Autumn Statement 2015 – What it means for landlords

Yesterday’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer contained some unexpected tax changes that stand to make it harder for small investors to enter the Private Rented Sector as landlords. From April next year, the Government is to introduce new rates of stamp duty for buy-to-let properties and second home purchases, set 3% above the rate for first home purchases.

On a buy-to-let property costing £180,000, stamp duty will be £6,500, whereas under current rules it would add a mere £1,100 to the purchase costs. The new rate applies to all second home purchases, not just buy-to-lets, so investors can’t just purchase a house for personal use and convert it to a rental property at a later date.

The new stamp duty rules, combined with recent increased regulation and tax relief changes for wear and tear replacement and buy-to-let mortgages, suggest that the Government intends to restrict the role of private investors in the PRS, and there is a real risk that landlords feeling the squeeze may exit the market. It’s interesting to note that the higher stamp duty rates will not apply to corporate entities or funds making significant investments in residential property, which indicates the Government is seeking to shift towards a more institutionally managed Private Rented Sector. The Government plans to consult on the policy detail, including on whether an exemption for corporate entities and funds owning more than 15 residential properties is appropriate.

The Government intends to use some of income generated by the increased duty to inject £60 million into the affordable housing budget for communities in England where the impact of second homes has had a particular impact, to help first time buyers get on the housing ladder. It’s not clear how an area will qualify as impacted by second home ownership, nor if new affordable housing can be created in these locations.  

There’s also little indication that the funds generated by the changes will be used to increase the provision of affordable renting. In fact, the statement announces that a pilot to extend right-to-buy to Housing Association tenants will commence shortly with five associations, further reducing the availability of social housing, with the expectation that the Private Rented Sector will absorb the strain.

Many commentators are already decrying the Chancellor’s changes, suggesting that they will in effect choke off investment in the PRS, but it remains to be seen how they will alter the make-up of the market and the type of investors operating in this sector.

Letting Agent in Wales? Remember to display your fees…

With effect from Monday 23 November letting agents in Wales will be obliged to display their fees, or risk receiving a fine of up to £5,000.

As stated in the Consumer Rights Act 2015, agents must display their fees:

  • at each of the agent’s premises at which the agent deals face-to-face with persons using or proposing to use services to which the fees relate, and
  • at a place in each of those premises at which the list is likely to be seen by such persons.

Put simply, this means that any letting agent with premises in Wales must display a list of their fees in a place that their customers can easily see them. The new rules also stipulate that agents must also publish a list of their fees on their website (if they have one).

Any breach of this new obligation could result in a financial penalty of up to £5,000 being imposed, so it’s important that you act quickly to be ready for the 23 November deadline.

Full details of the new regulations can be found here.


A new contract, the same high standards

We’re delighted to announce that we’ve retained the government contract to continue operating our Custodial tenancy deposit protection scheme following a competitive tender.

Our Managing Director, Julian Foster, said: “I’m delighted that the government has again chosen to entrust us with this substantial responsibility.

“This contract reflects the smoothness, transparency, fairness and security with which we have run the scheme over the last eight years – as well as its huge popularity among landlords and letting agents.”

We’re the largest provider of tenancy deposit protection in the UK to date and have been the only operator of a Custodial scheme since our launch in April 2007. We’re thrilled that we have the opportunity to continue providing high quality services to the almost half a million landlords and letting agents we have registered with us, as well as over 2 million tenants who depend on us to keep their deposits safe.

The government invited prospective partners to submit tenders for the scheme in March this year, and as well as awarding us a licence to continue operating our existing Custodial scheme, have given licences to two other businesses to set up new Custodial schemes to run alongside our existing scheme and the three Insured deposit protection schemes.

With the rental sector expanding and evolving, we’ll continue to play a leading role within the industry, focusing on rapid deposit repayment; clear, regular communication with landlords and tenants; and the provision of the best support, whether online, over the phone or in person at events, exhibitions and workshops.

We look forward to building on our relationship with you in the future, and continuing to provide you with the same high standards of service you expect!

The DPS Team

Don't lose your deposit on bonfire night

We all know how fun bonfire night can be, and it’s always tempting to outdo the neighbours with your display, but it does have its risks. There are over 1,000 firework-related injuries* every year, and also damage caused to gardens and properties. If you’re a tenant in rented accommodation, it can prove costly and could lead to you losing your deposit if you’re liable for any damage caused to the property.

When planning your evening, here are just a few facts for you to bear in mind… 

  • Fireworks can travel at speeds up to 150mph*
  • Three sparklers burn together at the same heat as that of a blowtorch*
  • The majority of firework-related injuries happen at family or private parties*

We want you to have a great time, but more importantly we want you, your family and friends, and your homes to be safe, so here are some safety tips to help avoid bonfire night going with the wrong sort of bang! 

