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 operated by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), the National Landlords Association (NLA), the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS).

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

Beware of fraudsters targeting tenants

Con artists and fraudsters are constantly changing their tactics. This is why we continually monitor the use of our service, as from time to time tenants can sadly find themselves a target.

We’ve identified a new scam which is targeting tenants using websites such as spareroom.com.

Here’s how it works:

  • The fraudster advertises a fake property or room – often at quite a cheap rental rate to attract interest
  • To secure the rental, prospective tenants are told to make a deposit payment to The DPS using a set of bank account details that actually belong to the fraudster

How to spot the scam

First and foremost, we will never ask you to make a payment directly to us.

You should only ever make a deposit payment to the letting agency or landlord, and we advise that wherever possible you inspect the property/room in person before doing so. Always obtain a receipt.

In many scams, communication is conducted via email. Tell-tale signs will be bad spelling or grammar and overly informal language (e.g. “finish the deal”). They may also try to make you feel under pressure to do what they want, and will sometimes ask you to confirm information that they should already have.

Protecting your money

Fortunately fraudulent landlords and letting agents are a minority in our industry. The majority are genuine and treat their tenants fairly. For further peace of mind, it’s also worth checking if your landlord or agent is a member of an industry body such as the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), the National Landlords Scheme (NLA). the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), or the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS). Membership of these schemes indicates that a letting agent/landlord is genuine and committed to improving standards in the private rented sector. If you’re dealing with a letting agent, you can also check if they operate a client money protection scheme. The Safe Agent mark is an industry accreditation that shows an agent uses client money protection, which can also give you additional reassurance about the organization or person you’re dealing with.

Staying safe online

Here’s a few other tips:

  • Keep your passwords secret
  • Where possible, use passwords that include numbers, capital letters, lower case letters and symbols to make them more secure
  • Don’t write passwords down or save them in your phone
  • Take a good look at emails before clicking on any link – if it looks fake, or the offer sounds too good to be true, then think twice

You can also watch our video on ‘phishing’ to help you learn more about staying safe from fraudsters using email as a way to gain your personal information.

If you’re still not sure if an email has come from us, please forward it to us here and we’ll let you know if it’s genuine.

Do you rent to students?

We recognise that business runs a little differently for agents who let to students, which means your needs are different too.
 
We know it's getting close to that time of year when students will be ending their studies and their tenancies, which means a busy period ahead for you. With all your deposit repayments occurring at once, you need a deposit protection provider who can take away the administrative burden.

We’ve created a helpful infographic with some tips and tools to help make the process as easy as 123. We hope you find it useful.

Find out how Framework is using our donation to help homeless people in Nottingham

In September 2014 we donated £10,000 from our Charity Donations Fund to the charity Framework. 

Framework is dedicated to helping homeless people, preventing homelessness and helping those who are vulnerable find new direction and opportunities in their lives.

Our donation has allowed Framework to find accommodation for clients with very low incomes and very few housing options. One of their clients has already been able to move into a clean, affordable property, with fewer worries about finding the money to live. And even more people will be able to move in the coming months.

Are you a charity working in the housing sector that could benefit from some additional funding? Apply before our next submission deadline on 30 June 2015! Visit our website to download an application form.

How is the Cheltenham Housing Aid Centre using our donation to help homeless people?

In September last year we donated £10,000 from our Charity Donations Fund to The Cheltenham Housing Aid Centre (CHAC). 

They are a small independent charity that gives free advice and information to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in their community.  

We took the opportunity to catch-up with CHAC to see how our donation helped rehouse five people in the Cheltenham area. One of those was a local man who was living in his car after the breakdown of his relationship, leaving him depressed and desperate. Our funding has helped him find a flat. He can now have his kids over to stay and is looking forward to getting back into work.

Over the last year The DPS Charity Donations Fund has donated £80,000 to good causes and we’re proud to be able to support the vital work of charities such as CHAC. 

If you would like to apply for funding, make sure you apply before our next submission deadline on 30 June 2015! Visit our website to download an application form.

The Deregulation Act 2015

The Deregulation Act 2015 has been introduced to help clarify some of the requirements around protecting deposits, particularly those taken before 6 April 2007.

This new legislation in relation to tenancy deposits came into force on the 26 March, and was introduced following the Court of Appeal judgement in the case of Superstrike vs Rodrigues in June 2013.

