New laws come into effect from April 2007 with effect to tenants’ cash deposits in England that are held against new AST’s, Assured Shorthold Tenancies.
Any new Assured Shorthold Tenancy commencing after April 2007 must now be covered by the Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, TDP, of which there will be two kinds. It will be mandatory for all landlords and letting agents to be a member of one scheme or the other.
The British government has awarded contracts to three organisations to operate these schemes. Computershare Investor Services PLC will run the single custodial deposit scheme, while the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators will provide the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service.
This will be a free service for landlords and tenants alike and the whole operation will be paid for by the surplus cash accrued on the pool of deposits held. It is also likely that interest will be paid to the tenants, something that has never happened in the past.
The Dispute Service Limited will offer an insurance-based service aimed primarily at letting agencies. It is being backed by the professional bodies, ARLA, NAEA, and RICS, all of whom will provide further information about these new services.
The holding of cash deposits by agents and landlords has long been a source of difficulty between tenants and their landlords. The majority of landlords have been fair and reasonable when it came to returning deposits at the end of tenancies, but some looked on the deposits as an easy source of additional income and always made claims, no matter how outlandish, against this security money.
As far as letting agents are concerned, although they will miss the interest gained on these monies, in the past they always kept that for themselves, they certainly will not miss the inevitable disputes that all too often arose between the two parties. For the letting agents it was a lose/lose situation.
No tenant was ever happy having money stopped to put dilapidation claims right, no matter how justified it was, while some landlords would put pressure on the agents to make claims and deductions, and ultimately make additional payments to landlords. Often the agent would end up with two very unhappy clients through none of his or her doing.
No doubt the new schemes will have teething problems, no doubt it will take time to settle down, they do seem quite complicated and one wonders why a single overall scheme could not have been agreed upon, but in the longer term, it is likely the new arrangements will be welcomed by tenants, rental agents and landlords alike, because it will for the first time introduce laid down procedures for settling disputes.
David Carter's property book SPLAM! Successful Property Letting And Management is available in hardcopy or by download. His new novel: “The Fish Catcher" is also out now. “The Fish Catcher" tells the story of a group of children evacuated from London during World War II to escape the Blitz bombing. It is a novel for adults and older children. You can find details of both these books and read extracts on his website right now at http://www.davidcarter.eu You can also contact David on any matter at firstname.lastname@example.org