The DPS Rent Index is here!

Our position as the largest provider of deposit protection in the UK gives us a unique insight into trends in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). This is why we’re delighted to announce the launch of The DPS Rent Index. We’ve worked with leading economists, Professor Joe Nellis and Professor Catarina Figueira, to develop the Index, which has the capacity to inform the rental housing market and shape both public policy and investor decision-making, in the same way that house price indices do for the owner-occupied housing market.

We wanted to create a rent index that stands up to scrutiny and the highest standards of analysis, so we turned to experts with prior experience of creating complex statistical models that illuminate a market. Professors Joe Nellis and Catarina Figueira are leaders in their area and this provides the assurance we believe an index of this stature and importance requires. Indeed, Joe was co-developer of the Halifax and Nationwide House Price Indices.

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We've created The DPS Rent Index using a unique database drawn from 10 years of deposit protection in England and Wales, plus data from our sister schemes, LPS Scotland, and LPS Northern Ireland. The database is the largest of its kind, which makes it the most reliable indicator of rental trends.

So what do the latest figures actually show?

Over the last 10 years, there has been a continuing trend of rents increasing across the UK year on year, despite the global financial crisis (GFC). This saw London’s 3.47% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) representing the biggest regional increase and the 1.12% CAGR experienced in the North East as the smallest.

The average UK rent in the third quarter of 2017 was £775.13, which is £157.69 (25.5%) higher than it was a decade ago, and now represents a third (32.59%) of median monthly salary. Throughout this period, the PRS has continued to grow and is forecast to represent 25% of all UK housing stock by 2020.

The Brexit Factor

However, there are indications that rent growth has slowed since the Brexit vote, with average UK rent only increasing by 1.51% annually (comparing Q3 2017 to Q3 2016), significantly slower than the previous three years and lower than average CAGR for the last decade (2.30%). Average rent also increased at a slower rate than inflation, which was 2.7% for the same period and, for the first time since the GFC, the average UK monthly wage grew faster than rent.

What else has played a part?

A ban on landlords and letting agents being able to charge fees to tenants for renting a property has been proposed and is expected to come in to force by the end of 2018. This has led to widespread industry speculation over whether this will increase rents as landlords look to recoup costs. As a result of The DPS Rent Index, we will now have a clear indication of how rents change over time in every part of the UK, allowing for a better informed view on how the PRS is affected by such changes – and how other economic factors relate to the cost of renting across the country.

Julian Foster, Managing Director here at The DPS, said: “Figures suggest that the rental market has slowed nationally since the third quarter of 2016, and letting agents, landlords and tenants will be keen to see whether this trend continues over the next year.

“This post-Brexit increase is the smallest witnessed since 2012 and comes after three years of particularly high growth, suggesting the influence of other macroeconomic factors such as housing, employment and inflation.

While we're still some distance from seeing the roughly 3% fall that came with the last GFC, the change over the last year identified by the index represents a significant shift for the market.”

You can read the full report here. Watch this space for further updates.

Letting agent fees ban – Thank you for sharing your views

Last year, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced his intention to ban letting agents’ fees in England. With the ban expected to have a big impact on the industry, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched a consultation to gauge the views of the market. And unsurprisingly, it generated a huge response.  

To make sure letting agents, landlords and tenants voices were heard and to help the DCLG gain a broader picture of the market, we ran our own survey to collate the views of our customers.


Any ban should also include landlords

We received 3,286 responses, and although there were expected divisions between agents, landlords and tenants, it was encouraging to see suggestions that people on all sides of the market could agree on. 

Most of the people who took our survey agreed that any ban should apply to all agents and landlords equally, with data held on rogue landlords and agents shared across the industry to help improve standards. 

It’s expected that rents will increase because of the ban, and tenants are willing to accept the rise, if fair. But according to the responses, 86% of tenants were strongly in favour of capping holding deposits. 