How this will affect you

The key deposit protection changes affecting landlords and letting agents are:

•    Deposits taken before 6 April 2007, for tenancies which have subsequently moved onto a periodic tenancy on or after this date, now need to be protected in a tenancy deposit protection scheme if the tenancy is still running. Landlords have until 23 June 2015 to protect the deposit or potentially face a fine.
•    For deposits taken before 6 April 2007, where the tenancy became periodic before this date, landlords are not required to protect the tenant’s deposit. However, landlords won’t be able to serve a section 21 notice to regain possession of a property unless the deposit is protected.  
•    If a tenancy is renewed or rolls over on a periodic basis, landlords don’t need to reissue Prescribed Information to a tenant if the deposit remains with the same authorised scheme, and the parties and premises remain the same.
•    The legislation has also clarified that the reference to ‘the landlord’ within the Prescribed Information includes those acting on behalf of the landlord, such as letting agents.

Our Managing Director, Julian Foster, said: “We welcome these changes, which provide much needed clarity over the protection of older deposits.

“It brings an end to confusion over the management of deposits taken before the legislation came into force that have been retained by landlords past their original tenancy period. 

“We’ll now help landlords and agents act in time to protect older deposits.” 

There are further changes within the Deregulation Act 2015 that may affect landlords and letting agents. Full details of the Act can be found here. You should take independent legal advice in order to understand how this and other changes in the Act affect you.

If you’re a landlord or letting agent affected by the new changes and want to find out about your deposit protection options, call us on 0330 303 0030 or visit our website to find out about our schemes. We’re the only deposit protection provider to offer a choice between insured protection and a free custodial scheme.

 

Thank you!

We’re delighted to announce we’ve been awarded Supplier of the Year Best in Sector at the prestigious annual ESTAS awards.

What makes this award so gratifying is the fact it was determined based on customers’ ratings of our service. To have so many of you take the time to vote for us is fantastic and we’d like to thank you for your support.

The process also allowed voters to provide comments about our service and we received some great ones. Here are some of our favourites.

“This is an excellent service I wouldn't be without it. It offers confidence and assurance to landlords and tenants.”

“I would have no hesitation recommending The DPS. I have always been happy with the service received.”

“As a company dealing with different types of enquiries and requests, we always find the staff at The DPS helpful & knowledgeable!”

“We have used The DPS for over 8 years now - and we cannot fault their service at all. Thank you.”

Receiving this award means so much more to us than merely being able to say we’re Best in Sector.  It’s because it was voted for by you, our customers, and that more than anything else makes us proud.

Thank you once again,

The DPS Team

We’ve made reclaiming a deposit easier!

We’ve made some changes to the Joint Deposit Repayment process that will help to smooth your end of tenancy experience.   

When a landlord makes a claim to keep part of a deposit online (and gives their reasons why) the tenant can now review the claims straight away and respond to each one, speeding up the process.

We’ve also updated our Alternative Dispute Resolution online process so both the Landlord and Tenant can see when a claim has been made, the disputed amount and deadlines for evidence submission

To make sure you know how to use the updated processes, we’ve created new flow charts showing both landlords and tenants how to start the repayment process. Check them out on our website, along with our other updated process documents. 

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t forget you can ask our virtual agent, ‘Emma’ or contact us using our online form.

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Our second successful applicant of our Q4 2014 donation is…

Wycombe Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme (WRDGS)! We’re pleased to reveal that they’ve received £10,000 from our Charity Donations Fund.

The charity prevents homelessness in the area covered by Wycombe District Council. They’re able to do this by:

       guaranteeing deposits needed by private landlords to secure a tenancy

       liaising between tenants, landlords and benefits departments if a problem arises

       offering free, confidential advice about housing.

 Catriona Plummer, Chairman of Trustees at WRDGS, said “landlords require rent to be paid monthly in advance, and as housing benefit is paid four weeks in arrears, many of our clients struggle to meet this requirement and secure accommodation.

 “This donation will allow us to help around 18 local households pay rent upfront and find somewhere for them to live despite their difficult circumstances”.

 We’re delighted that our money will help in this way and we look forward to catching up with them in six months to find out how their project is going.

 Are you part of a charity that has a project in mind to help those in the private rental sector? We may be able to support you. Apply before 30 June 2015 for a chance to receive funding from our Charity Donations Fund! Visit our website to download an application form.

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Our first successful applicant of our Q4 2014 donation is…

Aylesbury Homeless Action Group (AHAG)! We’re delighted to announce that we’ve awarded them £10,000 from our Charity Donations Fund.

They’re a charity who prevents homelessness by providing advice, support and information to people in the Vale of Aylesbury who’re without accommodation, facing destitution or poorly housed.

Karen Warner, Operations Manager at AHAG said “many people in Aylesbury are struggling financially, and the donation from The DPS will help our charity provide the helping hand they need to secure somewhere to live”.

Their project will allow clients to secure affordable rented accommodation and help to reduce the number of people in the area without a home. AHAG are also looking to help those who’ve already secured a property by offering a starter pack of basic household items.

Do you know a charity who would like to receive funding for their next project? Our second quarter is now open for applications. Apply before 30 June 2015! Visit our website to download an application form.

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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