Most landlords take a deposit from their tenant to safeguard against potential breaches of the tenancy agreement (such as failure to pay rent or damage to the property).
If you ask a tenant with an assured shorthold tenancy to pay a tenancy deposit you will need to protect the deposit through a government-backed protection scheme. This applies to all assured shorthold tenancies that started, or were renewed, on or after April 6, 2007.
By protecting the deposit you are making sure that your tenant gets their money back – unless you need to deduct any money because they haven’t met the terms of their tenancy agreement.
How should I protect a tenancy deposit?
You (or any agent acting on your behalf) must put a deposit in an approved scheme within 30 days of receiving it.
You must use one of the three government approved tenancy deposit schemes. If you use any other scheme, the deposit is not protected in law.
The three approved schemes are:
If the deposit isn’t protected through one of the approved schemes the tenant could choose to take you to county court. You could be ordered to repay the deposit to the tenant, or to pay it into an approved scheme within 14 days.
Do I need to do anything after protecting the deposit?
Yes, when you (or any agent acting on your behalf) protect a deposit you need to provide certain details to the tenant, these are referred to as ‘prescribed information’.
This information should be provided to the tenant within 30 days of the deposit being paid and should include:
- your contact details (or letting agent contact details)
- contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme you are using
- items or services covered by the deposit
- the circumstances under which you will be able to retain some or all of the deposit
- how the tenant can apply to get the deposit back at the end of their tenancy
- what the tenant can do if there is a dispute about the deposit
You should also provide a signed copy of the deposit protection certificate to the tenant.
The tenant should be given an opportunity to check and sign the document containing the prescribed information, to confirm that its contents are correct.
The regulations mean that the majority of deposits for new assured shorthold tenancies should be protected, however there are some exceptions.
You are not required to register a deposit with one the protection schemes if:
- you are a resident landlord
- the tenancy has a rental value of over £100,000 a year
- you are letting out the property through company lets
- the property is student accommodation let directly by a university or college