1)    Make sure you only buy fireworks from a reputable retailer
2)    If you’re having a bonfire, make sure it’s at least 18m (60ft) away from buildings trees, hedges, fences or sheds
3)    To avoid your fireworks ‘firing’ in the wrong direction, put them in a bucket of soft earth and in a suitable location
4)    Keep a close eye on the weather. Any sudden changes in wind direction could change the direction of aerial fireworks
5)    Don’t ever light fireworks in or near your property
6)    Never throw any used fireworks on a bonfire
7)    Never use flammable liquids like paraffin or petrol to get a bonfire going. This can cause an uncontrollable spread of fire or even an explosion.

Of course, the best way of protecting your deposit on bonfire night is to leave it to the professionals and go to a public display.

Have fun, be safe and keep your home in one piece.  

The DPS Team

*Source: NHS choices  

New smoke and carbon monoxide alarm regulations for landlords

On 1 October 2015, a number of new regulations for landlords were introduced, as a result of the Deregulation Act 2015. This included a requirement for landlords to have smoke alarms installed in their properties. Landlords are also legally obliged to provide carbon monoxide alarms in any premises which contain a solid fuel burning appliance – this applies to any kind of wood burning stove or an open coal fire. It will also extend to equipment such as a solid fuel Aga in the kitchen.

We think tenant safety should be the top priority for landlords, so we asked the London Fire Brigade if they would share their advice following the introduction of the new regulations. Mark Hazelton, Group Manager for Community Safety Development at London Fire Brigade, discusses the recent changes in the law and what this now means for landlords.

Did you know that…

  • 40 people per year are killed by carbon monoxide
  • You are four times more likely to die in a fire at home without a smoke alarm
  • You are seven times more likely to have a fire if you’re living in rented or shared accommodation

Due to a recent change in the law, it is now the landlord’s responsibility to fit smoke alarms at the beginning of each tenancy. It is also their responsibility to test them regularly to make sure they’re working. If these measures aren’t put in place, not only could you be risking the lives of your tenants, you could also face a possible £5,000 fine.

It is vitally important to fit at least one working smoke alarm on each level of a house or home. As the Government statistic above shows, those in rented accommodation are much more likely to have a fire. Many fires happen at night when people are sleeping and smoke alarms are the best early warning, buying precious seconds for people to escape. Only recently, a smoke alarm saved four people from a house fire in Lewisham.

Following the change in the law on October 1st 2015, the Government is giving away free smoke alarms via Fire and Rescue services across the country.
In London, fire chiefs are offering free alarms to landlords in areas that have been identified as being more at risk of having fires. You can fill out the following application form to see whether you are eligible for one:

If you’re a landlord in another part of the UK, please contact your local fire and rescue service to ask about whether you are able to get a free alarm. The scheme also provides carbon monoxide alarms to landlords of properties that contain a solid fuel burner, like a wood stove. Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can also be bought relatively cheaply at most hardware shops.
It really is easy to fit them in your properties and necessary if you want to stay on the right side of the law.

Visit Emma's House of Horrors for the chance to win tickets to the London Dungeon!

Are you feeling brave? You'll need to be if you want to explore my House of Horrors for a chance to win* a family ticket to the London Dungeon.

We've got five family tickets to give away, one for each of the five despicable deeds you'll uncover that are sure to turn the stomachs of tenants and landlords alike.

To be in with a chance of winning, search high and low to find the five sinister situations and simply decide which one is based on a real happening that we've seen in a deposit dispute.

When you think you know the answer, to enter the competition, send us a tweet to @The_DPS including the location where it occurred (e.g. "kitchen") and the hashtag #DPSHalloweenHorrors. You must include the hashtag, and your tweet must be made by midnight on 31 October 2015.

Visit my Halloween House of Horrors!

(For the best viewing experience, please download and open with Adobe Reader)

Good luck!


*P.S. Don't forget to read our not so scary terms and conditions before entering. It would be frightful if you missed out for failing to follow them.

PLEASE NOTE: Our competition is now closed so we are no longer accepting entries. Did you get the right answer? Follow us on twitter @The_DPS to find out whether you guessed right.

Your views on tackling rogue landlords and improving the private rented sector

As the home of deposit protection, we believe we've an important role to play in making sure the government hears and understands your views on changes to the private rented sector (PRS). So, when the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) opened a consultation on the issue of tackling rogue landlords, we got on the case, seeking your feedback through a survey and some in-depth discussions, before collating your responses and submitting them to the consultation.   

