In this week’s #ExpertView, John King, Director of Customer Service provides new and returning students with a quick guide to the world of tenancy deposits.
As students across the country are moving in to new flats and houses, the excitement of returning to college or university can mean that some practical considerations, like tenancy deposits, can fall by the wayside.
However, students (and family members who may supply tenancy deposits) should make sure they understand their rights and responsibilities to ensure their tenancy deposits are properly protected, so they can obtain the agreed amount once the tenancy has ended.
Here at TDS (Tenancy Deposit Scheme), we receive lots of enquiries from tenants at University, along with their family members, at this time of year, so we have answered some key questions to help.
What is a tenancy deposit?
A tenancy deposit is an amount of money that you pay to your landlord or letting agent as a protection to cover any rental arrears or damage to the property or its content at the end of the tenancy.
The amount of the tenancy deposit will be agreed and paid before the contract starts and is usually equal to four to six weeks’ rent. In some circumstances, additional deposits may be requested if, for example, pets are included in your tenancy to cover any additional damage caused by the pet.
Your landlord should confirm what the deposit covers and this is normally set out in your tenancy agreement. The tenancy agreement should also include a list of your responsibilities as a tenant. If these responsibilities are not followed, the landlord may be able to keep part or all of your tenancy deposit.
What does the landlord do with the tenancy deposit?
Your landlord will be responsible for protecting your tenancy deposit with a government-approved scheme within 30 days of you paying your deposit.
You will know that your tenancy deposit has been protected because you will be issued with prescribed information that outlines the details of where your deposit has been protected.
If you don’t receive the prescribed information, you should request it from your landlord or letting agent in the first instance, but you can also check directly with TDS if your tenancy deposit has been protected with us by using our online checker tool.
If my flatmates damage their room, will I have to pay?
The answer to this question depends on whether you sign a joint assured shorthold tenancy agreement for the property as a whole, or if each of the tenants signs separate assured shorthold tenancy agreements on a room-by-room basis. You should contact your landlord or letting agent to establish which of these options is relevant to your tenancy.
If it’s a joint tenancy agreement, tenants contribute to one, shared tenancy deposit. As this deposit covers the tenancy as a whole, all parties are equally liable for any rental arrears or damage to the property, even if the damage has only taken place in one person’s room, or if one person has fallen behind on rent.
If the property is rented on a room-by-room basis and you have signed individual tenancy agreements for each room, you’ll only be liable for that room and the shared rooms, such as the kitchen or bathroom. This means that you will only be responsible for paying your own rent and maintaining your own personal space which should be outlined in your tenancy agreement.
How do I get my tenancy deposit back?
Your landlord or letting agent should return your tenancy deposit to you within 10 days of the tenancy ending if they are satisfied that the property has been returned in a clean, undamaged state as required in the tenancy agreement.
However, if there are dilapidations in the condition of the property, the landlord or letting agent may wish to make deductions from the tenancy deposit. Tenants can then either accept the deductions or challenge them through TDS’ free, online alternative dispute resolution (ADR) service. In that case, both the landlord/letting agent and the tenant can provide evidence to support their claim on the deposit. You can find out more about this service in our blog post on tenant claims.
The world of tenancies and deposits can – at times – be confusing, especially for those renting for the first time. For further guidance, you can contact our award-winning operations teams on 0300 037 1000 or through our online contact form.
About the author
John is a former practitioner in the lettings industry with over 25 years’ experience with a keen understanding of the Private Rental Sector. In addition to his work in estate agency, John has worked within tenancy deposit protection since 2009 starting in the adjudication team before moving into customer services and has recently moved from Deputy Director to Director in our key customer facing team.
John has presented training seminars, forums and industry events and has been involved in the successful TDS Academy training programme offered throughout England and Wales and operates a team of customer service advisors to assist with customer enquiries.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) is a government-approved scheme for the protection of tenancy deposits; TDS offers both Insured and Custodial protection and also provides fair adjudication for disputes that arise over the tenancy deposits that we protect.
We provide invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and disputes for agents and landlords through the TDS Academy as well as joining with MOL to provide the Technical Award in Residential Tenancy Deposits.
TDS Insured Scheme: where a TDS member can hold the tenancy deposits as stakeholder during the term of the tenancy.
TDS Custodial Scheme: where TDS hold the deposit for the duration of the tenancy.
TDS Academy: TDS provides property professionals with invaluable training in tenancy deposit protection and tenancy deposit disputes.
TDS can only comment on the process for our scheme, other deposit protection schemes may have a different process/require different steps. Content is correct at the time of writing.
These views are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of TDS, its officers and employees.