A rising number of ‘No win, no fee’ solicitors are targeting U.K landlords who have not sufficiently protected their tenants’ deposits.
Under Tenancy Protection Law, landlords must protect their tenant’s deposits within a Government approved scheme and subsequently pass on the information on where the money is stored to the tenant within 30 days. This information is known as the Prescribed Information. Failure to do this could lead to hefty penalties.
Solicitors are increasingly requesting information requests from tenants regarding how their deposits were protected. They then target landlords that have not informed their tenants of this requirement, despite the fact that the deposit may actually be protected.
Many landlords that have deposited safely but have not provided paperwork argue that there is no loss for tenants, therefore starting legal proceedings is highly unnecessary.
No win no fee solicitors targeting landlords
Chairman of the National Landlord Association Carolyn Uphill, is sympathetic towards landlords and questioned the motive for legal action. Uphill said, ‘you have to ask where the financial loss for the tenant is. The majority of tenant’s deposits are being protected and ninety nine per cent of tenancies end without any issues over the return of the deposit.’ She went on to say that in problematic cases, ‘the tenant has access to a free and impartial decision using the scheme’s dispute resolution service.’
Uphill agrees however that unscrupulous landlords should face justice for their actions, stating that, ‘where there is blatant disregard for the law landlords can have no argument and must be brought to rights.’ However, she strongly opposes the actions of no win, no fee solicitors, suggesting that their actions are, ‘morally questionable, unnecessary punitive and will only work to undermine the good relationship that exists between the majority of landlords and their tenants.’
Eddie Hooker, CEO of tenancy deposit scheme My/deposits, said that landlords must accept more of a responsibility for their actions in regards to following the law. He said that, ‘it has always been the landlord’s responsibility to protect the deposit and a vital part of the process is to pass the Prescribed Information on to the tenant.’ Hooker continued, ‘landlords must be aware that they are ultimately responsible even if they use a letting agent.’
Mr Hooker advises landlords to, ‘check with your agent or directly with your deposit protection scheme to ensure all of your deposits have been properly protected.’
The best practice that landlords can employ is to remain organised and to ensure that all legal paperwork is dealt with efficiently. Any queries should be highlighted with a local deposit protection scheme or landlord insurance provider.