We thought you’d like to know what your collective position is on the topics we asked you about, so here’s a summary of what you told us.

We found out that you're overwhelmingly of the opinion that rogue landlords and letting agents tarnish the reputation of the good operators in the PRS, and are generally supportive of stronger penalties to encourage better standards in the sector.

You’re open to the idea of a centralised national register of landlords and letting agents rather than individual registration or licensing with local authorities. You also believe that a national register would be the best way of both administrating fit and proper person tests and keeping a blacklist of rogue landlords and letting agents.

Let's take a look at some of the numbers:

  • Over 90% of you believe that rogue landlords and letting agents give the PRS a bad name and that something more needs to be done.
  • More than two thirds of you think that fines at their current level aren’t enough to deter rogue landlords and letting agents.
  • Almost three quarters of you think that a national, centralised register of landlords and letting agents would be better than multiple registers or licensing schemes maintained individually by local authorities.
  • 59% of you believe a national, centralised registering body would be better suited to operate a fit and proper person test than local authorities, and 80% of you felt that it would be better at keeping a blacklist of offenders.
  • Almost three quarters of you feel that blacklisted landlords or letting agents shouldn’t be able to accept deposits from tenants.
  • Over half of you also felt that records of civil penalties and previous Rent Repayment Orders should be available for prospective tenants to view.

Weeding out rogue landlords and letting agents is something you clearly want, and you’re heartened that the Government is listening to your views. Whilst you’re willing to work with them to achieve this, you want to see better enforcement of the rules, rather than regulation for regulation’s sake. The general view is that good letting agents and landlords are already adhering to the existing rules and regulations and that more must be done by government, local or central, to police these. For example, Trading Standards enforcing the requirement for all fees to be published in letting agents’ windows.

Thank you for sharing your views with us. It’s allowed us to use our position as a key industry body to ensure your combined voice is heard by the DCLG. We’re looking forward to the results of the consultation soon, and sharing our take on the Government’s response with you.

New Deregulation Act rules come into force

Earlier this year, the Deregulation Act 2015 introduced changes to tenancy deposit protection law to resolve issues raised by the Superstrike Ltd vs Rodriguez case in 2013. The Deregulation Act also contained a number of new requirements for landlords which come into force today (1 October 2015). As part of our commitment to helping you keep abreast of changes to the Private Rented Sector, we’ve summarised the changes for you here.

Changes to eviction procedure

Where a landlord has failed to address a tenant’s complaint about the condition of the property they’re renting, and the local authority has both verified the complaint and served either an improvement notice or a notice of emergency remedial action, the landlord can’t evict the tenant for 6 months, and must also complete the repairs demanded by the local authority notice. By introducing this law, the Government hopes to protect tenants against retaliatory evictions.

The Act also introduces changes to simplify the process of eviction for landlords in cases where it’s justified. A new form has been introduced for use when applying to court for a ‘no-fault’ (section 21) eviction, and is designed to reduce the likelihood of cases being thrown out on technical errors which lead to increased costs, lost time and inconvenience for landlords. The form must be used for all tenancies starting on or after 1 October 2015. Use for tenancies starting before this date is optional but encouraged. You can find the form in the snappily titled document The Assured Shorthold Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 No. 1725, which can be accessed here.

There are also some additional new rules on evictions and the information which must be provided to tenants before landlords can start the eviction process. More detail on these will be available in guidance available on the Government website from today (1 October 2015). 

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations

To reduce the risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning to tenants, Parliament has approved new regulations, meaning from today, 1 October 2015, private sector landlords will need to have installed at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their properties, and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance such as a coal fire or wood burning stove. This applies to all tenancies, not just those starting on or after 1 October. Landlords must ensure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy. It has been suggested that they’ll even need to have them tested on the  day tenancy begins, to properly ensure they are in working order, rather than a few days before. An alarm failure in the intervening days between the test and the tenancy commencing could result in a breach and the potential for a large fine to be imposed. To find out more, download the Government’s explanatory booklet for landlords.

The Government will be updating their ‘How to rent’ guide to reflect the changes that have now come into force, helping to  ensure both landlords and tenants are clear on their key rights and responsibilities and improve standards in the private rented sector.

Students, 12 tips to safeguard your deposit and have a happy tenancy

Students, it’s that time again – your new academic year. We hope by now you’ve sorted your accommodation and are looking forward to moving in, if you haven’t done so already.

Here at DPS HQ we’ve been recalling our student days, remembering how we made it through the long hours of study with the help of the great friends we made and some epic house parties…but we also haven’t forgotten the weird unidentifiable objects in the fridge, the post-party disaster zones, and, of course, always being skint!

