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The Tenancy Deposit Protection came into force in 2007. However the government has decided to make some changes to the legislation through the Localism Bill which is now the Localism Act 2011 and it is believed that the new rules will come into force in April 2012.
Here is a short summary.
When the deposit is received, landlords must protect the deposit within 30 days (unlike the 14 day period at present) and serve the tenant a notice giving the prescribed information.
As you will of course be aware, the deposit can be protected with one of the following:
You will find a notice regarding the prescribed information on the Deposit Protection Service website
If the deposit is not protected AND/OR the prescribed information is not given, the tenant will be able to bring a claim in the County Court, immediately after the end of the 30 day period. The landlord (and/or agent) will not have any defence to this. The court will order:
If the tenancy has in fact ended, the Judge 'may' then require the deposit to be repaid but the implication is that if there is damage, the landlord may be able to ask that this be offset. The variable penalty of between one and three times the deposit amount will still be payable, depending on how much the Judge considers appropriate.
These will be invalid if they are served before the deposit has been protected and/or the prescribed information notice served.
If the landlord fails to do this within the 30 day period, then before a section 21 notice can be served, the landlord must either return the deposit to the tenant or return it less agreed deductions (or offset it completely eg against rent arrears) with the consent of the tenant.
So if the tenant refuses to agree to anything the landlord will probably have to pay the unprotected deposit back before a section 21 can be used (and have proof that this has been done).
A landlord can also serve the section 21 notice after a tenant has brought a section 214 claim to the court regarding the failure to protect the deposit and this claim has been resolved one way or another.
If the landlord or agent has not 'protected' the deposit, the tenant will need to apply to the County Court using the Form N1 this is available from the HM Courts Service.
Organisations such as Shelter give good advice on how to get an unprotected deposit back - follow this link
Unipol is a student advice service in Leeds and they have put together a comprehensive 'Enforcement Pack' which contains all the guidance and forms that you would need. They are happy for anyone to access this service - follow this link.
N.B. Please be aware that this is an advice page and the council has no responsability for this legislation.