Immigration Act 2014

Did you know the Immigration Act 2014 introduces new restrictions that will apply to private residential rental agreements?  

Since 1st December 2014, in large parts of the West Midlands it’s now against the law to rent accommodation to a person who is disqualified by their unlawful immigration status. Those who fail to comply with the law may be liable to a civil penalty of up to £3,000 for each tenant. This legislation applies to landlords, letting agents who act on behalf of landlords, tenants who sublet accommodation and individuals who accommodate lodgers in their own homes in return for rent.  

The new restrictions are being introduced on a phased basis, starting with the local authority areas of Birmingham City Council, Wolverhampton City Council, and the metropolitan borough councils of Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall. Landlords, letting agents and tenants in these areas need to know their obligations and start performing the checks.  

The checks are modelled on the ‘right to work’ checks employers have performed for many years. In most cases, the checks will involve a face value examination of documents such as a passport, a permanent residence card or a biometric immigration document. You’ll need to keep copies of the documentation as evidence the checks have been carried out and retain them for one year after the tenancy ends.

In cases where the documents aren’t available, you can find out if a potential tenant has the right to live in the UK using an online checker. To help you comply with the legislation, you can use a simple online toolkit or call the dedicated landlord helpline on 0300 069 9799.

You can also obtain more information about the act and your obligations via the following links:

More information about landlord 'right to rent' checks

Check your postcode to see if your rental property is affected

 

Listen to our Deposit Protection webinar with Landlord Law Live

At 12.30pm on Friday 10 October 2014, I’ll be participating in a half hour webinar with Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law Online. We’ll be discussing some of the potential issues that face landlords, letting agents and tenants, including how the custodial scheme treats shared properties, and the requirements that agents and landlords must meet when protecting deposits in both our custodial and insured services.

Back when Landlord Law Live launched in 2011, I was interviewed for the very first podcast, and I’m pleased to have the chance to update listeners on today’s Tenancy Deposit Protection market.

You can attend the webinar and put your questions to me by visiting Landlord Law Live to register your place.  I hope you can join us for what promises to be an informative half an hour about deposit protection.

Thanks for reading (and listening!)

Kevin

The DPS brand refresh

Over the past year we have been working on some exciting projects to develop our business. Our branding hasn’t changed much in recent years, so we thought it was about time we gave ourselves a facelift. We’ve developed our brand with you, our customers in mind.

We felt that the brand refresh was important for both our business which is constantly evolving and for you. 

So, what’s changed so far?

Updates to our brand include…
› A new logo
› We are now – ‘The home of deposit protection
› A new look and feel for our emails and leaflets
› All of our documents are more user-friendly – why not take a look at one of our documents, the Year in Review and see for yourself.
› Our new and improved website – head over to www.depositprotection.com and take a look.

We will be making more changes over the next year to our website, which we will keep you in the loop about when they happen.

We hope that you like our new fresh look and feel. We will update you again over the coming months with any more changes that we make.

Our Insured scheme is different…

Did you know we are the only tenancy deposit protection provider that protects the deposit for the lifetime of the tenancy?

You can be assured that tenancy deposits are safe with us. Our Insured scheme protects the deposit no matter what happens.

Did you know we are the only tenancy deposit scheme to solely work with regulated agents?

This means that all of our agents have client money protection insurance giving their landlords guarantee that their rent will be covered if something were to happen to the agent. With us guaranteeing the deposit, it is the perfect combination. If you’d like to know more about the fees we charge, take a look at our prices. Further discounts are available for volume.  

Our Insured scheme – what you need to know

›    No registration or annual renewal fees
›    Available to landlords and organisations on a 'pay as you go' per tenancy basis
›    Letting agents will be required to be associated with, members of, or accredited by RICS, ARLA, NAEA, NALS, UKALA or The Law Society. They will be required to agree to monthly invoicing paid by direct debit.

Insured or Custodial – the differences between the two schemes

If a deposit is protected through our Custodial scheme, the landlord or letting agent submits the deposit to us and we look after it for the duration of the tenancy. We don’t charge fees for this service.

To protect a tenancy deposit with our Insured scheme, the landlord or letting agent pays us a fee and keeps the money in their own bank account. 

