Lifetime Rental Deposits and the Private Rental Sector

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With the suggestion that lifetime rental deposits could be an option in the future, could it be that a political party has finally come up with something beneficial for the private rental sector?

I have listened, with scepticism, to the leaders of the political parties about their plans post-election. I don’t want to be party-political, but I cannot quite visualise a country that can afford the plans of some; what I do know is that there has seemed little to gladden the heart of a private landlord. 

Extravagant plans seem to be for the potential homeowner or the social tenant; the middle ground, that of the discriminating private renter, seem to have been ignored. Might that change if Boris Johnson is elected and the plans he announced for lifetime rental deposits come to pass?

The Citizens Advice Bureaux and Shelter made a strong case that private landlords could not be trusted to return the deposits at the end of the tenancy that they had taken from tenants. After a lengthy campaign, Tenancy Deposit Protection was enacted in the Housing Act 2004 and introduced from 6th April 2007; it was amended by the Localism Act 2011 with effect from 6th April 2012; final amendment to the regulations after the De-Regulation Act 2015, from 26th March 2015.

All landlords who wished to take a deposit have, since 2007, had to be members of a Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme. Did this meet the needs of the tenants? Not from the tenants I have spoken to. Rather than delays from the landlord, they now face delays from the tenancy deposit protection scheme. Landlords struggle with the bureaucracy and the time limits they must comply with.

Mr Johnson has announced that if he is returned to Downing Street, he will create the means of a lifetime rental deposit scheme. This will be of benefit to tenants, who now find that should they end a tenancy as they should, with notice etc., with no rent arrears or damages, they cannot move to another property without providing the requisite deposit. 

They are in a kind of limbo – they end their current tenancy but cannot move into the new property until they have received their deposit back. This does not apply to all – some may be fortunate enough to be able to raise the deposit; but more likely, the current landlord will find his rent is unpaid for the last month.

Private landlords have been forced into protecting deposits. The paperwork is already in place and it makes sense to introduce a system where the deposits that have been once protected, should remain so, with the new landlord’s details added.

Of course, if the necessary deposit is £600, rather than the £550 which is protected, the additional £50 can be collected, perhaps by BACS and added to the original deposit.  In the same way, if the original landlord says he would like to make a claim for £100 because the lounge has been painted in an unacceptable manner, the tenant would be expected to make-up the deposit and have it protected in the usual way.

For too long, tenants have felt constrained to remain in accommodation that does not meet their needs because they cannot raise a deposit to allow them to move. They would have confidence that the deposit is safe without the risk of its’ being spent by them if they receive the money in their hands. Landlords should find their paperwork is reduced. 

It is just possible that with lifetime rental deposits, there will be something for the private landlord and the tenant after all, should Mr Johnson get his way.

For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon

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