Interestingly agents were fairly evenly split between yes (54%) and no (46%) when it came to charging for a premium service in certain sectors, such as relocations. Tenants on the other hand were comfortable with the charges, as long as they’re known up front and representative of the service given.

Also, most people felt that any measures that remove costs, or spread them over a longer a period of time, will help with the affordability of housing and increase mobility in the housing market. 


Lifting the negative perception of letting agents

One point that came through clearly was that many tenants have a negative view of letting agents. Most tenants (86%) felt that a ban, with strong, effective enforcement will help remove some of their concerns and make them more likely to use a professional agent, a point echoed by 70% of agents and landlords who support the introduction of stronger enforcement measures. 

Such a move would not only increase competition in the market, but also force those letting agents with lower standards out of the market – increasing the overall quality of industry service.


What’s next for the private rented sector? 

Implementing the ban is still on the government’s to-do list, but the information published earlier this year shows their commitment to delivering a total ban on fees that will include landlords and tenants. There was also a proposed cap on holding deposits at one week’s rent, and tenancy deposits at four weeks rent. 

Thank you for taking to the time to complete our survey. Your responses allowed us to present a detailed view of the market to the DCLG. We’ll make sure you to keep you updated as the story develops.

Alexander Road gets a new lease of life with the help of The DPS

At The DPS we’re always excited to hear back from the charities we’ve supported and how the Charity Donations Fund has helped those less fortunate in their community.

So when we caught up with Y Supported Accommodation (YSA), who received an award in 2015 - we were thrilled to hear that our £15,000 donation has allowed them to continue refurbishing their Alexander Road site; a place 20 vulnerable young people can call home, if only for a short period of time.

The refurbishment programme has been extensive, with new boilers, bathrooms, kitchens, flooring, furniture and fire and electrical systems all being fitted, and the feedback has been fantastic…

YSA have found that people will respond positively to a caring, clean and supportive environment. Having pride in their room, appearance and achievements improves their confidence and self-esteem. 

Tom’s story

Tom, a former resident at the Alexander Road showed a remarkable change in his behaviour after being told he may be able to move into a newly renovated flat. 

During his previous stays he was neglectful and damaged the property whilst under the influence of alcohol. But after being given a sneak peek of one the new flats, he began to maintain his current flat to a much higher standard, and more importantly there were no more incidents of vandalism. And after eight weeks, Tom moved into his new place as arranged. 

Tom simply said “it may be homeless accommodation but for me it’s my space and I’ve never had that before especially when everything is new.”

Tom now lives in his own council tenancy, and has been given a lot of practical advice and support by his case worker, including budgeting and paying bills.

Stories like Tom’s are really gratifying to hear, and the reason we started The DPS Fund. We can’t wait to hear more from YSA in the future.

If you work for or know of a charity that could benefit from the DPS Charity donations fund, please don’t hesitate to apply for funding right here.

 

Average tenancy deposits in the UK hover just below £1000

Our latest tenancy deposit ratings are out now. Every three months we crunch the numbers and calculate the average tenancy deposit for 100 cities across England and Wales.

Our sums have revealed that the average tenancy deposit for England and Wales is £970.18 – continuing to hover just below the £1,000 mark.

While the rest of the country maintains a certain level of consistency, London postcodes set a new all-time peak, averaging £1,831.14, which is more than double the figure for the rest of England and Wales (£883.21 without London).
 
To give you a clearer picture of what’s going on in your region, we’ve compared the 100 cities to the national average. How does your city stack up? Click here to find out.

Our Managing Director, Julian Foster said: “…tenancy deposits can be demanding sums for tenants to raise when they move.

“However, both parties can have peace of mind over the money when it is protected with The DPS…” 

It’s clear that these are challenging times for the Private Rented Sector and whether you’re a landlord, tenant or letting agent we’ve got some helpful tips and advice to help you get the most from your tenancy.

