Meet Julian

Get to know our new Managing Director, Julian Foster! 

We recently announced that Kevin Firth, Managing Director of The DPS since 2006, is taking up a new opportunity within our parent company, Computershare. We’re delighted to introduce Kevin’s replacement, Julian Foster. Julian is also part of the Computershare team and is the current Managing Director of our Voucher Services business. To help you get a picture of our new Director, he recently took time out of his busy day to answer some questions about himself.

What are you looking forward to the most about working in the private rented sector?

It’s a growing sector, which is exciting to work in. We all hear the stories where there is a bad landlord or a bad tenant, or somebody has run off with someone’s money. But if you look at the stats, in 99% of cases, everyone does it the correct way and is in the industry for the right reasons.

Our job is to protect the deposit for the tenant so that at the end of the agreement the deposit can be returned to them, or to the landlord if needed. We want to educate both parties so they know what the law requires them to do.

I see our role as providing clear information and support to landlords, tenants and letting agents so they understand exactly what the processes are and how to follow them. Situations where processes are dictated by statute can seem complicated, so we need to make sure our customers are at the heart of what we do, and that we help them every step of the way. That’s our responsibility.

You’ve helped set up an industry body in a sector which was unregulated. Why was that important to you?

My previous role was heading up Computershare’s childcare voucher business. It looks after over 15,000 companies, over 140,000 parents and over 115,000 carers, so we’ve a massive responsibility to make sure it works well.

Providing employees’ childcare vouchers isn’t a regulated activity, but there had been a movement to get an industry body off the ground for some time – the Childcare Voucher Providers Association (CVPA).

We needed a code of practice to represent the interests of the industry, to protect everyone involved and give it a united voice. I wanted to differentiate CVPA members from voucher providers that didn’t adhere to the same ethical or quality standards.

Do you have any top tips for running a successful business?

I wouldn’t ever want to suggest to anyone that there’s a magic formula. There simply isn’t. In any business, your people are your biggest asset. As leaders, we need to make sure we give them the right tools, training and development to do their job and do it well.

It’s also worth remembering that everything we do is for our customers. Without them, businesses are nothing. It’s important to align your efforts to your customers’ values, for if they’re not interested, then you’re wasting your time. I always aim to put the customer at the heart of everything we do.

What will be the biggest challenge in 2015?

There’s an election in May this year, which means that there’s an opportunity for government policy to change. We’ve already seen some changes proposed on sub-letting that could heavily impact the private rental sector. If there is a shift in government policy, or proposals come in to law, we’ll need to be ready to help our customers with advice and guidance.

What do you enjoy doing to relax/wind down outside of work?

I have a three year old little boy who is a typical toddler - very demanding and lots of fun to be with. Fortunately, he enjoys the same things my wife and I like, so we spend a lot of time visiting animal parks and farms.

Tell us something about yourself that may surprise people?

I’m quite handy in the kitchen, I love cooking for my family and friends. I’ve been known to make homemade linguine on Christmas morning. Cooking is the only creative or artistic thing I can do.                                                         

About Julian   

2010: Joined Computershare following the acquisition of HBOS Employee Equity Solutions, where he was Commercial director

2011: Became Managing Director of Computershare Voucher Services and has overseen a series of major customer service enhancements

2011: Helped launch the Childcare Voucher Providers Association establishing a code of practice for the industry.

2013: Launched Salary Extras, a new employee benefits platform.

Making your life easier when reclaiming a deposit

We are pleased to announce we’re making some changes to our service which will enhance the Joint Deposit Repayment process, making life easier for landlords and tenants if they disagree at the end of the tenancy.

We’ll be improving our systems to capture more information online and make that information visible to the tenant immediately. When a landlord wishes to retain all or part of the deposit they’ll be able to enter their claim(s), providing details for each deduction made. The tenant will then be able to review the claim(s) online and agree or disagree to each, providing their response to each one they object to. By making these changes, if a tenant doesn’t agree with all the deductions made by the Landlord, we’re able to significantly reduce the timescales of the overall dispute resolution process by around 30%.  

Both parties will also be able to see when a claim has been made, together with the amounts and any deadlines for evidence submission. Any payments that are made will also be recorded in both the agent’s and tenant’s online accounts.

The changes will take effect towards the end of April. We’re also updating our process documents and “How to” videos, so make sure you keep an eye on our website for more information.  

 

We caught up with the 700 Club - see how they're using our donation!

The 700 Club were the final successful applicants of our first donation in May 2014 and received £7,500.

The 700 Club help homeless people in Darlington achieve independence. They provide accommodation and tenancy support for people with drug and alcohol problems. They also run “Bridge2Home” – a Bond Guarantee Scheme that helps clients’ access accommodation by underwriting the bond.

We were delighted to fund them because they’re a registered UK charity who improves the delivery of housing in the private rented sector.

We recently gave the 700 Club a call to find out how our donation has been used. They were eager to tell us our funding has provided vital support for their Bridge2Home project and helped hundreds of vulnerable people gain access to housing.

With our donation the Bridge2Home scheme is offered to more clients. Their bond guarantee has been increased from £150 to £400 so they can compensate landlords for higher risks! They also visit high-need clients more often giving landlords more protection when housing these clients. And clients have a home!

Previously the scheme had been cautious in underwriting bonds of clients with high needs because of the higher risk of damage to a landlord’s property. This increased risk also put landlords off accepting these people as tenants.

Thinking of applying for funding? Make sure you have a clear plan of how you will use our money so you are able to stand out against other applications. Apply before 31 March 2015! Visit our website to download an application form.

700 Club cheque handover

Find out how The Homesavers Charity has put our donation to good use!

The Homesavers Charity was another successful applicant to our Charity Donations Fund in 2014. In May they received £7,500.

