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Protection for tenants’ deposits aims to stop ‘rip-offs’

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06/03/2007

A new scheme to protect private tenants’ deposits, due to be introduced by the Government on 6th April, aims to ensure that rip-offs by unscrupulous landlords are ended.

The average value of a deposit paid by tenants to cover missed rent, unpaid bills or damages is over £695 – a substantial UK investment for many people – and there are many cases where this sum is unfairly withheld from people at the end of their tenancy.

Every deposit taken by landlords of assured shorthold tenancies will, under the new rules, have to be secured with one of three schemes, under the Housing Act 2004.

One scheme will hold the deposits directly; the other two will provide insurance cover if a landlord defaults.

If the deposit has not been protected in the approved way under the new rules, a landlord loses their right to evict assured shorthold tenants with only two months’ notice once the standard six-month tenancy period has finished.

“This is a good idea as me and some friends were ripped off by our landlord refusing to return our deposit,” says London tenant Catherine Jackson. “In the end we gave up – which is annoying as that money was rightfully ours and I needed it for saving and investment purposes.”

Jackson was not alone. Housing charity Shelter reported that 75% of tenants who had deposits withheld last year felt they had been treated unfairly and deprived of their saving and investment in the property.

Shelter chief executive Adam Sampson said: “Shelter helps thousands of people each year with deposit problems and has campaigned for many years to get tenancy deposit protection introduced.”

 

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