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E-petition lodged calling for tighter tenant deposit protection

September 13, 2011
A solicitor has lodged an e-petition urging the government to strengthen the law protecting residential rent deposits paid by tenants to landlords.

Tenancy deposit protection legislation, introduced by the Housing Act 2004, was designed to protect tenants against unscrupulous landlords who refused to return deposits at the end of a tenancy.

The law requires landlords to put the deposit into an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme within 14 days of receiving it, or pay a fine equal to three times the deposit. The scheme then acts as an independent mediator between landlord and tenant if a dispute arises over the refunding of the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

As a further protection, the law also requires landlords to provide proof to the court that they have complied with tenancy deposit protection requirements before a possession order is granted.

Simon Raymond, sole principal of London firm Raymond Co, posted the e-petition in response to concerns that the courts have allowed the tenancy deposit protection legislation to become toothless and open to abuse by dishonest landlords.

He said: Recent court judgments have held that so long as the landlord protects the deposit and gives the prescribed information by the time of any court hearing, he will not be liable for the fine and can obtain a possession order.

Raymond said the tenancy deposit protection legislation should be made clearer, so that courts will be forced to apply it properly.

Landlords are disregarding the law and the government should now pass an amendment to what is increasingly toothless legislation so that it begins to protect the interests of tenants, he said.

Norwich sole practitioner Tessa Shepperson, founder of Landlord-Law Online, said: Tenancy deposit protection is a confusing piece of legislation that needs reviewing. The danger is that tenants will be forced to go to court to make landlords comply, which is an expensive, risky and terrifying route to follow.

The petition can be found on the e-petition site.
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