We’ve returned 1 million tenancy deposits!

On Tuesday we paid back our one millionth deposit to Yvonne Stenning, a tenant from South East England! It’s great to have hit the million milestone just before our 5th birthday on April 7th and to mark the occasion, we’ve sent a bottle of champagne to the tenant and letting agent.

When we called Yvonne to let her know she said: “It’s a lovely gesture particularly as it was such an easy process; The DPS did all the hard work!” 

Her letting agent Wendy Carman from Molica Franklin, was pleased too: "We protect all our deposits with The DPS and it was a big surprise to be called and offered a bottle of bubbly! I'm thrilled it was Yvonne's deposit, she’s a wonderful tenant."

Since 2007, when The DPS started, we have returned deposits worth over £750 million to tenants, landlords and letting agents.

As the only approved custodial tenancy deposit protection scheme in England and Wales, we’ve focused on honing our unique repayment system to ensure that deposits are repaid as fast as possible. As soon as we have agreement from both parties, we can repay deposits within 2 days so that tenants can quickly use their cash for future lettings, for instance.

We re-pay an average of 950 deposits a day to recipients across England and Wales and work really hard to make things as simple as possible for everyone involved. We’re aiming to launch in Scotland too in the very near future, so landlords and tenants there will be able to take advantage of the same tried and tested system.

We currently protect over 840,000 deposits worth £660 million on behalf of tenants, landlords and letting agents. Our operating company, Computershare, is awaiting approval to launch The Letting Protection Service Scotland (The LPS Scotland) – a service that will provide similar protection to tenants, landlords and letting agents in Scotland.

The experience we’ve gained during five years of protecting and repaying deposits in England and Wales is of huge benefit to the Scottish market and we’re spending a considerable amount of time in the region talking to landlords and agents who have to start making changes to the way they treat tenancy deposits.

Tenancy deposit protection legislation is expected in Scotland towards the end of April 2012. For more information, visit http://www.lettingprotectionscotland.com/.

The DPS – a year in review

Undoubtedly the hottest topic on the property pages has been the rapid rise of the private rented sector. Monthly rental values soared and tenant population increased as the housing market struggled. Letting agent Haart released figures in December 2011 that showed a 10% increase in the number of people registering with them over the last 3 months – a trend they expect to continue this year.

Activity at The DPS over the last year has also increased in line with this report. Since April 2011, monthly registrations and deposit submissions have been higher than last year. Here are some of the highlights:

›  Nearly 1 million deposits repaid since scheme launch in 2007

›  825,000 deposits worth £644 million currently protected on behalf of 166 organisations, 280,000 landlords and letting agents.

›  191,000 enquiries through Emma, our online virtual agent

›  69,000 text message reminders sent

›  50,000 deposit submissions in September – always a peak month but this was 4,000 more than 2010.

›  6,000 new landlords in August - 500 more than in 2010

›  600 adjudications completed in November – twice as many as last year but you’d expect this rise as the scheme matures

›  450 new letting agents in October

The DPS has the infrastructure and capability to easily deal with any rise in registrations, submissions, repayments and adjudications. With a new look website launched late last year and several new features that make deposit protection even easier for those landlords and tenants who are new to deposit protection, we’re more than ready to cope with further increases expected in 2012.

A landlord’s work is never done…

Landlords and letting agents never rest, particularly when there is so much demand on rental property and it seems several didn’t even take a break over Christmas and New Year.

›  We registered 5 new landlords on Christmas Day and a further 59 on New Year’s Eve.

›  15 deposits were submitted on Christmas Day and another 187 on New Year’s Eve

›  The latest deposit submitted on Christmas Day was at 23:09. On New Year’s eve, the last deposit was registered just in   time for fireworks and champagne at 23:41!

The year ahead…

We’re all very excited about taking deposit protection to Scotland this year and are currently awaiting approval from the Scottish Government to launch The LPS Scotland. We’re expecting this to be in April this year, so if you have rental properties in Scotland, get familiar with the requirements on the website and blog.

