them.

It is also a welcome sign for tenants who wish to bring a dispute against their landlord but fear repercussions. It shows them that disputes can be solved quickly and in a way that is not detrimental to them, as many tenants may fear revenge evictions and similar retaliations.

How can Tenancy Deposit Claims help?

While this is a positive sign for tenants, many landlords are still failing to protect their tenants’ deposit into schemes like the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Without schemes like this, amicable resolution in relation to tenancy deposit disputes may not be possible at all.

By law, under the Housing Act 2004, your landlord is obligated to protect your tenancy deposit into one of three Government approved deposit protection schemes. These schemes are:

If you have been told by your landlord that the deposit is protected but it is not in any of these three schemes, you may have a claim for compensation. You may also have a claim if your landlord has simply failed to tell you where the deposit is protected.

If you are struggling to find out whether your tenancy deposit has been protected, our team of experts are more than happy to assist. We can let you know if you have a claim within a couple of days.

At Tenancy Deposit Claims, we have a dedicated team who are used to dealing with landlords, day in, day out. 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.

Not only this, your landlord is liable for up to three times the amount of the original deposit. This means your compensation claim could be worth anything up to:

Amount of Deposit Potential Claim Worth
£100 £300
£250 £750
£500 £1,500
£750 £2,250
£1,000 £3,000
£1,500 £4,500
£2,000 £6,000
£3,000 £9,000

You can get in touch with expert team today by completing our online enquiry form here. Enter your details and we will be sure to get back in touch with you within 48 hours.

Alternatively, you can call us directly, Monday – Friday, 9am-6:30pm on 0800 464 0014.

Glossary and key bits of info

Adjudication means a decision about a Dispute made by an Adjudicator.

Adjudicator is a person appointed by a tenancy deposit scheme to resolve disputes. “Adjudicator” can include a mediator, arbitrator or other expert appointed to resolve a dispute by means other than litigation (therefore, avoiding court).

ADR means alternative dispute resolution provided by tenancy deposit schemes to facilitate the resolution of disputes as an alternative to court proceedings.

TDS (Tenancy Deposit Scheme) is one of three Government approved tenancy deposit protection scheme in England and Wales. The other two schemes are Deposit Protection Service, and My Deposits. By law, your landlord should have protected your deposit in one of these schemes. If they have not, you may eligible for compensation.

Housing Act 1988 – The Housing Act 1988 covers a large amount of areas and decrees in relation to most of the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. You can read it here.

Housing Act 2004 – This act covers the legal framework for tenancy deposit schemes. These schemes are intended to ensure good practice regarding tenancy deposits. They make dispute resolution relating to deposits easier. You can read it here.

For further information on TDS, please visit: https://www.tenancydepositscheme.com/

For further information on SafeDeposits Scotland, please visit: http://www.safedepositsscotland.com/

For further information on TDS Northern Ireland, please visit: https://www.tdsnorthernireland.com/

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