The Localism Act achieved Royal Assent in December and the DCLG has now confirmed that changes to tenancy deposit protection, introduced by the Bill, will come into force on 6th April. Tenancies already in place on this date will have 30 days in which to comply with the new rules. Here’s a recap of the changes due to take effect as a result of The Localism Act:
30 days – not 14 – to protect deposits
From 6th April, landlords and letting agents have 30 days from receipt of deposit in which to protect it.
The re-wording and extension of this timeline also closes the loophole with regards to deposit protection deadlines that was highlighted by cases such as Universal Estates v Tiensia in 2010.
Now, if a deposit is not protected within 30 days, the tenant can take their landlord or letting agent to court – there is no other way to interpret this legislation.
The requirement for providing the Prescribed Information to the tenant will also be changed to within 30 days of receipt of the deposit.
Whilst we provide a template for Prescribed Information on our website, it is the landlord or letting agent’s responsibility to ensure it is issued at the correct times so it’s vital they review the Localism Act and understand when Prescribed Information should be issued.
No retrospective protection after the tenancy ends
If a tenant makes an application to the county court once the tenancy has ended, the landlord will no longer be able to retrospectively protect the deposit in order to comply with the Act. If the tenancy has ended, the only option is for the landlord to repay the deposit, or part thereof, to the tenant.
Revised sanctions for non protection
The changes give the courts discretion to award not less than the amount of the deposit and not more than three times that amount depending on the individual case. For example, a repeat offender may find themselves with a larger fine compared to a landlord who has simply forgotten to protect as an administrative oversight.
Section 21 notices
Further clarity to Section 215 of the Housing Act highlights that a section 21 notice may not be given where a deposit has not been protected within the 30 day period. However, there are exceptions to this which you can view in The Localism Act.
For a comprehensive explanation of each change, read our blog from September 2011 – ‘Tenancy deposit protection amendments proposed by the Localism Bill’. You can also read the The Localism Act (section 184) and view the amendments against the Housing Act 2004 (sections 213 – 215 are relevant).