Finding the money for the deposit on a new tenancy can be extremely difficult for many private renters. Not only does this make the cost of moving even more stressful but it also makes it harder for tenants to move out of an unsuitable property and puts tenants who face eviction at risk of homelessness.
But the good news is that the cap on deposits introduced in June 2019 means renters now have an average of £113 more in their pockets.
Deposits are behind some of the most common problems we hear about from renters:
- tenants’ money doesn’t get protected
- the struggle to get deposits back when moving home
- and many of us are unable to afford them in the first place
The good news is the government is looking at how the deposits system can be improved and is asking for renters’ experiences until 5 September. This is your chance to share your experience of deposits and help change the system.
One of the great things about the Tenant Fees Act is that you can save money whether you move home or stay put.
Since June, tenants signing an agreement on a new home in England do not have to pay letting agent fees. (As of yesterday, the ban applies across the UK.)
But there’s been less fanfare for the cap on deposits at five weeks’ rent, which means that a tenant renewing the agreement on their current home could get a refund if their deposit is worth more than that.
The three tenancy deposit protection schemes have rejected our calls to close a loophole that enables rogue landlords to abscond with their tenants’ money.
Seb and I met the three government-backed schemes – MyDeposits, the Deposit Protection Service and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme – earlier this month to propose changes to prevent tenants’ money becoming unprotected should their landlord or letting agent be expelled from a scheme.
You may have seen us on Channel 4 News recently discussing their investigation into rent-to-rent landlord Daniel Burton. Just to update you, we met yesterday with the heads of all three schemes to discuss how tenants can be protected from people like Burton.
We had a very productive meeting and we will continue to discuss a range of ideas on issues around the Daniel Burton story. We’ll let you know how these discussions progress.
One reason the housing market is so stacked against renters is the high cost of taking our business elsewhere, so one of the ways we can make renters more powerful is to make moving house easier.
As our research site lettingfees.co.uk discovered, a typical household could save £404 when they move once the letting fees ban comes in. But a bigger cost – in the short term at least – is the damage deposit worth up to six weeks’ rent.
We estimate that 86% of renters get most or all of their deposit back, but only after they’ve already moved into a new home, so achieving that involves raiding their savings, or borrowing money.
That’s why today we’re calling on the government to start allowing renters to transfer part of their deposit to a new home once they’ve paid the final month’s rent.
The internet has already shaken up the music industry, television, taxis and self-catering holidays. Investors are now looking for the next industry to disrupt with technology and property seems ripe for the picking.
As the national voice of private renters, we agree that the property industry as it stands fails its consumers in too many ways, so things need to change. Even when we succeed in changing the law, like the forthcoming letting fees ban, we still need to ensure that it’s implemented properly and the industry adapts in the right way.
But we can’t allow slick and revolutionary new services or initiatives to simply treat tenants as cash cows in the same way that many letting agents and landlords currently do. So this is what we think the market needs – and how the tenant should benefit.
Where’s my deposit? It is no joking matter for nearly 300,000 tenants whose landlord has not protected their deposit.
This has left many out of pocket without a clue of how they will manage to raise another deposit – the average amount in London stands at £1040 for their next property.
Eric Walker is Managing Director of Northwood UK and tweets at @justericwalker
We in the property industry have more common ground with the likes of Generation Rent and Shelter than many would think. Professional agents do an immense job and provide a valuable service to help protect consumers from the small minority of rogue agents. MPs call for regulation every day, yet the only group which can change the law is in fact the politicians who refuse to do so.
This Government wants agents to regulate themselves. Their reason is in no small part due to the horrors which would be uncovered if agents were forced to regulate. Clients’ money should be held in a ‚Äòring-fenced’ client account, but while this may protect money from creditors, it is not ring-fenced from the agent. If their business is struggling, there is little point in seeking bank assistance and as such, clients’ money is a very tempting resource.