For more information, please visit www.depositprotection.com 

Enhancements to your online account

Following your feedback, we have made an enhancement to make your life easier.

Your online account has been updated so that we automatically populate the prescribed information for you. Just select the ‘Print Prescribed Information’ link on the ‘Payment’ page, once you have completed the ‘Submit a new deposit’ process, and the information will be pre-populated. You then just need to add the information we don’t have and you can print off the form to send to your tenant. Alternatively, you can copy this into your own template.

Don't forget! You will still need to attach a copy of the Custodial Terms and Conditions when issuing the Prescribed Information to your tenant.

Visit our website and log in to your account to get started today.

The DPS Charity Donations Fund – Donations announced!

Earlier this year we launched the DPS Charity Donations Fund. We wanted to give something back to the communities we work in, so every three months up to £20,000 is available to charities working in the housing sector.

I’m delighted to announce that the first donations from our charity donations fund have been chosen. The successful applicants are the 700 Club , based in Darlington; The Sanctuary Trust, located in Rochdale; and The Homesavers Charity, which operates from West Kirby, in the Wirral.

The 700 Club, which helps homeless people achieve independence in safe, sustainable accommodation has received £7,500. CEO John Elliston said “The grant from The DPS will be used to enhance the Bond Deposit Scheme, extending the service it offers to the most chaotic and difficult clients who would usually be excluded from the private rented sector.”

700 Club

£5,000 has gone to The Sanctuary Trust, a charity working with homelessness and complex homeless related issues.  “Following recent austerity-related cuts in funding, the donation from The DPS will allow us to continue our personal development programmes which would otherwise have ceased operation” said David Lackner-Smith, CEO.

Sanctuary Trust

We have also donated £7,500 to The Homesavers Charity, which provides tenancy deposits to the homeless, people in danger of becoming homeless, and those on low incomes. Laura Mahon, Charity Secretary, said “We’re delighted that this donation will help provide up to 20 tenancy deposits for individuals and families in housing need, enabling them to obtain a tenancy through the private rental sector.”

Thank you to Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive of NALS, who helped us with the difficult task of choosing the beneficiaries from the applications we received.

We’re currently accepting applications for the second fund donations. If you know of any charity that could benefit from a donation, particularly those who directly improve the provision of housing, the application form is available on our website.

Kevin

Dates for your diary

The DPS team have been busy putting together our events calendar for 2014 and I’m delighted to announce a series of dates for your diary. We’re exhibiting at five Landlord and Letting Show events this year – details of which are below.

The free seminars are always worth a look and the networking opportunities never fail to make it worth going. If you’re attending, why not take a visit to our stand? We’d love to see you and have got a £100 voucher up for grabs in our free prize draw.

Here is a reminder of the venues and dates:

Wednesday 14th & Thursday 15th May - Reebok Stadium, Bolton
Wednesday 2nd & Thursday 3rd July - City Hall, Cardiff
Wednesday 10th & Thursday 11th September - The Barbican, London
Wednesday 22nd & Thursday 23rd October - Gateshead International Stadium, Gateshead
Wednesday 26th & Thursday 27th November - Stoneleigh Park, Coventry

From May, our ever popular dispute resolution workshops also return for 2014. Alexandra, our Head of Adjudication, will be lifting the lid on how disputes are resolved when landlords and tenants can’t agree about the return of the deposit at the end of a tenancy. We get great feedback from these events and this year, we are offering more sessions than ever!

There’s nine dates and locations to choose from. Check out www.depositprotection.com/events for more details.

The dates of the Dispute Resolution Workshops are as follows:

Thursday 8th May – 09.30-12.30 & 14.30-17.30 - London
Tuesday 20th May – 09.30-12.30 & 14.30-17.30 - Manchester
Thursday 22nd May - 09.30-12.30 & 14.30-17.30 - Liverpool
Thursday 5th June – 09.30-12.30 & 14.30-17.30 - Bristol
Tuesday 10th June – 09.30-12.30 & 14.30-17.30 - Bournemouth
Thursday 4th September – 09.30-12.30 & 14.30-17.30 - Newcastle
Wednesday 1st October – 09.30-12.30 & 14.30-17.30 - Birmingham
Thursday 30th October – 09.30-12.30 & 14.30-17.30 - Nottingham
Tuesday 11th November – 09.30-12.30 & 14.30-17.30 - Brighton

 

Keeping it local

From today, you'll be able to contact The DPS using our new standard rate telephone number, 0330 303 0030.