There’s no good time to lose money but it’s worse when you have hardly any in the first place, which is why we were sad when our research into deposit repayments suggested students are twice as likely to lose part/all of their deposit than other renters.

Common sense should tell you that you’ll need to keep your house clean and in good order to get your money back, but there’s actually a lot more to keeping your deposit than you might think.

To help you, we’ve put together these 12 tips:

1.    First and foremost, make sure your landlord protects your deposit with an authorised deposit protection scheme.

2.    When you move in, agree an inventory with your housemates and return it to your landlord. Take date stamped photographs of any damage or problems that you record on the inventory as evidence.

3.    If you don’t know your landlord, check their name against your university or student union’s list of approved landlords.

4.    Remember, every tenancy agreement can be different: make sure you read yours and understand your obligations.

5.    Record all communication with your landlord in writing, particularly any agreements you make. Follow up phone calls with an email confirming what was agreed. 

6.    Keep copies of any documents, receipts and emails relating to your tenancy.

7.    Report any defects with the property promptly and in writing, including the cause of the problem where you can.

8.    Take photos of problems that arise in the property, and make sure they are date stamped.

9.    Remember your obligations as tenants are what are known legally as “joint and several”: if an individual tenant does not accept personal responsibility when something goes wrong, such as a breakage, then it becomes the joint responsibility of all the tenants.

10.    Keep in mind that with most tenancy agreements you’ll be liable for damage to communal areas as well as your own room.

11.    Remember in most cases you’ll be liable right until the end of the tenancy, even if you move out before your housemates. You could remain jointly responsible for any cleaning or repairs to the property, even if the damage happened after you left.

12.    Attend the checkout inspection at the end of your tenancy and take your own photographs if necessary.

It may seem like a long time before you’ll need to think about moving out, but now’s the right time to be thinking about your deposit, so you don’t lose out. Now you’re in the know, why not do a good deed and share these tips with your housemates and friends? 

And don’t forget to watch our short video to see some amusing ways you could lose your deposit.

Government Proposals Could Mean Big Changes for Private Rented Sector Landlords

During recent weeks, the Government has proposed a number of changes to legislation, each of which is expected to have a significant impact on landlords in the Private Rented Sector .

The lettings industry is coming under ever greater scrutiny. This added attention is generating a wide range of viewpoints from many commentators, and in many cases, dividing opinion. In this post, we explain each proposal in turn, and discuss the implications each would have.

Tougher Punishments for Rogue Landlords

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), recently invited input from the PRS on new proposals that will make it harder for rogue landlords to operate.

It must be stressed that, whilst rogue landlords make up a very small percentage, they have a large effect on public opinion, and damage the reputation of good landlords everywhere.

The DCLG ’s recent discussion paper was clear -  they want to do more to drive rogue landlords out of the industry - and it included a variety of ways that may help achieve this, such as fines for offenders and the possible introduction of a blacklist and bans for repeat offenders. 

It also explored the use of rent repayment orders, civil penalties and other ways to weed out the rogues, including fit and proper person tests. While these tests already exist, the document proposes making them stricter and less open to interpretation.

We’re really pleased to see the DCLG reaching out to gain the views, insight and experiences of landlords and agents. It’s clear from the discussions and feedback we’ve had, that many of you welcome these steps, providing they don’t result in more red tape. We look forward to seeing the outcome of the consultation later this year.

We also recently surveyed landlords registered with us asking for their opinions on the government consultation, and we’re currently analysing the results. We’ll share our findings with you soon.

Big Changes to Tax Relief

In his recent budget, the Chancellor announced a shake-up of the tax relief rules landlords can currently take advantage of. The capping of buy-to-let mortgage tax relief to the basic 20% tax rate has divided opinion, with many people suggesting it will price landlords out of the market and ultimately drive rents up.

Others, however, have suggested that it levels the field of landlord taxation with homeowners who can’t claim tax relief on their mortgage repayments, making it fairer for everybody.

Then there are some who claim that landlords should treat the renting of their property as a business rather than simply as an investment, and should, therefore, be taxed accordingly. 

Much of the discussion rests on whether landlords view buying a property to let as a way to get more money coming in every month, or whether they see it as a long-term investment, relying on the house to increase in value over time.

Wear and Tear - Consultation

Another area where tax relief changes have been proposed is for wear and tear of furniture and fittings.

Currently, landlords can claim a wear and tear allowance of 10% of rent received, regardless of the level of costs incurred. This means some landlords gain relief where no expenditure has been made, whilst others spending above the 10% level are limited on the relief they can claim. It’s also restricted to fully furnished properties only.

