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Success of The Tenancy Deposit Scheme

publication date: Dec 17, 2007
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Figures published in an autumn News Bulletin circulated to all members of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, TDS, give the first rounded picture of the scale of the Scheme’s success during the first six months since deposit protection became a legal requirement in the Private Rented Sector.

These figures underline the position of parent organisation The Dispute Service as the premier independent dispute resolution and redress organisation in the private rented sector. The Tenancy Deposit Scheme, one of the three schemes authorised by the government, now safeguards over £283 million in tenants’ deposits. There are 217,134 landlords joined to the scheme, covering 282,364 tenancies that house 428,769 tenants. The average deposit covered by the Scheme is over £1,200. This amount is well over the average suggested in many published statistics.

The TDS News Bulletin shows that the volume of disputes is rising and the first disputes under the new statutory requirements are beginning to appear. More than half of all disputes include disagreements over cleaning premises at the end of a tenancy. Nearly half involve damage while other dispute favourites include rent arrears and gardening. Overall, the scheme finds equally in favour of landlords and tenants. The autumn News Bulletin is the first issue to be published since deposit protection became mandatory and it shows the success of the Scheme in coping with the flood of a totally unpredictable number of enquires. At its height, during April, the numbers peaked at over 3,000 calls a week. This has now settled at an average level of 800 calls a week.

The Bulletin shows membership of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme running at some 5,350 branches, belonging to some 3,500 lettings firms. 80% of these firms are regulated by membership of their professional bodies, while most of the rest are either unregulated or belong to other industry organisations. There are also a number of corporate landlords, some of them particularly active in the student sector of the lettings market.

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is operated by The Dispute Service, a not for profit organisation, set up in 2004 by the three professional bodies active in the private rented sector, ARLA, the NAEA and RICS. This was in anticipation of the implementation of tenancy deposit protection under the Housing Act 2004.

Commented Lawrence Greenberg, Chief Executive of The Dispute Service, “These figures from our Tenancy Deposit Scheme and the services for independent redress underline our position as the premier dispute service for the Private Rented Sector.”

Ignorance is no excuse

Dean Sanderson of the Sanderson James estate agency and Chair of the NAEA in the North West says ignorance should be no excuse for irresponsible landlords and buy to let investors.

“Being a landlord is no longer as easy as used to be.” said Dean Sanderson. “The increase in the number of amateur landlords prompted the government to introduce a raft of new legislation designed to protect the health and safety of tenants but also to protect landlords from the various disasters that can occur when you get a bad tenant.

“The increase in problems and complaints has seen our own business double as we face increasing numbers of both tenants and landlords who come to us to sort out problems and ask for advice. This area is a legal minefield and not many people appreciate the problems they can face.”

The tenancy deposit scheme has been introduced to ensure that both parties don’t lose out financially and the scheme acts as an independent third party that will resolve financial disputes.

“The scheme has been much publicised and what landlords may not realise is that if they are not protecting a tenant’s deposit they could be ordered to repay three times the amount to the tenant and so it is vitally important to register.”

Indeed this has now happened – see our legal section for a report of one landlord who fell foul of the new HMO licensing laws and related deposit penalties.