Following feedback from our customers, we know that many of you get in touch via mobile. Our new 033 number is inclusive in most landline and mobile minute bundles, so you can now use these to contact us!

For other ways to contact us, view our Help for Tenants and Help for Landlords and Letting Agents pages.

 

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Calling all housing charities!

I’m very excited to announce that we have just launched our new charitable initiative, The DPS Charity Donations Fund.

The fund will be used to help support registered charities within the housing sector, such as those which help directly improve the provision of housing and those especially focused on the private rented sector.

At The DPS we are passionate about giving back to the people and communities in which we work, and recently several of the team volunteered at Caring at Christmas, a Bristol-based charity which offers accommodation to the homeless over the festive period. Helping out during Christmas really hit home how projects such as this desperately need funding, and really confirmed to us the long-term difference which our charity fund will make.

We will be awarding a total of  £80,000 a year, up to £20,000 each quarter. Charities will be chosen by a committee made up of myself, three members of The DPS Team and Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive of the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS). We will meet every three months to compare applications and make a decision based on the aims of the charity as well as the project which requires funding.

This is the result of months of hard work from all the team and something we’re all proud to have helped achieve,

I will keep you informed of the charities that we help throughout the year.

Kevin

Charities that meet the application criteria can apply by downloading a simple form from The DPS’ website, where the deadlines and terms and conditions are also provided.

Why do I have to wait so long for my money?

By The DPS director Kevin Firth

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We sometimes get queries about how long it can take for repayments to go through the system.

Let’s take normal repayments for a start. The law says we must release money within 10 calendar days of an authorised claim.

We release all deposits within two business days once we have a jointly authorised claim. However, once a deposit has been released from our system we can’t guarantee how long the banking system will clear money into your account - so we always say to allow a further two or three days.

We take on thousands of new tenancy deposits each day, and have repaid over £1billion. Holding onto your deposit for a few extra days doesn’t make any difference to us and it’s not something we will ever do.  The system is fully automated in that once the claim has been authenticated the payment is released.

Delays to the payment process are invariably caused by one party not responding to the other party’s claim.  Whist we will send reminders we have no control over these delays and can only release the deposit with agreement from both parties.

Single claim

Where delays tend to affect landlords more is the single claim process which, again, is a legislative process that we have to follow.

The single claim process can be used where either tenant or landlord is un-contactable or is unwilling to co-operate in the joint repayment process.

A guide to making a single claim is here, but in brief: it means getting a document called a Statutory Declaration completed and witnessed by a relevant officer.

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At the absolute least the process can take over two weeks. If there’s a disagreement we’re into a formal dispute process which can take a lot longer.

The Single Claim process is governed by statute – we did not create it and we have no power to circumvent it. Although we administer the scheme, it’s for landlords and tenants to see their part of the process through.

I’ll go as far to say that I am not a fan of the single claim process.

It’s better than using the courts, but not as good as it should be. In Scotland, either party has 30 working days to respond to a repayment claim. If that does not happen, the landlord gets what he has asked for or if it’s a tenant they get the entire deposit. It’s simple and fair, and I would like to see that system adopted here.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to operate within the framework we’ve been given, and I encourage you all to read our advice on single claims and Statutory Declarations in particular to understand how it all works before you get started.

Thanks for reading

Kevin

 

What happens when the boss mans the phones?

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By The DPS customer services representative Richard Pullen

Last month I was chosen to be our director Kevin Firth’s “boss for a day,” while he sat at my desk and took calls to the DPS.

It was my job to listen in and make exaggerated hand movements when he was about to say something wrong!

Kevin was raising money for a £20,000 charity appeal he is championing across the company, and his stint on the phones was part of that.

A side-effect was that it brought Kevin closer to some of the issues you (the caller) and we (the operations team) face every day. Hopefully it shed some light into the customer experience.

Common issues

The majority of queries were pretty bread-and-butter. “How do I get my money?”, “What’s a repayment ID?” and “How do I use the ADR service?”

What did become clear, I think, are the little obstacles which can sometimes get in the way.