The new proposals will allow all residential landlords (with the exception of those providing furnished holiday lets) to claim a deduction for the cost of replacing furniture, furnishings, appliances and kitchenware provided for the tenant’s use. 

It is important to note that this tax relief is strictly for the replacement of existing furniture and fittings and not for furnishing a property in the first place.

If you’d like to make sure your voice is heard, HMRC are currently running a consultation on the proposals until 9th October 2015. You can view the consultation here.

Right to Rent to go Nationwide

Another recent announcement is the plan to roll out nationally the responsibility for landlords and letting agents to perform ‘right-to-rent’ checks, to ensure the tenant has a right to be in the country. The idea has been trialled in the West Midlands, and whilst the full results have yet to be released, the Government have decided that they will press ahead with expanding the scheme to the rest of the UK.

It’s certainly an intriguing time for the Private Rented Sector and we expect more changes to be proposed. There’s still much discussion and debate to be had about all of these topics, and we expect there to be further changes to the proposals. We’ll be following them closely to see how they develop.

Show abusive behaviour the door and let open communication in

You may have read the recent article in The Guardian  (Thousands of tenants in England 'suffering abuse' from private landlords, Wednesday 2nd September) that quotes Shelter’s rogue landlord figures. The numbers quoted, and the article as a whole, give real pause for thought.

The tenancy deposits that we protect are disputed in just 2.5% of cases, however this still represents a large number of people and we’d love to see this figure go down. This is why we encourage and promote open lines of communication between all parties, and lots of our tweets and blogs have been dedicated to this topic.

If a landlord and tenant cannot reach an agreement, they do have the opportunity to use our free Dispute Resolution service. Throughout this process, we encourage the landlord and tenant to be as open as possible with one another and we’ve been encouraged to see around 25% of the cases that go into dispute get resolved before reaching an adjudicator.

All of this aside, any incidence of abusive or unfair behaviour  is completely unacceptable and cannot be taken lightly. Landlords and tenants alike should be fully aware of their rights and responsibilities. They must also respect those of the other party at all times.

In order to foster an open and respectful relationship between landlord and tenant, there are a number of things both parties can do. For example, a detailed inventory should be prepared by the landlord, checked by the tenant, and agreed upon by both parties at the start of the tenancy.

Also, tenants should ask their prospective landlord with whom they intend to protect their deposit. Once the money has changed hands, they should check to confirm this. Shelter’s online deposit checker will help you do this. Landlords must also provide tenants with the ‘Prescribed Information’, explaining how the deposit has been protected.

Tenants should also be invited to attend a ‘check-out’ before leaving the property. Our figures show that as many as 48% either aren’t asked to attend, or fail to show up. The check-out is vital, as it allows landlords and tenants to meet face-to-face and discuss any issues they have with the property, or with the findings of the other party.

Inventories and check-outs are, in our opinion two of the most important factors for any tenancy to run smoothly. More important still, however, is frank, ongoing communication between landlords and tenants, and a sense of mutual respect. 

We'll be sharing our top 10 check-out tips with you shortly. In the meantime, take a look at our inventory top tips to help you create a clear and detailed inventory.

Big changes for landlords and letting agents in Wales

As you may have read, The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 has been enacted by the Welsh Assembly to allow a greater level of control over the housing market. 

Some of the new legislation is due to launch in autumn this year, and from even the quickest of scan-reads, it’s clear to see that it will have a huge impact on landlords and agents.

The proposed changes include the creation of standardised ‘model’ tenancy contracts, but the biggest change will be the introduction of compulsory licensing for landlords and letting agents for both the letting and management of tenanted properties. 

The new licensing scheme will operate as ‘Rent Smart Wales’, with Cardiff County Council appointed to act as the primary registration authority.

What does this mean for agents?

Under the current proposal, to obtain a licence agents will be required to pass a ‘Fit and Proper Person’ (FPP) test, the details of which are still being agreed. Without a licence, agents will not be able to undertake any letting activity including collection of rent, viewings or management. The licence requirement will extend to ‘tenant find only’ agents, though online agents may be exempt from the legislation.

It’s unclear at this point as to which agency representatives will be required to pass the FPP. However, initial indications are that anyone owning 25% or more of the lettings company will have to pass it. This will become clear when the scheme rules are released.

What does this mean for landlords?

The proposed changes for landlord registration will require landlords to register and pay fees to gain a licence for every property they let. Licences are expected to last for five years, at which point they can be renewed upon payment of another fee. Charges have yet to be decided, though to keep fees down, it’s expected that registration will be a short online process, capturing information about both the landlord and the property.  