Over 65 homeless people given a warm bed thanks to StopGap and The DPS

Here at The DPS, we love to hear how our Charity Fund donations have helped those less fortunate. We were thrilled when one of our previous award recipients, StopGap, told us that our donation meant over 65 individuals have been given a warm bed and a chance to establish more permanent housing.

Almost two years ago, StopGap Sheffield applied for £5000 to help them extend their reach and make sure more homeless people can escape the threats of violence, hunger, bad weather and health problems that can so often make their lives a misery. StopGap does this by providing an emergency short-term overnight accommodation scheme for those who might otherwise have to sleep rough.

Ruth Grayson from the charity explains how our donation made a difference:

We arrange and pay for bed and breakfast, one night at a time, for clients referred to us by our voluntary sector partner agencies. This (donation) enabled us to provide approximately 140 beds in private B&Bs in the city, benefiting between 65 and 70 individuals. Although the average length of stay is only 2 nights, this gives both client and agency a bit of breathing space and time to seek other solutions.

Ruth was also able to tell us about some of the real people the money benefited. 

Andy was referred to StopGap by one of the nightly soup runs in Sheffield.  He had been sleeping rough in a disused school building for some time. After losing his job, he was thrown out by his partner - who remained in the family home with their children. Andy wanted to stay nearby, so he could see his children on their way to and from school, but without an address of his own, he was forbidden access to them by the courts. After just one night in StopGap accommodation, which gave him a shower and laundry facilities in addition to a good night's sleep and a cooked breakfast, Andy gained the confidence to go and apply to the city council for housing. In due course this was successful and Andy managed to establish his own home and eventually regain regular access to his children. Just one night in safe, warm accommodation made all the difference in his case.

Another client, Brian, who had also lost his job and subsequently fallen into rent arrears, was referred to StopGap by one of the day centres working with homeless people in the city. After a couple of nights in a warm bed, the welfare officer at the centre was able to find him supported accommodation at Emmaus Sheffield where Brian is now said to be doing well. He has regular work and is making friends with some of the other residents.

Christina found herself in a desperate situation when her partner suddenly became very aggressive toward her. She had come with him to England from Bulgaria after he got a UK work permit. Being from Bulgaria, Christina was not able to access public funds and so she was not eligible for help in a refuge for victims of domestic violence. When homelessness seemed like a certainty, StopGap was the only organisation in Sheffield able and willing to keep her safe and off the streets while longer term arrangements could be made.

These are just some of the examples; there are so many other similar cases. The DPS donation has been invaluable, if not an actual life saver, in all these instances.

If you work for or know of a charity that could benefit from the DPS Charity donations fund, please don’t hesitate to apply for funding right here. 

No Limits – Helping young people help themselves

Every three months we award up to £20,000 to charities that focus on housing related issues. Since the launch of our charity fund, we’ve given more than £160,000 to charities doing fantastic work in their local communities. 

In the eighth round of awards, No Limits fought off some stiff competition to claim a donation. We were delighted to hand over a cheque for £5,000 and find out a bit more about their operation on our recent visit.

No Limits

No Limits offers free and confidential advice, information counselling and much more to young people and children who live in Southampton and Hampshire. Some of these children suffer from mental or physical ill-health, which makes the work No Limits do even more challenging. 

Their ‘Floating Support’ and ‘Homemaker Volunteers’ initiatives are fantastic ideas which help those who are at risk of homelessness. But their work doesn’t stop there - they also give people the skills to make their house more of a home.

The donation will go towards Homemaker Volunteer courses, designed to give young people the skills to be independent - such as cooking on a budget, cleaning and money management. 

Natalie Hutchins at No Limits, said: “We’re really grateful to The DPS for the money, which will really help us empower young people to truly enjoy their new homes.

“Some of the young people we work with have never had the welcoming, comfortable home that many of us take for granted, and we want these young people to feel like they have a home of which they can be proud.”

Daren King, Head of Tenancy Deposit Protection at The DPS, said: “We’re really glad to be able to support the services provided by No Limits, which represent a really important source of assistance for those who need it in Southampton and the surrounding area.”

