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Legal Tenancy Deposits Tenants

Are you serious?

According to a report published today, new research carried out among more than 2,000 UK adults by SPCE has revealed the challenges faced by Generation Rent when attempting to claim back their deposit. The report found that 16% of UK renters claim their landlord or lettings agent has unfairly taken money from their tenancy deposit, with the figure rising to 25% for millennials (18-34) and 30% among university students  – to read the full report, click this link Read More

Basically, SPCE, who are mobile app designed to allow students to search and pay for university specific, student rental properties, without the use of a letting agent, have come up with some questionable research into Landlords withholding tenancy deposits.

16% of UK renters claim their landlord or lettings agent have unfairly taken money from their tenancy deposit, with the figure rising to 25% for millennials (18-34) and 30% among university students.

Oh really! Well, if that statistic was true, those Landlords and Letting Agents would be committing a criminal offence! If there is one thing which a Landlord or Letting Agent cannot do, it is to deduct even a single penny from a protected deposit without full disclosure and the approval of the Tenant.  Where money has been deducted, you have to assume that the Landlord or Letting Agent has won their case against the tenant.  As any Landlord or Letting Agent knows, as should SPCE for that matter, it is impossible to retain any part of a Tenancy Deposit without the full agreement of the Tenant, so exactly how have all these people managed to have money taken from them so unfairly?  It’s highly likely that had SPCE asked this particular selective audience if they thought that paying rent was unfair, the answer would have been a resounding “yes”, so let’s not read too much into this part of the ‘survey”!.

When delving into the reasons why, the research found a significant proportion of Generation Rent were losing out on some, if not all, of their deposits due to circumstances beyond their control. One in eight (13%) tenants admitted losing money through a tenancy deposit due to damage that was done to the property by one of their fellow housemates, while 14% reported losing their deposit due to problems with the property that existed before they had moved into the house or flat.

For those tenants who feel so badly done to because they “lost money” through no fault of their own, due in the fist instance to damage caused by their housemates, I suggest that they take a good long look at their tenancy agreement, the one which they agreed to when they signed it!. Like most contracts where there is a shared responsibility, it will be written as “jointly and severally liable”. This is written to protect the Landlord, not the tenant!  Could you imagine a situation where the Landlord was not protected with such a contractual clause?  “it wasn’t me, it was him, no, it wasn’t me, it was her, I saw her do it, no it wasn’t, yes it was…”  You get my point, what protection does the Landlord have without every signature to the tenancy being equally responsible for the terms of that tenancy? exactly none!  And then we have the situation with deposit money being taken because of problems that existed before the tenants had moved in. If that was the case, why didn’t the tenants report the damage to the Landlord when they found it ?  Why would anybody (let alone intelligent people) agree to release their all important and much needed deposit funds if they didn’t cause the problem in the first place, they wouldn’t would they ?  This part of the “survey” simply confirms once again that if tenants have had money deducted from their deposit, the landlord has won the case!  I re-state my earlier point, a Landlord or Agent cannot take any money from a deposit without the full approval and agreement of the tenant(s) – that is the law.

SPCE’s survey revealed that one in five (19%) UK renters have lost money from a tenancy deposit due to damages being incurred to the property during their time living in it, with this figure rising to 28% for millennials, and doubling to two in five (40%) for UK students.

This survey is reporting that UK renters have “lost money from a tenancy deposit”.  These renters have not lost money, they have paid for the damage (or rent arrears or other) to the Landlord.  That is  what a deposit is for and that is their legal responsibility under the terms of the tenancy, a contract they agreed to and freely entered into. If they had not paid for the damage, it would have been the Landlord who would have “lost money,” but with todays renters, that seems to be ok!   As a Landlord with years and years of experience in the rental market, there is absolutely no surprise to me in the statistics quoted here, if anything, I’m shocked that the 40% figure for students is so low!  Which leads me to believe that this survey may not be that accurate after all!

The survey also states that there isn’t sufficient information out there for those wishing to challenge their Landlord or Agent over the deposits – really!

More should be done to increase awareness of the frameworks in place for those seeking to challenge unfair attempts to take money from a tenancy deposit

What more can be done? When the deposit is taken from the tenant, the tenant must be provided with the details of the scheme, the account reference number, contact information and a an important document which is known as the “Prescribed Information”. This details what the tenant needs to know about the scheme and how it works and what the tenant needs to do if they dispute a claim against their deposit. And then there’s the huge amount of information available on the internet on just how to deal with a claim against a deposit. Are SPCE saying that 40% of students and 28% of millennials cannot read the material provided to them in the first place, or do not have the gumption to do a Google search to find out how to challenge a claim against their deposit?

In our opinion, what this survey is actually saying is that Landlords and Letting Agents are ripping off renters and stealing their deposits!  Despite that there is no evidence that money has been taken without consent and despite the fact that taking money from deposits without the tenants consent is impossible to do, as anyone who has dealt with any of the deposit schemes will know. Even if it was possible (which we know it isn’t) doing so would be a criminal offence!  And if you think about it, if what is said in this ‘survey” is indeed true, it then brings the Tenancy Deposit Schemes into disrepute!  Why would anybody trust them if they simply handed out money to landlords “unfairly”?

We’re seriously considering running a OneLandlord Survey to find out the size of the losses and the financial right-offs which landlords have to make because of how deposit schemes work in favour of the tenant and not in favour of the landlord – so please watch this SPCE!

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