Added: (Tue Aug 12 2008)

Pressbox (Press Release) - A legal appeal, backed by the Residential Landlords Association, has saved a landlord from paying over £1,500 because tenancy deposit papers were delivered late.

The RLA, whose members own over 100,000 private rented properties throughout the UK, now warns landlords to keep tenants up to date with information that the law requires them to have - or avoid tenancy deposits altogether.

The Sheffield case – the first of its kind to go to appeal - concerned a landlord’s agent registering a deposit with the TDS / Dispute Service Scheme but not giving the tenant the prescribed information within the statutory 14 days. It was only provided after possession proceedings had started.

Judge Bullimore overturned the order, for the landlord to pay the penalty of three-times the deposit, on appeal (8 August, Sheffield County Court).

The Residential Landlords Association lawyer Richard Jones explains: “After careful consideration of complex Housing Act provisions the judge ruled that information being given late did not mean that the penalty was payable because the information had been provided before the tenant submitted his application. To now have case law on our side comes as a welcome relief.

“Whether the cut-off point for compliance is before a tenant lodges an application with the court, or before the date of the hearing itself, was not clarified. But our interpretation, in line with government intention, favours the date of the actual hearing.

“There is also a penalty for failing to register the deposit under one of the schemes and the same principle should apply - but the RLA advises that if the landlord takes a deposit it would be good practice to register and protect it, and give the tenant the prescribed information within 14 days of receipt, to avoid the possible future worry and cost of a court application.

“Likewise, a tenant should be given a copy of the official receipt from the scheme when the deposit is registered.

“This is the first case that has gone on appeal. The RLA has concerns about the complexity of the requirements and our advice, therefore, is not to take a tenancy deposit at all but, instead, to take two months rent in advance at the start of the tenancy.”

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme is among several issues on which the Residential Landlords Association campaigns. They also include lobbying for the formal acceptance of a Code of Practice laying down expected standards for professional landlords, a common sense approach to the implementation of Housing Act licence conditions and fees relating to houses in multiple occupation, as well as a re-think on fire safety regulations and housing allowance payments.

• The Residential Landlords Association is a leading national organisation with members owning over 100,000 properties in the UK’s professional private rented sector. The range of members’ services - on www.rla.org.uk - includes legal advice, insurance, financial services, credit referencing and training. For tenants there is www.tenantdocs.co.uk – where tips include a download of the RLA’s award-winning Plain English tenancy agreement. The RLA operates a web-based property search on www.homes2rent.net and publishes the bi-monthly Residential Property Investor magazine.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

For further press information and interviews please contact Powell Communications:
Brian Johnson - tel: 0161 828 5400, fax: 0161 839 5414; e-mail: brian.johnson@powell-pr.co.uk
Graham King – tel: 0161 976 2729, mobile 07850 280213; e-mail: graham.king@powell-pr.co.uk

Submitted by:Amy Watson
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