If a landlord does not obtain a licence to manage a property, they will be committing an offence - unless they appoint a licensed letting agent to manage it on their behalf. It will be an offence to appoint an unlicensed agent.

Developing a Code of Practice

Some additional conditions are being introduced for agents and landlords applying for a licence. Recently the Welsh Government consulted with Welsh industry about the development of a ‘Code of Practice’ which would need to be adopted and adhered to as a condition of having a licence. Failure to meet the conditions of the code could result in both the licence being revoked and a potentially unlimited fine.

If introduced, the code may also state that landlords and agents will have to undertake mandatory training, though it’s not yet clear what the training would cover.

Licensing is expected to commence in autumn this year. Enforcement is likely to start in late 2016 or early 2017, in order to allow agents and landlords time to comply with the law. The Welsh Government has now launched the Rent Smart Wales website, where agents and landlords will soon be able to find out more and apply for a letting and management licence.

Cuppa Catch Up with… Chris Jackson

Chris, our Special Operations Manager was enjoying his lunch in the summer sun, when we politely interrupted to ask him a few quick questions. This is what he had to say…

Day-to-day, what do you do?

I supervise a team of 10 administrators, who form part of the Special Operations team. We’re only a small team but we have a lot of complex operational responsibilities , ranging from court orders, bankruptcy notifications, reconciliation and payment queries, to name but a few. We also handle any questions that come in relating to our Dispute Resolution service.  

My role is to make sure the team provides the highest levels of customer service possible and if it’s a difficult query, I will give my opinion and hopefully we can resolve it together.

What are you most proud of? 

I’m very proud of the work my team does. We always try to give our customers detailed information and resolve any issues as soon as we can. Given the complex nature of what we do, each member of my team has in-depth knowledge of deposit protection, as well as how the courts work and how we deal with bankruptcy. This makes sure that the right procedures are in place, so that the tenant can reclaim their deposit.   

It’s always nice for me and the team to see good feedback from customers for our customer service. This has a great impact on us and motivates us to do even better.

If you had one piece of advice for landlords, agents and tenants, what would it be?

Keep lines of communication open throughout the tenancy. This makes life so much easier at the end of a tenancy, especially if you’re agreeing on how the deposit is to be distributed. When this doesn’t happen, a dispute is much more likely which is almost always stressful for the parties involved.

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

The Bay of Plenty in New Zealand – I’ve never been there, so it would be a bit of a risk because I’m not sure if I would actually enjoy it. But from what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen it would be bliss.

A helping hand for two charities doing great work

As you may have seen, over the last year we’ve awarded up to £20,000 every three months to charities that focus their efforts on housing related issues. 

For the sixth round of awards since we started our Charity Donations Fund, we’ve had some really strong applications, with every detail being considered. We’re delighted to say we have two successful applicants: Launchpad Reading and H3 (Helping the Homeless into Housing). Both of these fantastic charities will receive £10,000.

Launchpad Reading 

Launchpad Reading has a very simple, yet effective mission statement: We believe everyone in Reading deserves their own home and the opportunity to have a positive future. This is the foundation for all the great work they do in helping Reading’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged people turn their lives around and fulfil their potential. 

Launchpad had been unsuccessful in an earlier application, but this time round their application was much stronger – painting a vivid picture of why a donation was needed and how the money would be used. The review panel particularly liked the support they give people to become independent again, which goes beyond just rent and deposit guarantees. 

‘Helping people find a home is at the very core of what Launchpad does. A home is the foundation of all of our support and with the generous donation from the DPS Charity Fund we will together be making a home a reality for many more disadvantaged people in Reading and helping to prevent homelessness in the town.’  Ian Caren, Launchpad Reading CEO


H3 (Helping the Homeless into Housing) 

H3 works with those who’ve been homeless before, alongside other agencies, to help homeless people in their local community. It can be very difficult to find social housing for those homeless people who are not considered a priority. H3 gives homeless people the vital support they need to get them back into a life of independence. 

Their application was extremely detailed and clearly explained how their ‘Homefinder’ programme could help homeless people out of their situation. We believe this funding will go a long way to helping many more people over the years. 

 “A lot of people would have very limited options of getting rehoused without Homefinder. We have recently reached a project milestone by housing 100 people since the programme began and being awarded £10,000 from the DPS Charity Donations Fund is a fantastic boost as it will allow us to continue helping local people move into a place they can finally call home.”  Sheila Mason (H3 Trustee/Committee Member)

Have you thought about what would happen if your letting agent went bankrupt?

As a landlord, renting out a property can sometimes be stressful, especially if things outside of your control go wrong.

