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‘Broken’ tenant deposit system is forcing tenants into debt, says Which?

The existing tenant deposit system is “broken” and in desperate need of reform after a new report revealed that one in six tenants are forced to wait for than four weeks to get their deposit back.

Many renters need to wait weeks for landlords to return money and are often forced to challenge deductions, resulting in 43% on average taking on debt through credit card, loan or overdraft, or borrowed money from family and friends, to cover the expense, according to the report from Which?.

The consumer group found that more than half of tenants who did not get their money back challenged the decision and 31% had to pay a new security deposit before having their previous one returned.


Cleaning remains the most common reason for a landlord to charge money at the end of the tenancy.

Which? is now called on the government to open up a review of the three approved deposit adjudication schemes operated by mydeposits, Deposit Protection Service (DPS) and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS). 

The consumer group wants to see landlords forced to register with local authorities, with information logged on a publicly available database and linked to the existing register of rogue landlords and agents established in April 2018.

It is also calling for the creation of an independent regulator for lettings and management agents with a mandatory, legally binding code of practice and strong penalties for rogue operators.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, commented: “The number of people going into debt to cover the cost of a new deposit is concerning, particularly when you consider that many are forced to wait a significant time to get their previous one back, and could then face deductions that they don't think are reasonable.

“The findings highlight how the deposit system is crying out for reform so that it is fit for purpose for the record numbers of people who are living in rented accommodation.

“We believe that the government must tackle the issues that we have identified in our report head on to ensure that the rental market delivers for consumers.”

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Poll: Do you think that the government should open up a review of the three approved deposit adjudication schemes?


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    Maybe if the tenants returned the property back to the landlord unclean as it was handed over to them then they would receive there deposit back quicker. I make 2 inspections, 1 initial check and take the tenant around and point out what needs to be cleaned or repaired then a second once there have moved out. I also make it clear to the tenants that a deduction will be made if my requests are not met, so they are under no illusions what needs to be done.

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    The present system is not fit for purpose.
    Even with all facts, Signed Inventory, photos, witnesses statements, Invoices, the arbitrators still give favour to the tenants, the arbitrators are inexperienced and fall for the lies of the tenants every time. We need to stop taking deposits and take 2 or 3 months rent in advance followed by monthly rent immediatly, serve notice immediatly in the tenancy agreement,. Any good respectful tenant will commit to that.

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    I can't imagine that tenants down here would be willing to commit to that sort of financial obligation?

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    They have to pay a deposit so either way they have to make a commitment. What i am saying is the deposit system is flawed in favour of the tenant even against all proven Facts. Landlords have to protect themselves or better still sell up

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    I suppose it depends what deposits you are able to take?
    3 months rent would be equivalent to 3 deposits where I am based.
    It seems that everything at the moment seems to be working against us, as the landlord debate is still firmly in the public eye. There isn't a day that goes by that there isn't something negative mentioned about the cost of rents in the private sector.

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    It's a fact, our rents would not increase if,,.1. Interest rates increase.
    2. Service charges increase.
    3. Tax available removed.
    4. Stamp duty increased.
    5. Licence fees increase.
    6. Council imposed more rules and regs.
    Until I have an increase imposed on me operating my B2L Busieness I Do Not increase my rents.

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    LL suppliers of quality affordable housing to PSH for decades & a huge tax contributor now considered enemy No 1. So now we have ‘WHICH’ joining the band wagon of LL bashers to go along with Shelter, Citizens Advice, University of York,
    LA’s, Radio Station, G Osborne the designer as Chancellor now fake news as paper editor, no one to stop those people destroying the economy, everyone sleep walking into another disaster Recession.


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