The Tenant Fees Act of 2019 was created to help protect tenants. It prevents landlords from getting tenants to pay them fees that the Act does not approve of. Despite the tougher regulations, though, it is clear that many tenants are still not aware of their rights – or that they have rights. As such, thousands continue to fall prey to rogue landlords who refuse to return deposits, overcharge, or offer substandard tenancies.
Knowing your rights as a tenant can help make a lot of things easier and safer, which is why you also need to know and understand your landlord’s responsibilities. This way, you’ll know when your landlord is trying to scam you.
Here are five signs that may be signs that your landlord is breaking the law:
- Overcharging rent
While the law mandates landlords to collect a deposit from their tenants and can ask for a reservation fee, the process is not always clear cut or straightforward . There are rogue landlords who make their own rules and charge tenants more than the law-approved rates. One example would be asking tenants to pay a higher reservation fee for the property, or they do not return the reservation money at all.
If your landlord follows the law, they will ask you for a refundable reservation fee worth, at maximum, one week’s rent. For refundable rent deposits, tenants are required to pay an equivalent of five week’s rent at maximum. If the amount collected – or that they are trying to collect – is way above these levels, your landlord is trying to con you.
- Asking for any other payment that is not deposit or rent
If your landlord asks you to pay for anything that is not related to tenant deposit or rent, they are doing something that is against the law. From June 1 2020, regardless of what type of tenancy you have, UK laws have banned landlords from collecting inventory, referencing, and administration fees.
- Non-protected tenant deposits
Even if your landlord collected the right amount of deposit, if they do not register it with any of the three government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme providers, they are violating the law.
Landlords are required to put into a deposit protection scheme or DPS to ensure the money is safe throughout the duration of the tenancy. When the contract ends, the deposit is refunded to you, but only if you did not break any of the terms in your tenancy agreement.
If your landlord has not protected your deposit, you have the right to bring your case to court for a tenancy protection compensation claim. If you win, your landlord will be liable to pay compensation that is at least three times more than the deposit value.
Ensure your landlord registers your deposit in a DPS within 30 days after you handed it over to them. They then have to return it to you 10 days after the two of you come up with an agreement about the amount they will give back to you.
Additionally, your landlord should not pressure you into agreeing to a non-refundable deposit or a deposit-free alternative. You’ll know if this is what they are asking from you because the payment is non-refundable and significantly lower than the usual. If they do use a deposit protection scheme, the schemes are not government-authorised and regulated. It is your right as a tenant to be given the option of a refundable tenancy deposit.
- Violation of various terms of the tenancy agreement
You and your landlord are expected to abide by the tenancy agreement you entered into. So, if your landlord starts doing things that go against the terms of the tenancy, they might be breaking the law.
Some examples of violated terms include:
- visiting without giving you notice
- not providing you copies of vital documents such as a gas safety certificate and energy performance certificate
- not attending to requests for fixing disrepair
- increasing the rent without informing you or getting your approval
- pressuring you to move out before the end of your tenancy or evicting you without notice
- Refusing to return or delaying the refund of your deposit
The only reasons your landlord can withhold the refund of your deposit are damages or issues in the property that you caused, if you provide them with misleading or false information that can affect or affect their decision whether to rent out the property to you or not, and if you do not pass the right to rent check. To withhold the deposit legally, your landlord has to inform you in writing the reasons why they are not returning the deposit. This should be sent to you in seven days or earlier.
However, there are many landlords who simply refuse to refund deposits because they do not want to. There are landlords who neglect tenant requests for the refund. If this happens to you, it’s just right to file for a tenant deposit protection compensation claim.
How to file a tenancy deposit claim
Filing tenancy deposit claims can be a challenge, especially when you need to go to court. To ease the stress on your part, work with a team of expert tenancy deposit protection solicitors. Choose the teams at Tenancy Deposit Claims, as they are trained, experienced, and committed to helping you. They’re also authorised and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority.