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Deposit Protection Scheme

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301 views 2 replies latest reply: 31 January 2017

Hi all,

My landlord has asked me to pay the deposit protection scheme fees to protect my deposit, which cost about £50. I’ve asked Shelter, the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and and they’ve all told me it’s normally down to the landlord to protect the deposit and therefore pay for this protection scheme. But then they’ve also told me a landlord can charge his tenant administration fees, and what I’ve understood from what they told me (although they were never really clear) is basically that a landlord can pass off the deposit protection scheme fees as admin fees. I’m not from the UK and it all sounds very vague to me, to be honest… Also, I’m not familiar with those admin fees that a landlord can apparently charge his tenant(s).
I should say my landlord is a private landlord and the flat isn’t with an agency.

Here are my questions:
1) So can my landlord ask me to pay for the deposit protection scheme (whether directly or by disguising it as ‘admin fees’) or can he not?
2) Can I dispute paying for it? What does the law say (if anything)? Is there an official text I can show him as proof that he’s the one who should pay for it?
3) What are those admin fees and what do landlords typically charge their tenants fees for? What is legal to charge a tenant admin fees for, and what is illegal?

I’d very much appreciate your help. My tenant is deranged, constantly picking fights and bringing me and my flatmate down and we feel very much alone here.

Thanks a lot in advance!

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Straight to the questions:

1) The landlord is cannot ask you to pay deposit protection fees. The deposit protection is entirely their responsibility and they should cover the fees. It’s illegal to pass these costs to the tenant. 

However, the landlord can somewhat easily pass these costs to you through other fees (admin) they are charging you. More below.

3) I’m answering this first for consistency. Normally, it’s letting agents that charge fees, like the administration fee. This fee is a collective name for all the tasks involved in setting up your tenancy, including:

  • Deposit insurance
  • Credit check and referencing
  • Rent guarantee insurance
  • Inventory report (Check in / Check out)
  • Visits and inspections
  • Paperwork, drafting the contact, drafting legal notices

Typically, the fees should only cover the expenses in preparing the above (sometimes more). However, by grouping them into a single item, they can often extract a little bit of profit for themselves. 

While the landlord can’t charge you for deposit protection, they can add 50 pound on top of the admin fee and ask for that. This is what Shelter, Citizen Advice, and My Deposits were trying to tell you, but they can’t do it directly. It’s not illegal to charge tenants with these out-of-pocket expenses, although the government is considering to ban these fees sometime in the future. 

However, there are rules that apply. Before the landlord asks you to sign the contract, all these fees, including a breakdown of the admin fee (upon your request) must be announced to you. If you landlord doesn’t tell you anything and lets you sign, after which they ask for money for a fee, I’m not sure if that is so legal.

2) Typically you should go to Citizen Advice for this. They enforce both consumer rights and trading standards in the UK and provide free legal aid. However, if they were useless, you should phone your local council and ask to talk to the Environmental Health department. They really deal with repairs issues in your home and health hazards and threats, but they can maybe help pressure the landlord with following the established law. 

If this doesn’t help as well, you might be left with going to court. But over 50 pounds ? not really worth it. 

Normally, with agents, you have a redress scheme (which they are required to sign up to), which can resolve problems with unfair fees. However, with a private landlord, there is no obligatory scheme.

You can check if the landlord is a part of any association or organization which enforces a code of conduct (e.g. National Landlord’s Organisation), check our tenant resources page for more info on those. The association will offer a 3rd party complaint procedure, which you can use.

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