On behalf of everyone at The DPS, I wish you all the best for 2012.

The DPS makes tenancy deposit protection even easier

We’ve made protecting and returning tenants’ deposits even easier with our latest service enhancements. As well as a new look website which launched successfully this week, we’ve introduced:

› Repayment ID reminders via text message › ‘Organisation’ as a new registration category › Incremental deposit payments › Simplified direct transfer process › Ability to cancel joint repayment claims started in error

The enhancements are part of our ongoing commitment to simplify deposit protection and, more crucially, speed up the repayment process.

Whilst repaying deposits only takes two days once we have agreement from both parties, the biggest barrier is misplaced repayment IDs by both tenants and landlords each month – without these, they cannot start or complete the deposit repayment process.

The latest addition to our SMS service is the fastest way for tenants to receive repayment ID reminders. Tenants simply text us and ask for a repayment ID reminder. We’ll then instantly issue the reminder via return text message. Tenants can only use this service if their mobile number is registered, so it’s important that landlords register the correct mobile number for their tenants.

The enhancements also coincide with our application for a licence to take our considerable experience as the UK's only custodial tenancy deposit protection scheme and apply it to Scotland.

Here’s a little more information on each of the enhancements launched this weekend:

SMS repayment ID reminders Tenants can text The DPS requesting a reminder of their repayment ID. The DPS will instantly issue the reminder via return text message so it is important that landlords ensure a correct mobile phone number is registered for their tenants.

New registration type Organisations such as NHS Trusts, companies or Universities can register deposits as an ‘organisation’ rather than ‘letting agent’ or ‘landlord’, if they do not fall into either of these two categories.

Incremental deposit payments Landlords, letting agents and other organisations can now pay deposits in stages if their tenant is unable to pay the full deposit upfront, or has agreed a payment plan prior to taking the tenancy.

Enhanced direct transfer payment service This enhanced process makes it easier for landlords, letting agents and other organisations to pay for new deposits.

Ability to cancel joint repayments if started in error Previously the requesting party would have had to contact The DPS to rectify any errors, causing delays in getting their deposits back.

Revamped website The new website allows easier navigation to the pages that visitors need to access. Whether the user is already registered and protecting deposits or simply browsing the site, they can quickly access information that is relevant to them with regard to managing deposits or getting help online.

For more information visit our new-look website.

DPS operating company has applied to protect tenancy deposits in Scotland

As you may know, the Scottish Government is introducing legislation that will make it compulsory for all landlords and letting agents in Scotland who take deposits for a relevant tenancy to protect them with a Government approved tenancy deposit scheme. Unlike England and Wales, there won’t be any insurance-based schemes to protect Scottish tenancy deposits. Approved providers will operate custodial schemes – like The DPS – where the money is handed over to the scheme to protect for the duration of the tenancy.

The LPS Scotland – run by the same company as The DPS – has submitted an application to run a scheme and, once approved by the Scottish Government, will be the only provider in Scotland with any experience of running a custodial tenancy deposit protection scheme.

There are some differences in the Scottish requirements to those in England and Wales which we’ll be looking to communicate with our landlords and letting agents with properties in Scotland very soon.

I’m also giving a presentation on 9th November in Edinburgh to introduce the legislation, what it will mean for landlords, letting agents and tenants and how The LPS Scotland will work once approved.

I’ll also talk about our experience of running the DPS in England and Wales and how that knowledge will benefit the running of The LPS Scotland.

If you’re a registered DPS landlord or letting agent with property in Scotland why not come along to find out how it will affect you - email The LPS Scotland to register your interest.

To find out more about The LPS Scotland, visit the website or read the latest blog post:

The Letting Protection Service Scotland (The LPS Scotland) prepares to protect tenancy deposits

You can also follow them on Twitter (@LPS_Scotland).