Listening: Kevin Firth

Listening: Kevin Firth

For instance, when we ask a caller security questions our procedures prevent us from accepting answers where we can hear someone in the background prompting the caller.

If this happens we warn the caller and ask additional security questions. If they continue to confer we must end the call.

I got the impression this concerned Kevin, and he appreciated this can be a source of irritation where it was clear we are talking to the right person.

He’s looking into this further to ensure we can be as helpful as possible whilst keeping our security procedures robust, and without breaching our legal and compliance obligations.

On your side

Also, we have to ensure we don’t give legal advice since we’re not lawyers and the last thing we want to do is give out the wrong information.

But there are some areas of procedure and law which are essentially set in stone. I think Kevin felt there was perhaps more we can do in terms of offering a little more help on some of the more factual questions we are often asked.

We – on this end of the phone – always want to help you as quickly as we can, and give the information which would benefit you the most.

As time goes on that will improve and I think Kevin’s time with us will speed that up a bit.

And I only had to pull the plug on him twice!

Richard

We’re open this Saturday!

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On Saturday, August 31, we’re running a trial weekend call service.

We want to know if it’s more convenient for you, so we've arranged to open the lines from 9am to midday.

T: 0844 4727 000 

It’s a one-off – but if it proves popular and productive then we’ll see if we can make it business as usual.

Let us know if you use the service and why not tweet your thoughts to @The_DPS?

Kevin Firth, Director

The Deposit Protection Service

 

We do not spam. Stay informed.

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WE know how irritating spam emails are. We do not send junk email.

So when we do email it’s because there’s a specific and good reason. Most often it’s because we've been asked for something like an ID reminder. Occasionally we need to tell you about service updates or give security advice.

Sometimes these emails can be mistaken for junk by email providers. Make sure you get the information you need by adding us to your “Safe Senders” list. Some details on that are below.

It’s important you see our emails, and they don’t just end up in Junk. When that happens it’s frustrating for you. From this end we can’t see it’s occurred, and that you haven’t received the information you need.

What to do

The best thing you could do is add our domain address @depositprotection.co.uk to your “safe senders” list. Each provider has its own process for adding to Safe Senders.

Some providers – BT and Yahoo for example – require you to set up a “Filter” which keeps our emails out of Junk. For an official guide to that click here.

For convenience, click here for our domain address to appear in an email.

Thanks

The DPS Team

Redecoration - who pays?

By The Deposit Protection Service's head of adjudication Alexandra Coghlan-Forbes

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In any adjudication claim involving redecoration costs - where the check-out evidence shows it’s definitely needed - one of the first things the adjudicator will do is look at the check-in inventory to see what state the decor was in when the tenant moved in.

The next check is how long the tenant had lived at the property, referring to guidance from industry bodies such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents for how often a landlord should be expected to redecorate.

In a recent case it was perfectly clear from a detailed check-out report that the property needed complete redecoration. The check-in inventory wasn't quite as good, but the landlord was adamant it had been newly painted when the tenant moved in.

But regardless of the quality of the evidence here, it was immediately obvious to the adjudicator that the tenant shouldn’t be paying for anything.

Why? Because the tenant had lived at the property for over 12 years. 

Industry guidance indicates landlords should expect to redecorate every five or six years. After such a long time the landlord should realistically have been expecting to redecorate when the tenant moved out.

The industry guidance would suggest that if a tenant has lived in a property for five or more years (and they are not required by a contract to carry out redecoration themselves) there is little prospect of success in a claim for costs where the tenant hasn't caused the need for redecoration.

Why we’re backing SAFEagent Awareness Week

With the calls for the regulation of all letting agents gathering momentum there’s never been a better time to prove the industry is acting in the best interests of its clients, says The Deposit Protection Service director Kevin Firth.

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The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) was created because the Government decided that the lettings industry needed greater security over the protection of tenancy deposits.

However, the three-cornered financial relationship between tenant, letting agent and landlord goes beyond deposits alone.

Client Money Protection schemes - like those run by NALS, ARLA, NAEA and RICS – exist to protect all money placed with the letting agent by landlords and tenants. They provide peace of mind and have become an indicator of a well-run business.

When The DPS announced it was to launch an insured scheme in April this year, we made it clear we would only deal with those agents who were registered with a recognised scheme.