Congratulations to No Limits, we look forward to hearing how the donation has helped. 

The ‘new’ model tenancy agreement

In February the Department for Communities and Local Government updated their ‘Model agreement for a shorthold tenancy’. The agreement is designed to strike a fair balance between the needs of the tenant and the landlord when entering a new tenancy. 

With property prices rising ever higher, getting on the housing ladder is becoming more difficult all the time. As a result, demand for rental properties with longer tenancies is expected to be higher than ever. 

A longer tenancy does have its advantages. A tenant can plan for the future, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be looking for a new place to live in three months. And landlords will have a steady rental income without the hassle of always looking for new tenants (and the hefty fees that often go with it). 

The agreement has a really useful step-by-step process that a landlord and tenant can go through before entering a new tenancy. If you’d like to know more, download the document here

We’re proud sponsors of Lettings Live and The Lettings Agency of the Year Awards 2016

Lettings Live and The Lettings Agency of the Year Awards are just around the corner (10 June 2016) and we’re delighted to be one of the official sponsors. The prestigious annual event is the highlight of many letting agents’ social calendars.  

Last year, we were delighted to win the Silver Award in the Supplier of the Year category. We’re in the running once again for the 2016 awards and we’d love to go one better and take home gold. 

We’d like to wish all our customers who’ve entered the awards the best of luck in their categories. 

Come see us at our stand during the live event

We’ll also be at the Lettings Live event during the day. Two of our business experts, Chris and David, will be on hand to share their knowledge and answer any questions you have about our service, or about tenancy deposit protection in general. 

If you’re attending the event, here’s why you should pop over and have a chat…

›    We’re experienced  - We’ve protected over 4.2 million deposits since 2007
›    We offer great service - Callers rate our Customer Service Team over 9/10
›    We’re fast - We repay deposits within 2 working days

If that’s not enough to tempt you, there’s also a prize draw – visit our stand for the chance for you to win an iPad mini. 

It promises to be a great day and we’re looking forward to meeting you all.  
 

David Hackett

David joined us in 2011, working in Customer Service and Dispute Resolution before recently moving to our Account Management Team as our Senior Account Manager. He’s responsible for ensuring his team continues to provide top service to our managed clients.

 

Chris Jackson

Chris is our Business Support Team Manager and has been a member of our team since 2010. He makes sure his team gives you the highest levels of customer service possible whilst providing the guidance and advice you need.

LAMP – supporting young homeless people in the community

As you may have seen, every three months we award up to £20,000 to charities that focus their efforts on housing related issues. 

In our seventh round of awards, we had some really strong applications and every detail was scrutinised. We’re delighted to announce that Luton Accommodation and Move-on Project (LAMP) was one of the successful charities in England and Wales.   

LAMP

LAMP is a small, local charity and for over 20 years they’ve provided accommodation and support to homeless young people aged between 16 and 25 in Luton, Bedford and the surrounding area. 

The £5,000 award will help provide privately rented accommodation for between eight and ten homeless young people. It will also help teach them basic household management and develop independent living skills.  

Our Head of Tenancy Deposit Protection, Daren King said: “LAMP is doing excellent work helping people find housing and teaching them the skills to live on their own.”

John Archer, Chief Executive Officer at LAMP, said: “LAMP is delighted to receive the support funding from The DPS.

“It will make a real difference to our operations and how we are able to provide safe accommodation to support young homeless people to encourage and enable them to build their self-confidence and move on to independent living.”

We wish them all the best and look forward to finding out how our donation has helped.

Updates in the Private Rented Sector

The Private Rented Sector has generated many talking points in 2015 and this will continue throughout 2016 and beyond.  New laws and proposals implemented by the Government look set to alter the way letting agents and landlords in the housing sector operate.

Right to rent checks roll out nationally

In 2015, the Government trialled a new immigration law that forces landlords to take responsibility for checking whether their prospective tenants are eligible to live in the UK.  The pilot was held in the West Midlands and though the results were inconclusive, the Government has decided to roll it out nationally.  

