Following the end of the tenancy and the tenant, Miss J, not receiving her deposit monies, she complained that Agent had failed to keep her informed about which protection scheme the deposit was registered with; that the Agent had not advised her how to dispute the landlord’s claims on the deposit and that the Agent had transferred the deposit to the landlord without her agreement. In addition, Miss J pointed out that despite requesting the same, the Agent had failed to provide her with the name and contact address of the landlord within the required timescale.
Whilst the Agent claimed to have informed Miss J of the change in deposit schemes during the tenancy, they were unable to substantiate their claims. There was no information which indicated that they had ever informed Miss J about her deposit being re-registered with another tenancy deposit scheme, provided her with any rules about the new scheme, or provided a new deposit registration certificate. It was also apparent that the Agent took steps, without consulting Miss J, to contact the deposit scheme to unprotect the deposit and failed to inform her that she had ninety days in which to contest the deductions, which meant that the deposit was forfeit in its entirety to the landlord. Finally, it was clear that contrary to the requirements of Paragraph 8d of the TPO Code of Practice, the Agent had failed to provide Miss J with the landlord’s name and contact details within the required 21 day timescale.
In this case, the Agents actions were not only unfair towards Miss J, they breached the requirements of Paragraphs 8p, 12d and 14a of the TPO Code of Practice, depriving Miss J of the opportunity to have her dispute with the landlord independently adjudicated on by the deposit scheme. I, therefore, supported the complaint and mindful of the fact that Miss J was still in negotiations directly with the landlord over the deposit monies, made an award of £300.
Put simply the security deposit monies are the tenant’s monies until such times as they are deemed otherwise. If a tenant does not agree to a landlord’s proposed deductions, the tenancy deposit scheme provides the mechanism for the dispute to be resolved. It is simply not acceptable to fail to provide a tenant with the prescribed information required to allow them to instigate the deposit scheme process.