SAFEagent Week May 13/18

Seeing the blue and black SAFEagent mark on a letting agent’s door, window or website tells landlords and tenants their money will be protected by one of the Client Money Protection schemes.

That can only be a good thing and it’s why we’re proud to back SAFEagent Awareness Week, which this year is May 13 to 18.

During this week you will see regular tweets backing the campaign, their logo on our homepage and our website linked to SAFEagent’s.

We want to see an industry taking its responsibilities seriously, and proving it deserves the trust of those whom it serves. For letting agents, membership of SAFEagent goes a long way towards achieving that goal.

Our ‘£1billion’ birthday party!

By The DPS director Kevin Firth

Since The DPS launched on April 6, 2007 just over £1,125,000,000 has been repaid to tenants and landlords across England and Wales.

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It was in our most recent year – 2012/13 – that the cash we have handed back finally crossed the £1billion mark. Quite an achievement and we’re very proud of it.

The only way that was possible is through a combination of efficiency and serious capability.

Smooth administration of the systems sitting under deposit protection laws has helped make them such a success – and we’re very proud of that, too.

A big year

It’s no exaggeration to say this has probably been the most important year for us since our launch in 2007.

I see the £1billion mark as evidence of the trust which is well placed in us as an organisation. We’re very grateful to every one of our customers.

More detail on our year can be found in our press release. In the meantime, we’re not spending any time congratulating ourselves! We have new plans afoot, so watch this space...

In the meantime – here’s to another great year!

Welcome to the new look website

If you’ve visited the DPS website since April 1 you may have noticed some changes to the look of your online account.

Basically, The DPS is spring-cleaning its look and feel whilst making a few small updates. You will not notice any change to how you use your account.

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You may know we launched our Insured Scheme on April 1. Because of that there will be changes to how our Terms and Conditions are displayed. 

There will now be three sets of Terms and Conditions

Some of the Liability and General clauses have been moved from the Custodial Scheme Terms and Conditions into the General Terms and Conditions.  There may be some new clauses within the General Terms and Conditions that may affect you so we would ask you to read the new General version of the Terms and Conditions by clicking here

New Security

If you are a landlord, when viewing deposit details through your account you will no longer be able to see your tenant’s telephone numbers or email addresses.  You will be able to validate if you have the correct details because you will be able to see the last three numbers of any phone number registered, and the first three letters of any email address registered.

Thanks for reading.

The DPS Team

Stay safe and watch our anti-phishing video

Online fraudsters are a constant threat. So-called “phishing” is where they send emails posing as legitimate organisations - trying to get at your security details.

We have produced this video to help our customers spot the tell-tale signs. We hope you find it useful.

The DPS rules out membership and annual renewal fees for new Insured Scheme

We are pleased to announce the pricing structure for our new insurance based deposit protection scheme. Offering customers the easiest and cheapest option

  • Value for money - We will offer the industry’s cheapest published option for landlords and letting agents to protect their deposits.
  • Easy - The DPS insured scheme will not be charging membership or annual renewal fees to its customers, so no membership paperwork to contend with either!
  • Convenient - Letting Agents will be charged per deposit monthly by direct debit; the (ex vat) fee to protect each deposit will be just £9.50 (further discounts will be available for volume).
  • Landlords will be charged just £15.00 per deposit for deposits under £500 (inc vat), and only £22.20 per deposit for deposits over £500 (inc vat) on a pay-as-you-go basis.

We’re delighted to be able to provide our customers with the best value for money deposit protection options. Our goal is to deliver excellent service to the industry and offering the most cost effective insured scheme alongside our custodial option will ensure landlords and letting agents have the best choice of protection.

 

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A ‘one stop shop’ for deposit protection

We currently run the only custodial based deposit protection scheme in England and Wales and we are the first scheme to offer landlords and letting agents both protection options.

Following in the footsteps of The DPS custodial scheme, landlords and letting agents will be able to register with this service online as well as by phone; and manage both custodial and insured deposits via one easy, integrated online account. Our new insured scheme is due to launch on the 2nd April 2013 and we’re pleased to see landlords and letting agents are already registering in advance.

To find out more about The DPS (Insured and Custodial), please visit www.depositprotection.com or contact us direct at media@depositprotection.com