A new appliance breaking down outside of warranty, rent arriving consistently late or weather damage to your property’s roof… these are scenarios familiar to many landlords and ones you can usually deal with.

But what happens if your letting agent goes bankrupt? Unfortunately, this occurrence is not as rare as it once was, and we’ve seen a small but steady increase in cases over recent years. There’s no doubt this situation has the potential to be incredibly stressful and will have many repercussions, but if it’s protected with us then one thing you don’t have to worry about is your tenant’s deposit. Both our Custodial and Insured deposit protection schemes protect against this scenario, and we work with landlords to allow them to take over the management of the deposit from a bankrupt agent, maintaining protection throughout the process.

We were recently contacted by one of our customers after this scenario happened to them:

When my letting agent was declared bankrupt, I was worried that my tenants’ deposits would no longer be protected.

However, The DPS reassured me and guided me through the process of regaining the deposits. I was really impressed that the excellent systems in place at The DPS are equally secure for both landlords and tenants.
— Landlord

As this Landlord found out, we provide simple, secure deposit protection and you can trust us to keep your tenant’s deposit safe.

If you have questions or concerns about any aspect of deposit protection, you can find a host of information on our web pages, or you can always contact us on 0330 303 0030.

Did you know...

Agents can only use our insured scheme if they're regulated?

This means that all of our agents have client money protection insurance giving you a guarantee that your money is safe in the event of theft or misappropriation. Alongside our deposit protection, it’s the perfect combination.

£10,000 donation supports charity’s work homing 142 people

Framework was among the first charities to benefit from our Charity Donations fund, receiving £10,000 in our second round of awards last year. Their application really brought to life the problems faced by the people they set out to help, so we were delighted to hear from Jon Leighton, support service manager at Framework, about how they’ve been putting our donation to use:

Framework exists to help homeless people live independently in homes of their own. We work hard to develop people to the point where they are ready to take this step, but often face huge challenges in getting people housed at the end of their time with us.  
That’s why I am so proud of our Smartmove service - a residential lettings agency that exists to find decent quality and affordable accommodation within the private sector for vulnerable people – because it gives vulnerable and excluded people a fighting chance in an increasingly challenging rental market. 
In September last year, we received a cheque for £10,000 from The DPS to continue this work – something I and the rest of the team are hugely grateful for. More importantly, this contribution has helped real people to move into real properties – people who would otherwise not be housed.
The reasons why are in many ways understandable.

Private landlords are often unwilling to welcome people with a history of homelessness and other associated problems. However, with the reassurance of Framework acting as a mediator and contributing towards the cost of a deposit, the service has been very successful in negotiating suitable living spaces for vulnerable people across Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire. In the last year, the service has housed over 142 people, with a suggested saving to society of more than £500,000 (according to “Making it count” value for money indicators by Crisis).
Mani, aged 48, was one of those real people we helped through Smartmove. Having fallen into mental ill health after a relationship breakdown, Mani’s life was very much at a point of crisis. I think his words sum up better than I ever could why Smartmove is so important, and why this donation is so welcomed.

“I was all over the place emotionally and physically and after two months’ sofa-surfing I was feeling really low and depressed. I approached Smartmove who, after an assessment, offered me a room in one of Framework’s accommodation services. After five months, my support worker approached me to say he was happy with my progress and offered me the chance of a little flat with a private landlord. The offer of a flat of my own was a lifeline to me. I had been everywhere asking for a tenancy, but was unsuccessful. Now I can’t believe how good things are going! I have independence and I have started applying for jobs.”

The incredibly generous funding that Smartmove has received from The DPS means that we are able to help many more people like Mani on their route away from homelessness and towards independence. I would like to thank The DPS again for supporting Framework and Smartmove in particular.

The Smartmove service has enabled us at Framework to create some very productive links with the private rented sector. With the continuing depletion of social housing these links become very important. Finding a safe, secure and affordable place for people to live is one of our number one priorities. And the help we’ve received so far from The DPS and Crisis has been instrumental in creating an innovative and responsive service for vulnerable people.

About Framework

Framework was formed in 2001 and provides housing, support, training, care, resettlement and employment services, opening doors for around 11,000 homeless and vulnerable people across the East Midlands and parts of South Yorkshire. These include rough sleepers, people escaping domestic violence, care leavers, former prisoners and members of the armed forces, and people with drug, alcohol and mental health problems.

More success for The DPS!

We’re delighted once again to have received the recognition of the lettings industry, this time in the Letting Agency of the Year Awards 2015.  We took the Silver Award in the Best Lettings Supplier category which covers all sectors supplying services to lettings agents.