From the 1 February 2016, landlords across the country are required to have performed right to rent checks for any new tenancies starting after this date.  

The Home Office has provided guidance for landlords on how to administer right to rent checks, and the documents that prospective tenants must provide. These can be found on www.gov.uk.

Taxation changes

Along with changes to tax relief on wear and tear and on buy-to-let mortgages, the government is also looking to increase tax revenues by introducing a three percent Stamp Duty Land Tax surcharge on purchases of second homes. This includes buy-to-let residences, with exceptions proposed for investors buying multiple properties. 

The tax will be applied to all eligible second home purchases from 1 April 2016 and many commentators have said this could affect the PRS and home-buyers’ market, with some suggesting there will be a rush to buy property before the April deadline. Others expect the buy-to-let market to remain buoyant despite increased purchase costs. 

It’s not just about what’s being introduced by the Government, but what’s not  

Many people were shocked by the Government’s withdrawal of an amendment to the Housing Bill currently going through Parliament, which would’ve enforced mandatory Client Money Protection for letting agents.  

With many senior industry voices and letting agents calling for the change, it was disappointing that the amendment was removed. We believe along with others that this would have improved standards in the PRS.  

We were also disappointed to see the Government reject a proposal for rented properties to be fit for human habitation. Rogue landlords who disregard tenant safety have a negative impact on the reputation of the industry and most landlords and agents believe that more can be done to weed them out.  

Many of you responded to our survey about rogue landlords, allowing us to present a collective industry view to the Government consultation on the subject in late 2015. The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has now issued their response to the consultation, displaying strong support for the following measures:

> A blacklist of persistent rogue landlords and letting agents
> The introduction of Rent Repayment Orders
> Additional criteria in the fit and proper person test for licences
> The introduction of civil penalties
> New procedures for tackling abandonment
> An agreement for data held by deposit protection schemes to be made available to local authorities.

The government's response to the consultation discusses each of these proposals and the next steps they plan to take.  You can view the full response on the Government website, www.gov.uk.

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.

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

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.

£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.


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’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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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.  

 

The DPS rules out membership and annual renewal fees for new Insured Scheme

We are pleased to announce the pricing structure for our new insurance based deposit protection scheme. Offering customers the easiest and cheapest option

  • Value for money - We will offer the industry’s cheapest published option for landlords and letting agents to protect their deposits.
  • Easy - The DPS insured scheme will not be charging membership or annual renewal fees to its customers, so no membership paperwork to contend with either!
  • Convenient - Letting Agents will be charged per deposit monthly by direct debit; the (ex vat) fee to protect each deposit will be just £9.50 (further discounts will be available for volume).
  • Landlords will be charged just £15.00 per deposit for deposits under £500 (inc vat), and only £22.20 per deposit for deposits over £500 (inc vat) on a pay-as-you-go basis.

We’re delighted to be able to provide our customers with the best value for money deposit protection options. Our goal is to deliver excellent service to the industry and offering the most cost effective insured scheme alongside our custodial option will ensure landlords and letting agents have the best choice of protection.

 

[caption id="attachment_1065" align="aligncenter" width="583" caption="*Prices correct at time of posting (click to enlarge)"][/caption]

A ‘one stop shop’ for deposit protection

We currently run the only custodial based deposit protection scheme in England and Wales and we are the first scheme to offer landlords and letting agents both protection options.

Following in the footsteps of The DPS custodial scheme, landlords and letting agents will be able to register with this service online as well as by phone; and manage both custodial and insured deposits via one easy, integrated online account. Our new insured scheme is due to launch on the 2nd April 2013 and we’re pleased to see landlords and letting agents are already registering in advance.

To find out more about The DPS (Insured and Custodial), please visit www.depositprotection.com or contact us direct at media@depositprotection.com

 

Changes to tenancy deposit protection from 6th April 2012

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.

Prescribed Information

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).

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.