Landlords are by now familiar with the need to register and protect a tenant’s deposit in a recognised scheme.  However, they also need to pay attention to how the prescribed information about the scheme they are using is presented to the tenant. This is to avoid the possibility of tenants arguing that the landlord’s Section 21 notice is invalid and that possession should not be granted to the landlord.

We have had several recent examples of tenants, defence lawyers and law centres looking at the minutiae of how the prescribed information was filled in and completed by either the landlord or their agent. Such an exercise appears to be undertaken as a means of either getting a penalty award out of the landlord or to argue that the landlord’s Section 21 notice was invalid.

Section 213(5) of the Housing Act 2004 requires a landlord to give the tenant (or any other relevant person) quite a lot of information about the tenancy deposit. This prescribed information should be signed by the landlord (not a managing agent) and the tenant must also be given opportunity to sign it.

Precisely what the information should include is contained in the Housing (Tenancy Deposits) Prescribed Information Order 2007.  Such information must be given to the tenant and any relevant person in the prescribed form (or in a form substantially to the same effect) within 30 days of the date on which the deposit is received by the landlord.

Shoosmiths Access Legal’s Landlord & Tenant team suggest that you regard the Prescribed Information Order as a check-list. If you have missed anything on that list, things are not quite right and your tenant could claim that the Section 21 notice served at the end of the tenancy is invalid or that you failed to properly carry out your obligation to protect the deposit through a recognised scheme.

The ideal presentation of the required Prescribed Information would include the following:

  • Names of all tenants and any other person (third party) paying a tenancy deposit on behalf of a tenant.
  • Name, address and contact details of the scheme administrator of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme that is safeguarding the tenancy deposit.
  • Copy of an information leaflet supplied by the scheme administrator to the landlord explaining the operation of the statutory scheme and its terms and conditions.
  • Information on the procedures applying to the release of the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
  • Procedures that apply under the Scheme where either the landlord or the tenant is not contactable at the end of the tenancy.
  • Procedures that apply under the scheme where the landlord and the tenant dispute the amount of the deposit to be repaid to the tenant.
  • Facilities available under the Scheme for enabling a dispute to be resolved without recourse to litigation such as a dispute resolution scheme or an independent adjudicator who may decide on any dispute.

The Prescribed Information should also include tenancy-specific details:

  • Amount of the deposit paid (in the case of a joint tenancy it should be the total amount paid).
  • Full address of the property to which the tenancy relates (including post code).
  • Name, address and all contact details of landlord(s) – not the managing or letting agent.
  • Name, address and contact details of the tenant (including the contact address to be used by the landlord at the end of the tenancy). This information should be repeated for all tenants.
  • Name, address and full contact details of a third party making the payment (if there are additional third parties, the same information should be provided for each).
  • Circumstances when all or any part of the deposit may be retained by the landlord.

The best form of words to use at the end of the document would be along the lines of:

I/We (being the Landlord) certify that –

(i) The information provided is accurate to the best of my/our knowledge and belief

(ii) I/We have given the Tenant(s) the opportunity to sign this document by way of confirmation that the information is accurate to the best of the Tenant(s) knowledge and belief.

Landlord(s) printed name(s) and signature(s):

Printed Name(s): ……………………………………. Signature(s):   ……………………………

of Landlord                                                           

Printed Name(s): ……………………………………. Signature(s):   …………………………..

of Landlord                                                              

Printed Name(s): ……………………………………. Signature(s):   ……………………………

of Landlord                                                           

Dated: …………………………………….

Tenant(s) printed name(s) and signature(s):

Printed Name(s): ……………………………………. Signature(s):   ……………………………

of Tenant                                                                 

Printed Name(s): ……………………………………. Signature(s):   ……………………………

of Tenant                                                                  

Printed Name(s): ……………………………………. Signature(s):   ……………………………

of Tenant                                                   

 Dated: …………………………………….

Need some landlord advice?

If you are a landlord and need any legal advice or assistance, you’ll get more information on the Shoosmiths Access Legal website as well as a guide to becoming a landlord. The firm provides a range of bespoke legal services for landlords and letting agents as well as legal advice and guidance for individuals and their families, ranging from buying a house, claiming compensation for an injury or writing a will to handling legal disputes, gaining compensation for medical negligence and advice to ensure wealth protection.

Author – Linda Howard