The charity helps people in Merseyside who’re on low income, facing homelessness or living in temporary accommodation access private housing. They offer tenancy deposits and financial guarantees to private landlords, which help prospective tenants into affordable housing. They also distribute survival packs to homeless people.

We awarded them funding because they improve the availability of private sector housing and they will continue to provide benefits in the long term.

We recently caught up with The Homesavers Charity and found out that five people have benefited from our donation! One of those was a woman from Liverpool who was given 28 days to leave her property. They were able to pay the £475 deposit for a house so her son didn’t need to move schools. Our funding also helped to support her housing benefit application, and money will be put aside each month so she can pay her own deposit once her tenancy ends.

Our donation was also used to help an unemployed woman and her children find accommodation when they faced homelessness due to the breakdown of her relationship. Her new landlord demanded more rent in advance because she didn’t have a rental guarantor; however The Homesavers Charity were able to cover this deposit so they could move into their home.

Inspired to apply for funding? Make sure you apply before 31 March 2015! Visit our website to download an application form.

The Homesavers Logo

What has Sanctuary Trust offered to their homeless clients with our donation?

Last year we launched our Charity Donations Fund and our first successful applicant was the Sanctuary Trust who received £5,000.

This charity offers a hostel to homeless men in Rochdale and also run STEP, a ten-bed emergency overnight shelter. They set up a project to support these men in beating substance misuse.

The application caught our eye because they wanted to offer personal development training and recreational activities to help them get back on their feet.

We recently asked Sanctuary Trust how our donation helped them. We were delighted to hear they have been able to provide training for thirteen of their residents, including basic living skills, life coaching and cooking on a budget. As a result of their cooking classes the men were able to bake a festive feast for the charity staff over Christmas.

Do you want a donation from our fund? Be specific when you submit your project and let us know how it will benefit your community in the housing sector. Apply before 31 March 2015! Visit our website to download an application form.

Sanctuary Trust

Cuppa Catch-up with... Julie-Ann

We spotted Julie-Ann, our Head of Operations, in the kitchen making coffee and took the opportunity to ask her three quick questions while the kettle boiled...

Day-to-day, what do you do?

I oversee the teams that look after our customers, both administration and phones, which is about 70 people in total. I make sure we’re providing a good quality service and giving our customers the right information. My aim is to continually improve the help and support we give our customers when they contact us.

What are you most proud of?

I’m really proud that we’ve changed the way we work – we’ve reduced response waiting times and improved the quality of the information we give as a result.

It really doesn’t matter to me how long our customer service agents spend with the customer, as long as they’re able to completely deal with their query. We ask all our agents to pre-empt the next question. If they’re telling a customer to do something, they have to make sure the customer knows exactly what they need to do and where they can go to find the information they need.

Because of this, call volumes have reduced by 10% each month, as our customers rarely need to call back again. This means we now answer the phone twice as quickly, in just 30 seconds on average.

We also call back customers at random and ask them to rate how we handled their call. We ask for a rating out of 10 for both the service, and how well we answered their question. We’re really pleased that last month 82% of all calls scored 10 out of 10. This is backed up by some great comments we’ve received from customers voting for us as their supplier of the year in the ESTAS awards.

Where would your home be, if it could be anywhere?

I would definitely move to Hong Kong, on the Kowloon side overlooking the island. I’ve visited Hong Kong 17 times, and can speak some Cantonese!

Be the adjudicator!

Ever wondered how our adjudicators reach decisions in deposit disputes? Now you have the opportunity to understand the reasoning behind dispute outcomes with the first in our new series of interactive case studies.

So take a seat at the adjudicator’s desk, examine the evidence and have a go at resolving a real-life dispute.  See if you’ve got what it takes to ‘Be the adjudicator!’

Are you a landlord based overseas? You’re not alone!

We were interested to find out where in the world our landlords are located, so we did some research to find out! Check out our new interactive heat map which shows the number of landlords in each country and how many properties they own!

More than half of all our landlords who live overseas are based in Europe, with one in ten being in France (bonjour!). Our top ten locations also include Spain, Ireland, Germany and Switzerland.

Many of our international landlords also reside in English-speaking nations, with four in 10 from Australia, the USA, Ireland or New Zealand.

Don’t forget

Whether you live here or overseas, if you’re renting a property out in England and Wales, you’re required to protect your tenants’ deposits by law, and we’re the only provider to offer you a choice of either custodial or insured deposit protection.

Stats and facts

  • All together, the Arabic-speaking world represents 4.43% of landlords based abroad
  • More than four out of five international landlords have just one property registered with us
  • The continent with the second-highest proportion of international landlords is Oceani
  • Within the continents, South Africa has by far the highest number of landlords in Africa, Brazil has the most landlords in South America and Hong Kong – a Special Administrative Region of China – dwarfs the mainland’s total with 5.01% of the global total

Christmas Opening Hours

On behalf of everyone at The DPS, we'd like to wish you a very merry Christmas.

Our call centre will be open at the following times over the festive period:

  • Monday 22 December: 8.30am - 5.30pm
  • Tuesday 23 December: 8.30am - 5.30pm
  • Wednesday 24 December: 8.30am - 4.00pm
  • Thursday 25 December: Closed
  • Friday 26 December: Closed
  • Monday 29 December: 8.30am - 5.30pm
  • Tuesday 30 December: 8.30am - 5.30pm
  • Wednesday 31 December: 8.30am - 4.00pm
  • Thursday 1 January: Closed
  • Friday 2 January: 8.30am - 5.30pm

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.

 

Phone_377.png

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

5857366257_91dbcb5fe1.jpg

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.

5369281726_63f6b18ba3.jpg

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