The Lettings Agency of the Year Awards is an annual event, held in association with The Sunday Times & The Times and sponsored by Zoopla Property Group. The Best Supplier category covers all sectors which supply services to lettings agents. Award winners were decided following a rigorous and thorough judging process by a panel of 20 industry experts. They assessed all the submissions, before conducting an extensive review of the entrants which included over 150 hours of telephone interviews and independent mystery shopping exercises.

We’re determined to keep improving our business, so we really are proud to receive this kind of recognition from our industry.

Julian Foster, Managing Director of Computershare Business Services said “It's fantastic to win this award so soon after winning Best Supplier of Tenancy Deposit Protection at the ESTAS, and is an acknowledgement of the great service The DPS team deliver to our customers, especially as we were measured against such a high calibre field of suppliers to the lettings industry."

The award was presented by women’s marathon world record holder, Paula Radcliffe.  

“This really is a great achievement for us and to receive an award from such a sporting legend, who achieved so much in their career, was also a great moment” said Daren King, Head of Tenancy Deposit Protection.

Pictured: Paula Radcliffe, presenting Julian Foster and Daren King of The DPS with the award

Pictured: Paula Radcliffe, presenting Julian Foster and Daren King of The DPS with the award

A big boost for three housing charities in our first awards for 2015

As you may know, through our Charity Donations Fund we award up to £20,000 every three months to charities that focus their work in the housing sector. 

The first application window of this year closed at the end of March, and the applications have been thoroughly scrutinised. There were a number of strong applications, but we’ve made our decision. It gives us great pleasure to announce awards to three successful charities!

Colchester Emergency Night Shelter

Colchester Emergency Night Shelter (CENS) supports homeless adults in a range of ways, from CV writing to providing emergency accommodation. It often works with the most vulnerable of people, those with drug or alcohol problems, mental health issues or the long-term unemployed.

CENS did a great job of explaining how they would use the funds to set up a new Rent Deposit Guarantee scheme to fill a gap left by the closure of a similar scheme in the Colchester area. 

With a £10,000 award from our Charity Fund, CENS will help people who currently use the shelter to find and retain a long-term rented property. Throughout the first year of a new tenancy, CENS will guarantee rent payments, provide a conciliation service if things go wrong, and continue to support the tenant to become an active member of the community.


StopGap – Sheffield

The safety, security and respite that just two or three nights off the streets can provide is often enough to help people make positive steps towards longer-term housing arrangements. That’s the belief held by StopGap – a charity which covers the costs of short-term accommodation for homeless people in Sheffield. They did a great job of explaining this to us in their application, and will receive a £5,000 award as a result.

They will use the award funds to help them extend their reach, helping more people to escape the threats of violence, hunger, cold and wet weather, and the potential health problems that so often can make life a misery for homeless people. We particularly liked that everyone they work with must commit to working with a referral agency to ensure everything is being done to secure a longer-term solution.

DPS StopGap Sheffield 345x518.jpg

CINTRE Community

CINTRE Community is founded on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to live an independent lifestyle wherever possible. And we couldn’t agree more.

This application asked us to provide crucial funds for CINTRE Reachout South West – a service which helps people with a range of learning difficulties to live independently in their own homes. Key workers provide valuable support for things such as housing queries, managing money and acting as a responsible person or advocate, if needed.

Supportive communities are strong communities, so we’re delighted to award £5,000 to an initiative that is allowing people to develop and retain their independence in a supportive environment.

We’re proud to support SAFEagent Awareness Week

We’re committed to protecting tenants’ money, which is why we’re proudly supporting SAFEagent Awareness Week, running from 1 to 5 June 2015. SAFEagent was set up ‘by the industry, for the industry’ – it’s recognised by the Government and is supported by a number of organisations, including us.

When you see the blue and black SAFEagent ‘mark’ you know that the organisation you’re dealing with protects landlords’ and tenants’ money through a Client Money Protection (CMP) scheme.

Client Money Protection Schemes reimburse consumers if clients’ funds are misused. They’re completely independent and don’t act on behalf of any letting agent. There are several schemes recognised by SAFEagent. These are operated by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Law Society and the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA).

To be a member of a CMP scheme, agents and landlords are required to have:

  • professional indemnity insurance
  • defined accounting standards relating to clients’ money
  • a customer complaints procedure 
  • membership of an ombudsman scheme

We’d like to encourage all letting agents to become members of SAFEagent, to give tenants the peace of mind that their money is safe and they’re being treated fairly.

We firmly believe in improving standards in the private rental sector and the SAFEagent accreditation is vital in achieving this goal. You can find out more about SAFEagent on their website