Landlord disputes have been the scourge of student living for decades. Every year, in every Uni city up and down the land, there are horror stories of landlords ignoring complaints of damp, mould, leaking roofs and broken boilers. And when it comes to the end of your tenancy agreement the arguments can really escalate. If you’re headed for a landlord tug of war at the end of your tenancy, the tenancy deposit scheme could be your blessing in disguise – if you know how it works and how to make the most of it.
Know your rights
A new law was passed in 2007 that means your tenancy deposit should now be kept in a Government-backed tenancy deposit scheme. Landlords must, by law, provide the name and contact details of your tenancy deposit scheme, and any information on its dispute resolution service, within 30 days of taking your deposit. Unfortunately, not all landlords do this, even to this day.
If you’re not sure your landlord is using the scheme you can contact one of the following:
»Deposit Protection Service – 0330 303 0030
»MyDeposits – 0844 980 0290
»Tenancy Deposit Scheme – 0845 226 7837
If you find out they haven’t used the scheme, you should get some legal advice.
Getting your deposit back
By rights you should get your deposit back so long as you pay your rent and bills on time, don’t damage the property and meet any other terms in your tenancy agreement. If that all stacks up and you’re all in agreement everything is fine, your landlord should return your deposit from the scheme within 10 days.
Ok. This is where the fun starts. If there’s a dispute, your deposit will be held in the government tenancy deposit scheme until it’s sorted. You may want to start by negotiating directly with your landlord to reach an agreement. This could be the cheapest, quickest and easiest way to find a resolution. Then again, maybe not…
If you’re having trouble discussing the issues reasonably with your landlord, your tenancy deposit scheme will offer a free dispute resolution service. They can decide how much deposit you should get back. If you want to use that to help resolve the issue (and you don’t have to) then both you and your landlord will have to agree to using it. Any decision is final.
Alternatively, and it really is a last resort for most people given the cost and complexity it often creates, is to talk to a solicitor.